The Joker (song)

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This article is about the Steve Miller Band song. For other songs with the same title, see Joker (disambiguation).
"The Joker"
Cover of the 1973 single
Single by Steve Miller Band
from the album The Joker
B-side see track listings
Released October 1973
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, CD
Genre Heartland rock, blues rock, psychedelic rock, folk rock, pop rock
Length 4:26 (Album version)
3:35 (7" version)
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Eddie Curtis, Ahmet Ertegün, Steve Miller
Producer(s) Steve Miller
Steve Miller Band singles chronology
"Fandango"
(1972)
"The Joker"
(1973)
"Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash"
(1974)
"Take the Money and Run"/"The Joker"
(1983, double A-side, live)
Cover of the 1983 live single
Steve Miller Band chronology
"Living in the U.S.A." (live)
(1983)
"Take the Money and Run" (live)/"The Joker" (live)
(1983)
"Shangri-La"
(1984)
"The Joker"
(1990, reissue)
Cover of the 1990 reissue
Steve Miller Band chronology
"Ya Ya"
(1988)
"The Joker"
(1990)
Wide River
(1993)

"The Joker" is a song by the Steve Miller Band from their 1973 album The Joker. It is one of two Steve Miller Band songs that feature the nonce word "pompatus". The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in early 1974.[1]

More than 16 years later, in September 1990, it reached number one in the UK Singles Chart for two weeks[2] after being used in "Great Deal", a Hugh Johnson-directed television advertisement for Levi's, thus holding the record for the longest gap between transatlantic chart-toppers. This reissue of "The Joker" also topped the Irish Singles Chart,[3] the New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart,[4] the Dutch Nationale Top 100[5] and the Dutch Top 40.[6]

The first line of the lyrics is a reference to the song "Space Cowboy" from Miller's Brave New World album. Following lines refer to two other songs: "Gangster of Love" from Sailor and "Enter Maurice" from Recall the Beginning...A Journey from Eden.

Inspiration and writing[edit]

During the song, Steve Miller references The Clovers' 1954 song "Lovey Dovey" when he sings "You're the cutest thing that I ever did see/ Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree / Lovey dovey, lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time".

The song is noted for its wolf whistle played on a slide guitar after the "lovey dovey" parts and the "some people call me Maurice" part.

The line "some people call me Maurice / 'Cause I speak of the pompatus of love" was written after Miller heard the song "The Letter" by The Medallions. In "The Letter", writer Vernon Green made up the word puppetutes, meaning a secret erotic female paper-doll fantasy figure;[7] however, Miller misheard the word and wrote pompatus instead.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

The song appears in the The Simpsons episode "The Way We Was".

The song is mentioned at length in chapter 30 of the German novel Nachhinein by Lisa Kränzler (de).

The song is referenced in the 2011 Fountains of Wayne song "Radio Bar".

The song is sung in the TV show That 70's Show in Season 4 episode 24.

The song is featured in the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour and was made available as a downloadable track for the Rock Band series.

Joey from the TV show Friends had an imaginary best friend as a child named Maurice who was a Space Cowboy mentioned in the episode "The One With The Embryos."

In the MMORPG DC Universe Online, the Joker (when played as a Legends character) will occasionally reference the song by saying, "Nobody calls me the space cowboy, or the gangster of love for that matter!"

Johnny Depp, playing the part of vampire Barnabas Collins, refers to The Joker in the 2012 film Dark Shadows. After telling his distant relative, Carolyn Stoddard, "I'm rather fond of the music of the day," Barnabas poetically recites the lines:

I am a picker.
I am a grinner.
I am a lover.
And I am a sinner.
I play my music in the sun.

He gestures with his right hand during the recitation, and he reaches out with it on the last line. His fingertips sizzle and smoke when they enter the sunlight.

Track listings[edit]

7" single (1973)
  1. "The Joker" – 3:36
  2. "Something to Believe In" – 4:40
7" single (1983 - live version)
  1. "The Joker" (live) – 2:55
  2. "Take the Money and Run" (live) – 3:49
7" single (1990)
  1. "The Joker" (single version) – 3:34
  2. "Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around" – 2:27
12" maxi (1990)
  1. "The Joker" (LP version) – 4:22
  2. "Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around" – 2:27
  3. "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma" – 5:39
CD maxi (1990)
  1. "The Joker" (single version) – 3:34
  2. "Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around" – 2:27
  3. "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma" – 3:33
  4. "Living in the U.S.A." – 3:59

