Today I would like to discuss two popular songs and examine why they exceeded the originals. Long Cool Woman (in a black dress) was popular and continues to be well known today. What I did not know was the Hollies who created the song were inspired by the John Fogerty’s band Creedence Clearwater Revival song Green River. The topic of the was different from Fogerty’s typical country themed songs, but the singer used the style of singing he heard on the song Green River. Long Cool Woman’s popularity greatly exceeds Green River.
The second song is Stuck In The Middle by Stealers Wheel. Stealers Wheel was comprised of Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan. There is a music video for the song, but its not Gerry Rafferty in the video. Gerry Rafferty had quit due to some kind of disagreement so when it came time to create the video Joe Egan pretends to sing the song. Although the video is not very good, it’s a time capsule. This song was popular at the time, then declined until it was rediscovered in the 90s. I first found the song on file sharing and it was being circulated with Bob Dylan credited as the artist, because no one had heard of Stealers Wheel. I downloaded the song and I believed it to be Bob Dylan because I was not very familiar with Bob Dylan’s minor hits. I later noticed because I got Sirius Radio it was listed as being by Stealers Wheel. But I had no idea that Gerry Rafferty was the singer.
We all know the song Baker Street. But Stuck in the Middle did not sound like Gerry Rafferty because he was imitating Bob Dylan’s style when he sang it. Stuck In The Middle With You also features country music style riffs and it was good enough to fool people into thinking it was by Bob Dylan before the Wikipedia Revolution. I believe Stuck In The Middle exceeds Bob Dylan because Bob Dylan is often cited as being iconic, but he does not get much airplay.
The lyrics on Bob Dylan’s biggest hit Like A Rollingstone can have an adverse effect on the listener. The song is about Edie Sedgwick who came from a wealthy background but was brought to a low point by the use of drugs. People have speculated the lyric about the “a Napoleon in rags” is a reference to Andy Warhol. But the song may be about hypothetical or fictional girl because Edie Sedgwick was never homeless. The woman whose life more closely fits the song is Marianne Faithfull. Marianne Faithfull was homeless for years until she got her life together. Although Edie Sedgwick died from a drug overdose she was married and with her husband. She was not homeless and on the streets. But at the time the song was released in 1965 none of this had come to pass. When the song comes on the radio I think of Edie and Marianne and I feel disturbed because Bob Dylan lacks any compassion for the woman in his song. Whatever his feelings are about her, he is not going to help her in anyway. He wants to leave her to a grim fate of homeless and prostitution. Dylan sings the song smugly pleased with the tragedy. According to Song Facts: Sedgwick and Dylan had a brief affair shortly before the musician married Sarah Lownds, and many say that this Dylan song was written about her. It should be noted that there is absolutely nothing beyond circumstantial evidence to support this idea, but the myth is so widely known that it’s taken on a life of its own and is therefore recognizable on its own terms.
One the other hand Stuck In The Middle is not an optimistic song lyrically, but it’s upbeat and catchy. This is a song that one can listen on the radio without thinking unpleasant and sad thoughts. Since Stuck In The Middle been rediscovered it gets frequent play on streaming services and Sirius Radio. Although Stealers Wheel does did not have anything close to Bob Dylan’s large iconic body of work, I feel Stuck In The Middle exceeds any of Bob Dylan’s songs. I admire Bob Dylan and acknowledge his great influence and contribution to popular music, but I like Stuck In The Middle better.