This is the most sentimental of all Gerry Rafferty's songs. It is about a man who dreams of owning a house and living away from his neighborhood, but he is a drunk, and cannot achieve that goal. He drinks to forget what he doesn't have, and never realizes he's a rolling stone with no direction. (thanks, Jade - Chippewa Falls, WI)
Rafferty was a member of Stealers Wheel, who had a hit in 1973 with "Stuck In The Middle With You
." His first band was a folk duo called "The Humblebums." His singing partner was the famous Scot comedian Billy Connelly. (thanks, Bart - Cairns, Australia)
Baker Street is a real street in London; Rafferty often stayed with a friend who lived there.
The song was the Scottish singer's first release after the resolution of legal problems surrounding the acrimonious breakup of his band Stealers Wheel in 1975. In the intervening three years, Rafferty had been unable to release any material due to disputes about the band's remaining contractual recording obligations, and his friend's Baker Street flat was a convenient place to stay as he tried to extricate himself from his Stealers Wheel contracts. Rafferty explained to Martin Chilton at the Daily Telegraph: "Everybody was suing each other, so I spent a lot of time on the overnight train from Glasgow to London for meetings with lawyers. I knew a guy who lived in a little flat off Baker Street. We'd sit and chat or play guitar there through the night."
In the last verse, Rafferty expresses his exhilaration as his legal and financial frustrations are finally resolved:
When you wake up it's a new morning
The sun is shining, it's a new morning
You're going, you're going home
Raphael Ravenscroft played the sax solo. Rafferty wrote the song with an instrumental break, but didn't have a specific instrument in mind. Hugh Murphy, who produced the track, suggested a saxophone, so they brought in Ravenscroft to play it. Ravenscroft has played on records by Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Abba, Alvin Lee and many others.
This was performed at the end of The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Sax," when she receives a new saxophone after her old one was destroyed. While the sax solo plays, clips of her playing the old sax are shown. (thanks, Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA)
One of the most famous residents of Baker street is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. He lived at 221-B Baker Street. (thanks, Patrick - Bremen, GA)
In 1992 the UK group Undercover reached #2 in the British charts with their cover of this song. Their name was apt as their only other UK Top 20 hit was another cover, this time of Andrew Gold's "Never Let Her Slip Away." Both original versions were in the UK Top 20 in April 1978. Undercover's keyboardist Steve McCutcheon, also known as Steve Mac, later teamed up with Wayne Hector to form a successful songwriting partnership including some of Westlife's UK #1s.
This song was covered by the rock band Foo Fighters, who reworked it with the famous sax line replaced with a guitar. They performed the song on occasion and issued their version as the B-side to some releases of "My Hero
." In 2007, the song was included on the 10th anniversary reissue of their album The Colour and the Shape
Ravenscroft was reportedly paid only £27 for his sax contribution. The check that he was given bounced, so the musician framed the useless payment and hung it on his solicitor's wall.
Speaking in a 2011 radio interview, Ravenscroft said the song riled him. "I'm irritated because it's out of tune," he said. "Yeah, it's flat. By enough of a degree that it irritates me at best."
The period of 1977-1982 produced from very memorable soft rock songs that made their way onto playlists decades later. This genre came to be known, sometimes dismissively, as "Yacht Rock," with this song often cited as an exemplar.
More so than most, "Baker Street" resonates with listeners, drawing out strong emotions. Nicholas Niespodziani of the Yacht Rock Revue
told us about performing the song: "'Baker Street' is really all about the sax riff, which actually, is not an exceedingly difficult sax riff to play, but one that brings out emotions in people that they didn't think they had. You play that in front of a crowd of dudes that hadn't heard it performed live before, and they get just wild. They get the crazy eye."