Certifications[edit]

Country Certification Date Sales certified
U.S.[9] Gold January 11, 1974 500,000
Sweden[10] Gold February 6, 1991 10,000

Charts[edit]

Chart (1973/1974) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[1] 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles[11] 2
Dutch Daverende 30[5] 18
Dutch Top 40[12] 18
Chart (1990/1991) Peak
position
Austrian Singles Chart[13] 5
Dutch Nationale Top 100[5] 1
Dutch Top 40[6] 1
French SNEP Singles Chart[14] 33
Irish Singles Chart[3] 1
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[4] 1
Norwegian Singles Chart[15] 2
Swedish Singles Chart[16] 4
Swiss Singles Chart[17] 5
UK Singles Chart[2] 1
Preceded by
"Time in a Bottle" by Jim Croce
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
January 12, 1974 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Show and Tell" by Al Wilson"
Preceded by
"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" by Bombalurina
Irish IRMA number-one single
September 6, 1990 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Useta Lover" by The Saw Doctors"
Preceded by
"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" by Bombalurina
UK Singles Chart number-one single
September 9, 1990 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Show Me Heaven" by Maria McKee
Preceded by
"Verdammt, ich lieb' dich" by Matthias Reim
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
November 3, 1990 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Show Me Heaven" by Maria McKee
Preceded by
"Verdammt, ich lieb' dich" by Matthias Reim
Dutch Nationale Top 100 number-one single
November 10, 1990 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Show Me Heaven" by Maria McKee
Preceded by
"Trippin'" by Push Push
New Zealand RIANZ number-one single
May 10, 1991 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Trippin'" by Push Push

Cover versions[edit]

"The Joker"
Single by k.d. lang
from the album Drag
Released 1997
Genre Adult contemporary
Length 4:44
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Eddie Curtis, Ahmet Ertegün, Steve Miller
Producer(s) k.d. lang, Craig Street
k.d. lang singles chronology
"Sexuality"
(1996)
"The Joker"
(1997)
"Theme from the Valley of the Dolls"
(1997)
"The Joker"
Single by Fatboy Slim
from the album Palookaville
Released February 28, 2005 (2005-02-28)
Recorded 2004
Genre Big beat
Label Astralwerks, Skint
Writer(s) Eddie Curtis, Ahmet Ertegün, Steve Miller
Producer(s) Fatboy Slim, Simon Thornton
Fatboy Slim singles chronology
"Wonderful Night"
(2004)
"The Joker"
(2005)
"Don't Let the Man Get You Down"
(2005)
Alternative cover
Remix single

Covers[edit]

Album tracks[edit]

Live cover performances[edit]

Sampling[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Steve Miller Band > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved October 5, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Chart Stats - The Steve Miller Band - The Joker". Retrieved October 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "irishcharts.ie search results". Retrieved October 5, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "charts.org.nz - Steve Miller Band - The Joker". Retrieved October 5, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c "dutchcharts.nl - Steve Miller Band - The Joker" (in Dutch). Retrieved October 5, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Nederlandse Top 40 - Week 44, 1990" (in Dutch). Retrieved October 5, 2009. 
  7. ^ 'In Steve Miller's "The Joker," what is "the pompatus of love"?'
  8. ^ "S03E06". Never Mind the Buzzcocks. BBC2.
  9. ^ U.S. certifications riaa.com (Retrieved April 10, 2009)
  10. ^ Swedish certifications Ifpi.se (Retrieved April 10, 2009)
  11. ^ "RPM Volume 20 No. 24, January 26, 1974 - RPM". Retrieved October 6, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - Week 47, 1973" (in Dutch). Retrieved October 5, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Steve Miller Band - The Joker - austriancharts.at" (in German). Retrieved October 6, 2009. 
  14. ^ "lescharts.com - Steve Miller Band - The Joker" (in French). Retrieved October 6, 2009. 
  15. ^ "norwegiancharts.com - Steve Miller Band - The Joker". Retrieved October 6, 2009. 
  16. ^ "swedishcharts.com - Steve Miller Band - The Joker". Retrieved October 6, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Steve Miller Band - The Joker - hitparade.ch" (in German). Retrieved October 6, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Chart Stats - Fatboy Slim - The Joker". Retrieved October 13, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins dot com". Retrieved September 28, 2009. 
  20. ^ "The Howard Stern Radio Show". 17 Apr 2013. Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Howard 100.

External links[edit]