In many ways for me the very definition of the start of Friday night are the opening bars of this song. You never get to hear them on the radio because they always play the shorter single version and you miss that lush, sad, sweet, slow Randy Crawford intro.
They used to call this prologuey bit of a song the 'verse' - all those old Jerome Kern and Cole Porter and George & Ira Gerswin tunes have got them, and Ella used to include them but most other singers dropped them and they got forgotten.
For me the entire loveliness of 'Street Life' is in the shift from this blue beginning to the 1-2-3-4-GO! horns that launch the rest of the song. And then the song and Joe Sample's keyboards and arrangement really get a chance to breath in this luxuriously lengthy 11 minute version. It ends properly too - you think it'll fade, but in the dying seconds you get a soft echo of that first 1-2-3-4 and we're done.
Lyrically it's a perfect evocation of the sadness at the heart of the glitz of an urban Friday or Saturday night. The kind of thing, in an entirely different musical context, Tom Waits used to write about so well.
Are you getting that I love this record?
The Crusaders - 'Street Life' (1979)
Patti Smith update: The Roundhouse is beautiful - do go if you get the chance; she opened with 'Gloria' and 'Redondo Beach'; 'Are You Experienced?' and 'Within You Without You' (yes, that one) were cover high-points and she told a very funny rambly story about visiting the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone. You had to be there. Hope I'm in such good form when I'm 60...(maybe I shouldn't have had those last two double Jack Daniels mind. My head hurts and we're out of Nurofen.)