As I write on this warm August night in Central Maine, it’s still often hard to think about all of the many musicians we’ve lost this year, after I started the blog in January, in the middle of winter in Maine – heavy-hitters that included Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, Glenn Frey of The Eagles, Merle Haggard, and of course, David Bowie and Prince.
On January 4, 2011, a musician who I wasn’t a huge fan of but whose music I did enjoy – Scottish singer / songwriter Gerry Rafferty – died at the age of 63. Gerry was prolly best known for two monster international hits – “Stuck In The Middle With You,” with Steelers Wheel, in 1973 (a song he co-wrote), and “Baker Street,” his huge 1978 solo hit (from the album, CITY TO CITY). Hard to imagine now, but Gerry Rafferty actually had to beg his record label to release “Baker Street” as a single. The record label said it was “too good for the public.” Little did they know – it reached No. 1 in Australia, and the Top 10 in 10 countries, including the U.S., where it spent six weeks at No. 2.
After Gerry’s death, I was going through his 70s catalog, and he had some really great solo songs besides “Baker Street” – songs like “Right Down The Line” and “Home And Dry” (both from his 1978 BILLBOARD No. 1 album, CITY TO CITY), and “Get It Right Next Time” (from 1979’s NIGHT OWL album). But, it was another song from the NIGHT OWL album I had completely forgotten about, rediscovered and fell in love with (again): “Days Gone Down (Still Got The Light In Your Eyes).”
“Days Gone Down” is a love song and though slower than his other big hits, I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a ballad. He’s got several musicians on this song, and the album version is a cool two-and-a-half minutes longer than the single version. On the first weekend in June 1979, “Days Gone Down” was the highest-debuting song on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, coming in at No. 68. In just three weeks’ time, it was already No. 30 on the Hot 100 and seemed like it would be another big hit.
Well, 1979 was the last big year for Disco, and in late July, the week “Days Gone Down” peaked at No. 17 on the Hot 100, the Disco genre was well-represented in the Top 40, inbetween a few Rock gems like The Knack’s “My Sharona,” ELO’s “Shine A Little Love,” Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him” and Blondie’s “One Way Or Another” (even the big 1979 hit for Kiss, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You,” catered to the Disco crowd more than the Rock crowd).
“Days Gone Down” sadly dropped from the Hot 100 as fast as it climbed the chart. Though it’s his third highest-charting hit here in the U.S., it’s been largely forgotten (though not by me). Gerry would reach the Top 40 of the Hot 100 one more time, with “Get It Right Next Time” spending a couple of weeks at No. 21 in October 1979.
Despite being certified Gold in the U.K. and the U.S., Gerry Rafferty’s NIGHT OWL album was not well-received by critics, but Gerry continued to make music, releasing six more studio albums between 1980 and 2000, and he appeared on the 1983 soundtrack / score to the film, LOCAL HERO, the first soundtrack album (of nine to date) by Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler.
I know most people will forever remember Gerry Rafferty for “Stuck In The Middle With You” and “Baker Street,” but I’m not like most people. Sure, I remember Gerry for those big hits, but on a cold Maine winter day in 2011, following Gerry’s passing, I rediscovered a song I hadn’t thought about in maybe 20 years – and that song is “Days Gone Down.” Rediscovering that song did something for me that I can’t explain, but I can safely say, five years down the line, I don’t plan on forgetting it anytime soon…
“You still got that light in your eye / And our day is comin’ by and by / I’m travelin’ this long road to be with you / We still gotta long way, still gotta long way to go…”