Started Out with Nothing

Keyboardist Joe Egan and guitarist Gerry Rafferty were a duo of Scottish musicians known as Stealers Wheel and ‘Stuck in The Middle’ was recorded on their 1972 album Stealers Wheel and this song was produced by legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  Besides lead singers Egan and Rafferty, the other members were guitarist Paul Pilnick, bassist Tony Williams, and drummer Rod Coombes.  The pop, bubble-gum song sounds a lot like something that Dylan would write or sing and it charted #8 in the UK and went to #6 in the US.  The Scottish folk rock/rock band formed in 1972 in Paisley, Scotland, by former school friends Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty, they broke up in 1975 after going through frequent changes in the line-up, and re-formed briefly in 2008.  In 1992, Quentin Tarantino used the track ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ for his Reservoir Dogs movie, which brought new attention to the band.

Rafferty said this song was composed as a joke and written as a parody of Bob Dylan’s paranoia, and it ridiculed a music industry cocktail party.  The song refers to the people in the record business management and executives of record labels, who are the clowns and jokers.  When Stealers Wheel was signed to their label, they attended a signing party at a fancy London restaurant.  Rafferty described the scene as being similar to “the Last Supper”, because everyone was sitting around a long table.  The song is about the weasels in the record industry, the guys in the band getting drunk, and trying to get out of the entire thing, which they detested.  It is about a guy that gets invited to a fancy dinner party thrown by bigwigs in suits, snobs and assorted other elites, and in the beginning he feels awkward and he is terrified of making a bad impression, but after he spends time with them, he realizes that they are just a bunch of assholes.

Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,
And I’m wondering what it is I should do,
It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
Well you started out with nothing,
And you’re proud that you’re a self made man,
And your friends, they all come crawlin,
Slap you on the back and say,
Please, please
Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all,
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,
‘Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
Well you started out with nothing,
And you’re proud that you’re a self made man,
And your friends, they all come crawlin,
Slap you on the back and say,
Please, please
Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you,
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,
Stuck in the middle with you, here I am stuck in the middle with you

Written for Song Lyric Sunday Bottom/End/Middle/Side/Top.

18 thoughts on “Started Out with Nothing

  1. Sounds about right. Welcome to the music industry. Just like religions have very little to do with the subjects who inspired them, the music industry has very little to do with music. Good choice and good post, Jim.

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      1. I loved it in the movie. It was the perfect soundtrack in my mind but when I listen to the song I don’t think about the movie. I think the song has a character to it that is bigger than that movie scene. The scene needs the song but the song doesn’t need the scene.

        Liked by 2 people

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