“Stuck in the Middle with You” (sometimes known as “Stuck in the Middle“) is a song written by Scottish musicians Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan and originally performed by their band Stealers Wheel.
The band performed the song on the BBC’s Top of the Pops in May 1973, and the song charted at number 8 in the UK Singles Chart. It also became an international hit, reaching number 6 in the US Billboard Hot 100.
“Stuck in the Middle” was released on Stealers Wheel’s 1972 eponymous debut album. Gerry Rafferty provided the lead vocals, with Joe Egan singing harmony. It was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Rafferty’s lyrics are a dismissive tale of a music industry cocktail party written and performed as a pastiche of Bob Dylan.
The band was surprised by the single’s chart success. The single sold over one million copies, eventually peaking at number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, number 8 in the UK, and number 2 in Canada.
The band appeared playing the song on BBC’s Top of the Pops on 18 May 1973.
The video portrays the band performing in a corner of a large, empty building. Their performance is intercut with shots of Egan, miming to a vocal track by Rafferty (who had by then left the band), at a small banquet table with a number of garishly-dressed and made-up supper guests. These include an actual clown, a bespectacled bowler-hatted gent devouring spaghetti and a lavishly dressed woman eating cream cakes and grapes. The clown, who has difficulty eating a plastic chicken, continually squeezes Egan out whenever he tries to take food from the table. The guitar solo is played on a guitar played flat with an empty beer bottle used as a slide. Eventually, the other band members appear, driving off the strange characters so that Egan can sit down at last.
Leif Garrett released a version of the song on his 1980 album, Can’t Explain.
The song is used in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 debut film Reservoir Dogs, during the scene in which the character Mr. Blonde (played by Michael Madsen) taunts and tortures bound policeman Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz) while singing and dancing to the song. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Tarantino recalled
“That was one of those things where I thought [the song] would work really well, and [during] auditions, I told the actors that I wanted them to do the torture scene, and I’m gonna use ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ but they could pick anything they wanted, they didn’t have to use that song. And a couple people picked another one, but almost everyone came in with ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ and they were saying that they tried to come up with something else, but that’s the one. The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!’ “
American baroque pop band San Fermin performed a version of the song in July 2015 for The A.V. Club‘s A.V. Undercover series.
In one episode of the show Malcolm in the Middle, Hal is shown listening to the song on a record as various events occur around him.
A cover by Grace Potter is the opening theme of the Netflix series Grace & Frankie.
In an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia titled “Charlie Catches a Leprechaun,” Charlie re-enacts the scene from Reservoir Dogs in the basement while the song plays.
An episode of Supernatural is titled “Stuck in the Middle (With You),” in which the characters re-enact a scene from Reservoir Dogs.
A disco cover version by Louise was a chart hit in 2001.
Alternative rock band Lazlo Bane covered the song for their 2007 cover album Guilty Pleasures. Their version was used in the 2014 film Let’s Be Cops and released on the soundtrack album.
In “I Am the Future,” the season finale of Happy!, Happy re-enacts the scene from Reservoir Dogs by tickling another imaginary friend while the song is playing to find out why and where Very Bad Santa is.
In 1997 Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune suggested that the Sheryl Crow song “All I Wanna Do”, released on her 1993 debut album Tuesday Night Music Club, was “a re-write” of “Stuck in the Middle With You.”