steely dan analysis
| Record Label: MCA. Blending elements of rock, jazz, latin music, R&B, blues and sophisticated studio production with cryptic and ironic lyrics, the band enjoyed critical and commercial success starting from the early 1970s until breaking up in 1981. Steely Dan did a tour (with an awesome band) in 1993. 'Hop House' is a drug haven, the 'Tenderloin' is the meat packing section of New York City, and the 'gong' is his head (meaning he was getting high). Notice they "throw back" the little ones, but don't toss'em in the trash. And all this is in the context of 9/11, when Bush kept telling the American people, ‘Just keep shopping! When I think of Steely Dan lyrically, I think of subjects such as drugs, prostitution, sexual perversion, gambling, ill-conceived relationships, mental illness, etc.etc. A 'Wiggy Pad' is a sort of sleeping lounge pad that is place on the floor, and would certainly be inviting or a catnap. In Night By Night we see a mixture of these same dark conditions dabbed in what appears to be random association. Narcotic dependency may also engender intense paranoia); or, perhaps, some combination of maladies thereof. ABC Records, consistent in their pressure for hit singles and a tour, drive Becker and Fagen back into the studio. You can associate it with the economic problems in the world now, the sociological problems in the world, and also Fagen’s own personal situation. Oddly enough it has the feel, or evokes the memory of the Gloria Gaynor song "I Will Survive.". A 'natural man' is a person who chooses to be influenced by the passions, desires, appetites, and senses of the flesh rather than by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Enlightenment came at a cost, which usually meant selling all you had and joining the cult. One of the session men is Jeff Porcaro and a long and fruitful relationship with Fagen and Becker begins. Chelsea Tower is a 820 foot skyscraper located on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "Snowbound" continues the concept story as laid out in Kamakiriad, a journey in a dream car set in a futuristic time. With the phenomenal success of "Aja," Donald and Walter are under considerably less pressure to release new material quickly. There are many Hi Ho Clubs and Lounges scattered across America. 'Dayglow' refers to paints with a base that absorbs light and glows in the dark, or under black-lights. [color crimson]. Consider that Daddy is Donald Fagen. The creative genii behind Steely Dan (Walter Becker and Donald Fagen) have long been fond of peppering their lyrics with arcane literary and cultural references, the meaning of which can be murky at best (given the duo's legendary reticence). The end result, "Aja", is released in September 1977 and features their longest and jazziest compositions to date. He couldn't "beat the heat" (the cops finally got him) and he points out the grave that is being dug for him. Went to Bard 87-91 and man there was a lot of Steely Dan blasting out the dorm windows. I know for sure there was a 1996 and I believe a 1998 tour as well. Analyzing the music of Steely Dan Introduction: Steely Who? Mr. Becker said, "No one will ever touch Chain Lightning." "Was it the fire downtown/ that turned her world around?" Becker and Donald Fagen continued their musical collaborations over the phone, but then Becker's girlfriend died of a drug overdose. Let's break it down. Another consideration of the age difference here, with Fagen thinking he's a reptile, a dinosaur, someone too old for this beautiful young girl. It goes back more to its original use.". Dias is now a computer programmer living in Los Angeles. 'Decaf' is coffee without caffeine, sort of useless like beer with no alcohol. A brand of Mexican tequila (officially called "Jose Cuervo Especial") with a smooth, slightly sweet taste. The Fun Facts: Fagen claims that he didn’t think any of the individual songs had a title that worked for an album title, so he went searching for something suitably apocalyptic. This song seems to be about a betrayed loser lover talking to his eccentric shrink, who perhaps has stolen the guy's girl. Burbank, California, a movie city in California. A type of German brandy made from cherries, also known as "kirsch" for short. "The Night Belongs to Mona" is about a suicidal young woman, dancing in her high-rise late at night, afraid to go out in the day. Roller Skating was the 'in' thing to do in the mid 70's, usually while listening to music with headphones using a Sony Walkman cassette player. 'Spring' means to spend money for something. Locusts arrive from hibernation every 13 to 17 years. Stetson cowboy hats are the most famous, and believe it or not, began manufacturing in Philadelphia, PA ... 'Draggin' your feet' is to do something slowly because you do not want to do it. It starts with a soaring observation of youth's exuberant mystery, maybe a reference to Burroughs, but it could just as well be the Dharma Bums, hippies, or any counterculture. Can be a booth at a strip club, or a masturbation booth at a peep-show. The result was STP, and it burned out more than a few people's brains. This book on this guy was that he was so busy running around the world fighting the Crusades (remember, “the sun never sets on the British Empire”), that he was hardly ever home. There is no station in all of America with the call letters WJAZ. Camarillo is a city in Ventura County in the U.S. State of California. Even parties have rules, though when having too much fun, those rules were made to be broken. Was it the end? The Fun Facts: For the recording of Everything Must Go, a phrased derived from the description of 'Blow Out Sales' stores, Fagen and Becker returned to analog tape and a live band recording session. Down at the Lido they welcome you With sausage and beer, Klaus and the Rooster have been there too, But lately he spends his time here. 