My Review Of Gerry Rafferty's City To City on the Anniversary of His Passing

Rafferty's Masterpiece is City To City, by Coolkayaker1

This review is from: City to City (Audio CD) by coolreviewer1/coolkayaker1

Gerald Rafferty's innate sense of pop tempo and styling--similar to Lennon and McCartney and the best of his younger contemporaries, like Difford and Tillbrook (of Squeeze)--was evident to his locals and peers since he first picked up a guitar at age 12. The son of an alcoholic and abusive father, his mother was known to stay out with Gerry until his Dad was home, drunk, and asleep. Gerry was beaten as a child and, although it impacted his life, he seldom spoke of his abuse even as an adult. Some say his contemplative songwriting reflects the healing wounds of his childhood. But Papa Rafferty may have given Gerry something worse than the physical abuse: alcoholism. Quiet Gerry fell victim to the vices of the bottle, a lifelong and possibly hereditary affliction for this even-tempered and well-loved man.

City To City is his first solo album after the break-up of Stealer's Wheel, and Gerry's songwriting and pitch-perfect singing came to a crescendo in this glorious--almost spiritual--LP/CD. Although every late seventies FM rock station played Baker Street and Right Down The Line for the power pop tunes that they are, the commercial success of these songs was the antithesis of the core constitution of Gerry Rafferty: quiet, unassuming, the forgotten man in the back of the room, bashful on stage, and yet with a zest for life and a dry humor that came through in his songwriting. He believed in the power of song, and this LP reflects that ethos. Most listeners of City To City will have memories of when they heard the hits, perhaps when spending time at the lake or in the car as a youth, but the Rafferty fan will sit and listen to the hit singles yet again, a fresh listen, and will recognize songs as deep as they are popular. Baker Street's haunting meander is followed directly by the straight forward sensibility of Right Down The Line, a one-two punch of impeccable songwriting.

The rest of City To City defies characterization. Incessantly tuneful, the songs shine with regional Scottish flare (like The Ark and Mattie's Rag) and yet exude universal voice and meaning. City To City, Island and Waiting For The Day all feature mid-tempo harmony and that crystal voice, so tuneful. The highlights of the LP are not only the mega-hit FM staples, but also the incredibly powerful Stealin' Time and Whatever's Written In Your Heart, which are anthems for inner peace and soul-searching. The meaning of life is Gerry's eternal question, and the artist's calm strength in subtle words fills each Rafferty record over forty years, but is most pronounced on the City To City album.

The centerpiece of the John Byrne album covered, 10-song LP--the song that defines Gerry and exemplifies his goodness, his vice (alcohol) and his rock sensibility--is Home And Dry. I urge you to listen to Home And Dry right now please by searching it at your favorite online video site: "This silver bird takes me, cross the sky, just one more hour and I'll be, home and dry." Absolute power. Absolute purity. "Gotta see you. Gotta be with you." Home And Dry is a sparkling example of Gerry's forte: depth of lyric. Not one for repetition, each verse is unique with thought-provoking "voice", and even the chorus has subtle differences each time it's repeated in the song. The album's pinnacle track, Home And Dry, captures the essence of the man, Gerry Rafferty.

City To City is Gerry's career crowning achievement. Gerry's solitary demeanor and shunning of publicity and its trappings limited his exposure to the music buying public, and to this day, many view Gerry as a "two-hit wonder". But, alas, those that know Gerry Rafferty's career know him as a beacon of independent living: keeping the life he desired, rather than the one that others desired for him. He was "true" for fulfilling his passion as a songwriter and singer, and not an empty passion for adulation and riches. He took the road less traveled, and toured infrequently, and eventually saw his popularity wane as a result. Few other artists have forgone the spotlight and wealth for a simple, straightforward lifestyle, and most who do are not recognized at all as their talents may be a shallow well. Rafferty, however, managed to walk that thread-fine line between being used by the record label like a ragged and worn mannequin, or fading away entirely. No, Gerry managed to hone his craft and play it right down the line, if you will, and remained alive and viable to those fans sincere to his music over decades. The constant fans appreciate that Gerald was as talented as the best of his contemporaries, the ones that had multiple gold records, but that he elected to live his life differently. A man's worth, in the end, is in his ability to follow the beat of his own drummer. And to this, one must raise a pint of stout to Gerry Rafferty.

The late songwriter remained productive and dedicated to his music, although flying below conventional pop radar, until his untimely death from the scurvy of alcohol and advanced liver disease on January 4, 2011. Gerry peaked in creativity, maturity, and strength of voice on the 1978 gem, City To City. Listen to it loudly and appreciate every tape pop, every hiss, every cymbal and guitar twang. It's real music, written and performed by a real artist. In Rafferty's City To City, you will hear lyrical variety that is seldom recorded now, forty years later, by any musician. Rafferty is a "natural" songwriter, and his heart will live on in his gift to us, City To City.

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