The Joker (song)

"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 Rock
Length 4:41
3:35 (7" version)
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Eddie Curtis, Ahmet Ertegün, Steve Miller
Producer Steve Miller
Steve Miller Band singles chronology
"The Joker"
"Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash"
"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)
"Take the Money and Run" (live)/"The Joker" (live)
"The Joker"
(1990, reissue)
Cover of the 1990 reissue
Steve Miller Band chronology
"Ya Ya"
"The Joker"
Wide River

"The Joker" is a song by the Steve Miller Band from their 1973 album The Joker. The song is one of two Steve Miller Band songs that feature the neologism "pompatus". The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in early 1974.[1] It draws heavy influence from the Allen Toussaint's song Soul Sister featured on his 1972 album Life, Love and Faith. The bass line and the guitar effects on the intro are the same, although both songs have different lyrics and distinct melodies.[citation needed]

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 a Levi's television advertisement, 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 song is sometimes misidentified by the title "Space Cowboy"[citation needed] because of the first line of the lyrics, which actually refer to an earlier song by that title from Miller's Brave New World album. The following lines refer to two other earlier songs, "Gangster of Love" from Sailor, and "Enter Maurice" from Recall the Beginning...A Journey from Eden.

During the song, Steve Miller references lines from the 1954 The Clovers song "Lovey Dovey" four times 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 second of these mentions is during the fade-out.

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


Track listings

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


Country Certification Date Sales certified
U.S.[7] Gold January 11, 1974 1,000,000
Sweden[8] Gold February 6, 1991 10,000


Chart (1973/1974) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[1] 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles[9] 2
Dutch Daverende 30[5] 18
Dutch Top 40[10] 18
Chart (1990/1991) Peak
Austrian Singles Chart[11] 5
Dutch Nationale Top 100[5] 1
Dutch Top 40[6] 1
French SNEP Singles Chart[12] 33
Irish Singles Chart[3] 1
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[4] 1
Norwegian Singles Chart[13] 2
Swedish Singles Chart[14] 4
Swiss Singles Chart[15] 5
UK Singles Chart[2] 1
Preceded by
"Time in a Bottle" by Jim Croce
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
January 12, 1974 (1974-01-12)
Succeeded by
"Show and Tell" by Al Wilson
Preceded by
"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" by Bombalurina with Timmy Mallett
Irish IRMA number-one single
September 6, 1990 (1990-09-06)
Succeeded by
"I Useta Lover" by The Saw Doctors
UK Singles Chart number-one single
September 9, 1990 (1990-09-09) – September 22, 1990 (1990-09-22)
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 (1990-11-03) - November 16, 1990 (1990-11-16) (2 weeks)
Dutch Nationale Top 100 number-one single
November 10, 1990 (1990-11-10) - November 23, 1990 (1990-11-23) (2 weeks)
Preceded by
"Trippin'" by Push Push
New Zealand RIANZ number-one single
May 10, 1991 (1991-05-10)
Succeeded by
"Trippin'" by Push Push

Cover versions

"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 k.d. Lang, Craig Street
k.d. lang singles chronology
"The Joker"
"Theme from the Valley of the Dolls"
"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 Fatboy Slim, Simon Thornton
Fatboy Slim singles chronology
"Wonderful Night"
"The Joker"
"Don't Let the Man Get You Down"
Alternative cover
Remix single


  • k.d. lang covered it on her album Drag (1997) on which all the songs have the theme of smoking or cigarettes. The song was released as a single.
  • Fettes Brot did a German rendition of the song in 2001, retitled as "The Grosser" (English translation "The big guy").
  • Fatboy Slim reworked the song on his 2004 album Palookaville, featuring Bootsy Collins on lead vocals. This cover version reached No. 32 on the UK Singles Chart in 2005.[16]
  • Mike Myers did a cover to the song, playing a sitar, in The Love Guru.
  • Post-grunge band Puddle of Mudd covered it on their covers album Re:(disc)overed.

