Ah. Back to the 70’s we go with this one. Probably most famous for it’s wonderful saxophone riff, this was probably one of those songs / artists that punk was meant to kill off. But a year after the Sex Pistol’s rose to public prominence, here is a classic piece of 70’s pop/rock that has weathered the years and established itself as a bona fide classic.
Gerry Rafferty was originally a member of folk/rock/pop group The Humblebums, which included comedian Billy Connolly in its ranks. In the early 1970s he was part of Stealers Wheel, most famous for their hit “Stuck In The Middle With You“. But by the mid 70s that had all folded, and he was out there as a solo artist. Baker Street was the first single from his second solo album, “City to City”, and was the song that got the solo Gerry into the public consciousness.
With a gentle opening, the song explodes into that classic saxophone refrain (by Raphael Ravenscroft), and takes a full minute before getting to the opening verse. For all the attention that the instrumentation gets in this song (and there is a great guitar solo in there as well towards the end), the song itself – verses and choruses – is, to my mind, the equal of the music, albeit somewhat more understated.
The song was voted best British single of 1978 in the forerunner to the British Rock and Pop Awards (although this is the only – somewhat bizarre – reference I can find to that). I can’t say I’ve been a huge Rafferty fan, although great songs like “Get It Right Next Time” and “Night Owl” remind me that I really should check out some more of his music, and are definitely sounds that transport me back to a certain time and place (late 70s, middle years of secondary school, and all that goes with that!).
Now with all that sax and lead guitar solos, I can understand why you might be raising your eyebrows at a ukulele version of this song. Hopefully this will show you that the songs works just great on the humble old uke. I think this version is stunning!
And so here is the song sheet. It follows the song arrangement fairly closely, and hence has lots of space for instrumental improvisation, if required. I guess you could try and replicate the saxophone parts on the kazoo, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve also included some tab for the intro and instrumental sections, which I stumbled across on Ukulele Underground. Worth giving a try, I think, if you want a bit of a challenge.