Gerry Rafferty

Another fine artist ruined by struggles with chemical dependency dies sooner (perhaps) than he should have. A moving obit is here.

I loved Gerry Rafferty’s ’78 lp City to City. Not so much for the hit songs from FM radio, which were certainly very good. That line in “Baker Street” about the guy trying to give up “the booze and the one night stands” seems particularly poignant given the singer’s much-publicized, and ultimately losing, battle with alcohol.

I liked the way Gerry Rafferty put his ensembles together on all the tunes I’ve ever heard from him: a tasteful assortment of instruments and voices, and a creative variety of styles. My favorites were “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart” and “The Ark.” I tried to talk a folk band I played with in the 80’s to consider working on covers of those tunes.

In my own family, I’ve seen lived tainted–if not ruined–by alcohol. My paternal grandfather spent most of his final years as a street person. My mom reported he was an outstanding violinist. What is it about musicians who get seduced by chemicals? Mom also told me that he loved to cook. Another love of mine. I was talking with my wife about it earlier tonight: the parallels of talents and avocations in my own life with that of the grandfather I never knew. He died when I was two. I have one picture of the two of us with a paper hat he made for me, and a big smile on my face.

My wife counseled me to remember that it was another age, the 50’s. People smoked. People drank. People got trapped and sick and if there was a way out, it was a lot darker then than it might be today. You watched guys like this swim through slightly flavored C2H5OH in movies, and who complained? The so-called Great Generation meets alcohol, and passes on that corrupted love to its sons and daughters: no wonder young people rebelled in the 60’s. Bah, humbug: that’s hardly a great legacy. Thanks for a urine-soaked war trophy, people: beating and abusing your children and passing on a very questionable heritage. My hope is that someday, somehow, it will all stop. Maybe it will in my small part of my extended family. At least I won’t be going in blind. But I still miss great musicians, near and far.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Music, My Family. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Gerry Rafferty

  1. Ray MacDonald says:

    Gerry Rafferty was one of my favorites as well. I particularly like “Right Down the Line,” which is a tribute to a woman’s faithfulness in good times and bad. “Get It Right Next Time” – which has overtones of picking yourself up after a fall, and a pretty great sax solo – is another favorite of mine.
    I share your pain about alcohol abuse – both my dad and uncle had problems with alcohol and both died prematurely, I never had the pleasure of an adult relationship with either of them.

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