THE PASSING OF GERRY RAFFERTY: THE MAGIC OF THE MUSIC

Music.

It’s always been a huge part of my life, anyone who knows me well knows that is true.

As a baby, I can honestly remember listening to my parents play the Beatles while they danced around the room with me in their arms, then there was the glorious basking in their eclectic musical tastes as a child, then the fervent adopting of my own musical favorites as I grew older, and now, singing lead in a cover band and interviewing musical luminaries as I approach my 50th birthday. Music is a force that drives my soul. I would not be who I am without it.

I guess that’s why Gerry Rafferty’s death today at the age of 63 has hit me particularly hard. His incredibly evocative music, particularly 1972’s “Stuck In The Middle With You” which he did with his band Stealer’s Wheel (and which my band and I have covered), and his two epic late 70’s FM classics “Right Down The Line” and the amazing “Baker Street” (which my band and I wouldn’t dare cover!) were hugely precious pieces of the burgeoning puzzle of my youth that will always evoke simpler times…happy and glowing times…times that molded me into what I would become as an adult.

Both of those latter tunes are part of my life’s soundtrack in Wilton, Connecticut circa 1978; in fact, Gerry’s album “City to City”  that contained both those songs knocked another seminal album, the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, off the #1 position in the summer of ’78, a time when life was moving from the comfortable confines of high school to the unknown world of college and beyond. “Baker Street”, with Raphael Ravenscroft’s one-of-a-kind saxophone riff and Gerry’s sweet voice, would be one of a few songs that would totally epitomize that incredibly important time in our lives, a time when we were learning about life, love, friendship, and the uncertain yet enticing track that each of our lives would take us on.

I’m not sure any two songs were more integrally woven into the mosaic of that time than these two songs, save maybe “Do You Feel Like We Do” , “Free Bird” or a couple others. Sure, there were alot of great tunes that came out back then, that’s why classic rock is so popular now, because, duh, alot of it is GREAT music. But for some unexplicable reason, those two songs by Gerry shine through as parts of the DNA of our lives that shaped us, that molded us back then. I can just hear “Baker Street” coming on the radio now and our fists pumping because we knew we were in for about 4 minutes and 14 seconds of a song that was ours, a song that came out for us and would be along for the ride during this integral part of our lives.

That’s why music is so unbelievably special. I turn 50 two months from today, but hearing “Baker Street” and “Right Down The Line” today as I mourn Gerry took me right back to the backseat of John Kaczmarcyzk’s Dodge Dart, a bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Wine in hand, and the world, our little part of it in Connecticut at least, at our feet.  Music has the unique and unchangeable ability to transform us back in time, sometimes to a place of joy, sometimes to a place of sorrow, but always to place that mattered. At any given moment, we can put on a song and be transported somewhere else, just by some musical notes, rhythms and the magic of some very special words.

So if you get minute, throw on “Baker Street” today if you haven’t already. I did, and dang, it felt good, even amidst the sadness of Gerry Rafferty’s passing. But man, as I played the song, I could feel the cool leather from the arms of my high school varsity jacket, the cut grass and the keg in Fergie’s backyard, and the magic of being 17. Thanks Gerry. Godspeed.

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