Gerry Mandering

Rock & Pop - Pop - Gerry Rafferty - #gerry_rafferty2_ab_nThe local dog park attracts an interesting bunch of dog owners. A few of us play musical instruments of various sorts, and we have hatched the idea of doing a short Gerry Rafferty gig one evening.  So I have been practising playing his songs.

I have a book of them arranged for piano, published by PolyGram Music, which is good for extracting the saxophone parts, chord sequences etc.  But what is the curious is the way they have changed the lyrics.  Thus, for example, the opening line of Whatever’s Written In Your Heart, which is really:

Waking up here on a rainy day

I swore last time that I would stay away

Comes out as:

Waking up here on a rainy day

I swore my stamina would stay away

Now who on earth goes around the place swearing that their stamina would stay away? It is just not something that one does. Quite a few of us swear that we might well try to regain our stamina, and go to the gym and stuff with precisely that in mind. And on the other hand, if one does not have any stamina, and one wants to keep it that way, then why on earth go around swearing about it? Surely, one would just keep quiet, especially first thing in the morning if the weather is a bit dreary?

Equally bizarre is the opening of Shipyard Town, which is song about how Gerry Rafferty met his wife Carla when he was just 18, playing in a band, and she was just 15. It is a poignant song from the album North and South, written many years later when she divorced him, but he obviously still adored her. It begins:

In a dance hall by the river, I was singing in a travelling band

Just another small town night, with a silver moon shining

I remember when I saw you, that first moment when it all began

You looked across a crowded room and stole my heart away

PolyGram Music have it like this:

Invincible by the river, I was singing in a travelling band

Just another small town, with silver moonshine

I remember when I saw you, that was the moment when it all began

You looked across a crowded room and stole my heart away

There are a number of anomalies here. First, Gerry was plainly not, as a teenager, “invincible”.  He was painfully shy all his life, which probably goes to explain why he hated performing in public so much. And anyway, even if someone was prone to a bit of invincibility, why go down to the river to display it?  Surely, one would head up a hill, or stand in front of a car’s headlights, or something like that?

Secondly, we are talking about Glasgow here. Glasgow is not a small town. They might have small town nights, but it is the gigs that are small, not the town.  Some people say uncomplimentary things about Glasgow, others love it.  But either way, small it is not.

And then, what is the thing with the moonshine?  Gerry was fond of a drink, for sure, but he would have been drinking pints of beer in those days, not moonshine. And what on God’s earth is “silver moonshine”? Moonshine might be clear, or might have a disturbing brownish tinge to it, but it is hard to imagine it as silver. The whole idea is just silly.

Whatever the reason for these bizarre changes, it seems that Gerry himself never bothered to check the proofs.  The book was published just a few years before he died, at a time when he was not in good shape at all.  Those of us who like both playing music and walking our dogs will aim for a bit more authenticity.



Filed under Culture, News from at home

3 responses to “Gerry Mandering

  1. Moonlight (moonshine) is silver to some of us. Allow some poetic (initially misspelled by my phone most appropriately as optic) license!

  2. I am with the Oxford English Dictionary – moonshine as a synonym for moonlight is obsolete. It now means illicitly distilled or smuggled spirits. Or sometimes foolish or visionary talk. That, at any rate, is my humble opinion. And besides, Gerry was not a man for quaint obsolescence in his lyrics.

  3. Pingback: Leading question | phenell

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