Gerry Rafferty

Night Owl

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Song Review by

Both "Night Owl" the song and Night Owl the album faired much better in the U.K. than in the United States. The track didn't make it into the Top 40 in the U.S., but it climbed to the number five spot in the U.K., while the album itself went into the Top Ten there but stalled at number 29 in the states. Night Owl expressed the pain and discontentment that Rafferty was going through in his relationship, and his song writing throughout the album stands as some of his best ever. Although two other songs from the album, "Days Gone Down" and "Get It Right Next Time," both charted, "Night Owl"'s isolated feel was right up there with them, expressing Rafferty's own internalized fear of being alone. Even the song's melody instills pathos in the way it sweeps Rafferty's lyrics along, not in ballad form but in a style that harbors a deserted, late-night feel. Whether or not "Night Owl's character is Rafferty himself or a fictional one doesn't really matter, since the lyrics muster up instant sympathy for the downtrodden wanderer, frustrated with his nightlife routine and the always present burden of growing older. The song's destitute air and Rafferty's smooth voice make the visualization of the bar's cold, impersonal atmosphere that much clearer, and his yearning for a place that he can call his own instantaneously hits home. The seclusion that is partnered with the approaching night has the song's antagonist seeking refuge beaconed to him from the false warmth of a hotel's neon sign, creating a sense of pity with both his imagery and the fragility of his voice. Other songs by Gerry Rafferty, like "Baker Street" and "Home and Dry," accommodate the same type of articulate music and songwriting, but "Night Owl"'s penurious aura makes it sound a little more personal than many of his renowned hits.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Night Owl 1979 Parlophone 4:23
Right Down the Line: The Best of Gerry Rafferty 1989 EMI Music Distribution 5:57
One More Dream: The Very Best of Gerry Rafferty 1995 Polygram 4:24
Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right: 1970-1982 1997 Raven 4:25
1979: A Time to Remember 1997 A Time To Remember 4:27
Baker Street [EMI Gold] 1998 EMI Music Distribution 6:09
No Image 1998 Phantom
Totally Sensational 70's: 1977-1979 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 6:09
The Best of 1970-1982: Days Gone Down 2006 Raven 4:24
City to City/Night Owl 2007 Collectables / EMI 6:11
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Top of the Pops 1979 2007
Various Artists
EMI 6:07
EMI Presents the Great Big Scottish Songbook 2008
Various Artists
Virgin 6:07
Essential 2011 EMI / EMI Gold 6:08
The Power of Love [Time Life]
Various Artists
Time / Life Music