Gerald was an unwanted third son to his father, so his mother took Gerald on long walks each Saturday night so they would not be available when his father came home drunk. To avoid a beating, Gerald and his mother would wait outside in all weathers until his father fell asleep.
Gerald was 16 when his father died, so he quit school to help support his mother by singing in the London subways for tips.
Gerald was a Scottish introvert who became famous, but who could have been much more so.
I closed last week’s Monday Morning Memo with a famous line from one of Gerald’s songs: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
Some people surround themselves with a low outer wall, and a high inner wall. It’s easy to get to know them, but hard to get to know them well.
Gerald was the opposite; he had a high outer wall and a low inner wall. It was nearly impossible to meet him, but those he allowed to get to know him, knew him well enough to know that he was attracted to the comfort of the familiar.
New places and new faces were emotionally exhausting to Gerald, so he drank to hide from them.
“Winding your way down on Baker Street, light in your head and dead on your feet, well, another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away, and forget about everything. This city desert makes you feel so cold. It’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul, and it’s taken you so long, to find out you were wrong, when you thought it held everything.”
In the words of his daughter, Martha,
“The soaring saxophone solo perfectly captures the endurance and triumph of the human spirit in adversity, the sun rising out of the darkness and lighting the way once again… ‘and when you wake up it’s a new morning, the sun is shining it’s a new morning, and you’re going, you’re going home’.”
On that same album was a song called Right Down the Line.
“You know I need your love, you’ve got that hold over me. Long as I’ve got your love, you know that I’ll never leave. When I wanted you to share my life, I had no doubt in my mind. And it’s been you, woman, Right down the line.”
Both songs were on a 1978 album called City to City.
That album almost didn’t get made. Gerald was not a people person.
Paul Simon openly admired Gerald’s song-writing ability.
Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney both wanted to work with Gerald, but Gerald said “no.”
According to his manager, City to City was rejected by several record label executives because of Gerald’s defensive abrasiveness. The only reason they got a record deal was because Artie Mogull, the United Artists representative, “was in a rush and never met him.”
When Rolling Stone interviewed Gerald, he said,
“To be a ‘star’ in inverted commas – that is probably the last thing I want. I knew I’d written a good bunch of songs … I remember thinking I’d be pleased if City to City sold 50,000 copies.”
City to City became a worldwide phenomenon, selling over 5.5 million copies.
Hiding from people because his outer wall wasn’t quite high enough, the great Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, drank himself to death.
Hiding from people because his outer wall wasn’t quite high enough, the great American novelist, Jack Kerouac, drank himself to death.
Hiding from people because his outer wall wasn’t quite high enough, the great Scottish songwriter, Gerry Rafferty, drank himself to death.
His daughter, Martha Rafferty, gathered a collection of her father’s unpublished recordings during the lockdown of 2020 and posted them, with these comments, on a website.
“His evolution as a songwriter was intimately connected to his love and joy of singing. Singing was home for him, and he returned to it every day wherever he found himself, harmony especially so. He loved the company of singing with others and nothing gave him more joy, as those who have sat around a table with him will testify. That was his way of putting his mental disarray back in order. Despite his struggles with mental health and the resulting addiction, he left a lasting legacy and body of work which will endure for generations to come. I hope you discover something new here, we will be updating as we go as new releases of unpublished work become available, so keep checking in.
Thanks for listening,
Do you have a high outer wall and a low inner wall? People with high outer walls have fewer friends, but they are usually friends for life.
Do you have a low outer wall? If you are in the public eye – such as a celebrity or a politician or a minister – people will expect you to have a low outer wall.
If you don’t, they will not love you.
Sometimes it is good to think about things like this.
Roy H. Williams