Album tracks

Live cover performances


Pop Culture

  • Cover version appeared in the movie My Super Ex-Girlfriend.
  • In the 2008 Hollywood movie, The Love Guru, the song is performed by Mike Myers and Manu Narayan towards the ending.
  • In the "The Way We Was" episode of The Simpsons, Homer sings along to the song while driving. Homer's rendition of the song also plays over the end credits of the episode.
  • The first lyric of the song was sung in an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast by Space Ghost, backed up by Zorak, banging tunelessly on a piano. Unable to figure out the next few lyrics, he adds: "Dumb people haul trash around!"
  • In the "That '70s Musical" episode of That '70s Show, Eric Forman, Donna Pinciotti, Steven Hyde and Michael Kelso sings it in "The Circle" in Fez's thoughts.[18]
  • The Pompatus of Love is a 1996 film based on the same notable lyrics in this song.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, many of the episodes end with the text "See you Space Cowboy...", which is a double reference to the main character and how the story is influenced by music.
  • David Letterman once did a Top 10 list of Rejected Batman villains. Included in the list were The Joker's brothers, The Smoker and The Midnight Toker (a reference to the line: I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker...).
  • It is in the video game Karaoke Revolution Volume 2.
  • The song is also featured in the video game Guitar Hero World Tour.
  • The song has also been released as downloadable content for the video game Rock Band, having been released on January 20, 2009.[19]
  • On the sitcom Friends, Joey's imaginary friend from childhood was Maurice and his occupation was "Space Cowboy."
  • On the Spike original show 1000 Ways to Die, way to die #623 is titled "MIDNIGHT CHOKER", in reference to the lyric in the song "midnight toker".
  • A character in Stephen King's novel Gerald's Game is nicknamed "The Space Cowboy" from the corresponding lyric in this song.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Patch Boomhauer", the song is used in bachelor party scenes.
  • In comedian Frank Caliendo's stand up special on TBS, he spoofs the song during an act as Batman characters and a note The Riddler has left says that he has a new partner in crime, but "because I'm the Riddler I can't tell who that partner is, but the answer lies in a song from 1974." Frank, as Robin, then says "Holy midnight tokers, Batman! It's The Joker!"
  • In the 2009 Marvel Comics limited comic series "Deadpool: Suicide Kings", Deadpool introduces himself by quoting some of the song's lines, saying, "Some people call me Deadpool, some call me the gangster of love, some people call me Maurice, 'cause I speak the pompatus of love."[20]

References and footnotes

  1. ^ a b "Steve Miller Band > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved October 5, 2009 (2009-10-05). 
  2. ^ a b "Chart Stats - The Steve Miller Band - The Joker". Retrieved October 5, 2009 (2009-10-05). 
  3. ^ a b " search results". Retrieved October 5, 2009 (2009-10-05). 
  4. ^ a b " - Steve Miller Band - The Joker". Retrieved October 5, 2009 (2009-10-05). 
  5. ^ a b c " - Steve Miller Band - The Joker (Dutch)". Retrieved October 5, 2009 (2009-10-05). 
  6. ^ a b "Nederlandse Top 40 - Week 44, 1990 (Dutch)".  (). Retrieved October 5, 2009 (2009-10-05). 
  7. ^ U.S. certifications (Retrieved April 10, 2009)
  8. ^ Swedish certifications (Retrieved April 10, 2009)
  9. ^ "RPM Volume 20 No. 24, January 26, 1974 - RPM". Retrieved October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06). 
  10. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - Week 47, 1973 (Dutch)". Retrieved October 5, 2009 (2009-10-05). 
  11. ^ "Steve Miller Band - The Joker - (German)". Retrieved October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06). 
  12. ^ " - Steve Miller Band - The Joker (French)". Retrieved October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06). 
  13. ^ " - Steve Miller Band - The Joker". Retrieved October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06). 
  14. ^ " - Steve Miller Band - The Joker". Retrieved October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06). 
  15. ^ "Steve Miller Band - The Joker - (German)". Retrieved October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06). 
  16. ^ "Chart Stats - Fatboy Slim - The Joker". Retrieved October 13, 2009 (2009-10-13). 
  17. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins dot com". Retrieved September 28, 2009 (2009-09-28). 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^

External links

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