Song of the Day, August 19: Stuck In the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel

StealersStuckToday’s song is Stuck In the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel. The core of this tumultuous band was Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan. The pair were school chums growing up in the Scottish town of Paisley. Rafferty launched a musical career with the Humblebums and a solo album before hooking back up with Egan and forming Stealers Wheel. Based on Rafferty’s growing reputation and the band’s live sound, they were signed to A&M and assigned legendary songwriting team Lieber and Stoller as their producers.

The band’s best known song is also their finest, the wryly paranoid Stuck In the Middle With You. Rafferty and Egan wrote it after a frustrating meal with label executives who talked across them. Drawing lyrical inspiration from Bob Dylan — notably the clowns and jokers of the chorus — they built a memorable folk-rock masterpiece. With sly delivery and a surging pop beat, the song is full of hooks. The simple instrumentation, mostly acoustic and driven by a cowbell, adds to its charm.

Released as their first single, it became a million-selling smash on both sides of the Atlantic, going to #6 in the US and #8 in the UK. Sadly, label, turnover, and personality issues got in the way, and Stealers Wheel derailed after a spotty second album. Rafferty went on to a notable solo career before his death in 2011.

Stuck In the Middle With You has become a rock classic. Quentin Tarantino used it as a memorable soundtrack element in his first movie, Reservoir Dogs, bringing it to the attention of a new generation. Its smart lyrics, catchy sound, and timeless delivery cement its place as one of the most enduring songs of the early 70s.

Enjoy this fun classic today.

About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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