The Joker (Steve Miller Band song)

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"The Joker"
Steve Miller Band The Joker 1973 single cover.jpg
Single by Steve Miller Band
from the album The Joker
B-side"'see track listings'"
ReleasedOctober 1973
Format
RecordedAugust 1973
Genre
Length
  • 4:26 (album version)
  • 3:35 (single version)
LabelCapitol
Songwriter(s)
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
Cover of the 1983 live single
Steve Miller Band singles chronology
""Living in the U.S.A." (live)"
(1983)
""Take the Money and Run" (live)/"The Joker" (live)"
(1983)
"Shangri-La"
(1984)
Steve Miller Band singles 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]

The song's accompaniment is borrowed heavily from the song "Soul Sister" By Allen Toussaint. 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 paper-doll erotic fantasy figure;[7] however, Miller misheard the word and wrote pompatus instead.[8]

Formats and 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

Personnel[edit]

  • Steve Miller – guitar, lead vocals
  • Gerald Johnson – bass, backing vocals
  • Dick Thompson – organ
  • John King – drums

Certifications[edit]

Country Certification Date Sales certified
Sweden[9] Gold February 6, 1991 25,000
United Kingdom[10] Silver October 1, 1990 200,000
United States[11] Gold January 11, 1974 1,000,000

Charts[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

"The Joker"
Single by k.d. lang
from the album Drag
Released1997
Length4:44
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(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"
Slim Joker.jpg
Single by Fatboy Slim
from the album Palookaville
ReleasedFebruary 28, 2005 (2005-02-28)
Recorded2004
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Fatboy Slim
Fatboy Slim singles chronology
"Wonderful Night"
(2004)
"The Joker"
(2005)
"Don't Let the Man Get You Down"
(2005)
Alternative cover
Remix single
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 "The Official Charts Company – The Steve Miller Band – The Joker". Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  3. ^ "irishcharts.ie search results". Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "charts.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. ^ Swedish certifications Ifpi.se Archived 2012-05-21 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved March 24, 2016)
  10. ^ UK certifications bpi.co.uk (Retrieved March 24, 2016)
  11. ^ US certifications riaa.com Archived 2007-06-26 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved March 24, 2016)
  12. ^ "RPM Volume 20 No. 24, January 26, 1974 – RPM". Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  13. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Week 47, 1973" (in Dutch). Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  14. ^ "Top Singles of 1974". Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  15. ^ "Steve Miller Band – The Joker – austriancharts.at" (in German). Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  16. ^ "lescharts.com – Steve Miller Band – The Joker" (in French). Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts – search result". Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  18. ^ "norwegiancharts.com – Steve Miller Band – The Joker". Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  19. ^ "swedishcharts.com – Steve Miller Band – The Joker". Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  20. ^ "Steve Miller Band – The Joker – hitparade.ch" (in German). Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  21. ^ "End of Year Charts 1991". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  22. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Fatboy Slim – The Joker". Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  23. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins dot com". Retrieved September 28, 2009.
  24. ^ The Howard Stern Radio Show. New York. 17 Apr 2013. Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Howard 100.

External links[edit]