'Sutton Place is a neighbourhood in New York City, located in midtown Manhattan, alongside the East River. In 1973, aided by the Windsor Unimax 5000 computer system, a test market research investigation was initiated by Jack Tafoya, a prominent record company executive with a penthouse apartment in the Brill building. The song describes the desire a young man (Dupree) has for his attractive cousin. 'Rajah' is an Indian king or prince, 'Erase' is to remove all traces, so this would be a person skilled at erasing their path, their past, or things they've done. 'Blue Blood' is a person of noble birth. And crying' time is a reference to the Ray Charles song "Crying Time" originally penned by Buck Owens. The refrain's "what a beautiful world this will be; what a glorious time to be free" fills the listener with an uneasy desire to believe what is being said. Ignited by the burning powder, the pyrotechnic composition burns very brightly, making the projectile trajectory visible to the naked eye during daylight, and very bright during nighttime firing. This song may simply be a musical poem inspired (perhaps) by the authors' closely knowing someone afflicted with paranoia and/or outright paranoid delusions, due to either schizophrenia, a "mood" disorder with psychotic features; or, chemical dependency with drug-induced psychotic features (e.g., especially cocainism, crack intoxication, amphetamines, hallucinogens, etc. With Baxter gone, Becker begins to add more guitar work to his bass playing. He left the group in 1974 and worked as a session musician before his 1990 death. Steely Dan is known for jazz-influenced arrangements, quirky lyrics, and pristine production. The album jacket photograph: In case you were wondering, the album's cover artwork features a photo of Donald Fagen as a disc jockey, he's wearing a collared shirt and tie, speaking into a RCA 77DX microphone. Fagen sings, in the album's only explicit reference to 9/11. A 'Mind Bath' works to improve the lives of people experiencing mental ill health. Hodder drowned in the swimming pool of his Point Arena, California home, he was 42. According to Fegan and Becker, who say, “Originally the phrase ‘Everything Must Go’ was associated with stores that were not in fact going out of business but were permanently pretending to go out of business as a come-on. Reference to the TV show "Charlies Angels". Belzoini, matter of fact, there is no Mt. 'Jones' means she desires the real deal, and will do just about anything for it. "Smackedinto a trance" refers to the unfortunate prevalence of heroin and othersubstance use among the contemporary jazz community. Anachronistic means to be belonging to or appropriate to an earlier period, especially so as to seem conspicuously old-fashioned. Fifty-second Street in New York City was a hotbedof innovative jazz in the fifties. Even non-fans recognize the brilliance of their 1977 album, Aja. Was it the beginning? "Steely Dan III from Yokohama," she says, caressing the shaft. We don’t know when, or if she’s coming back, and we don’t really know how the narrator truly feels about her. 'Brubeck' is Dave Brubeck, the jazz artist. A slang term used by computer nerds, meaning to understand or comprehend. He also became one of the many in-studio adjunct members of the band, providing backing vocals on tracks for 1975's Katy Lied. The Dan flip words around here for implication, nevertheless, Duchess was a play preformed on Broadway that lasted for 24 shows in October of 1911. The word 'Aces' stands in for the word 'Joints [marijuana], while the word 'case' suggests that these joints were kept in a cigar-box, preferably a wooden on, which was often referred to as a 'stash-box', in which marijuana, rolling papers, matches, pipe-screens, and most likely a playing card or two for separating out the seeds. Becker, "I think that particular song to me, rather than being about a possible future, was more of a world of imagination and constructs." Steely Dan’s music offers many rewarding opportunities to explore a great deal of compositional and analytical terrain, some of which is partially mapped out in the literature and others—particularly the affinity of slash chords with evidence of keyboard-based thinking in Rameau’s early theoretical writing (see below)—yet to be explored to much extent. When it comes to combining funk, jazz and rock there are few bands who did it as good as Steely Dan. Assholes need not apply". He waits until responsible adults are out of the picture, then invites you to "take off your cheaters" (glasses). Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, and runs for 20 miles. She was a sensitive girl, she was unlucky in love, and she kind of lost it there and there was a terrible taxicab accident, she was also was a good bowler, and everybody loves a good bowler. Rudy's is located on Ninth Avenue and 44th Street in the heart of the formerly-infamous (but now-gentrified) Hell's Kitchen district of Manhattan. 'Iron' indicates one's strength, 'Brass' their weakness. Gramercy Park is a small, fenced-in private park and the surrounding neighborhood that is referred to also as Gramercy, in the New York City. She creates quite a stir any time she returns. My Interpretation I have read "homages to the 70s and 80s", but never seen a real analysis of this song. Reference to burning down Vietnamese villages. A fictions product to enhance your girl's beauty ... though it may be intended to enhance other things. What is the "song of the past"? The boys reconnect with their simple, sensitive side and contrast their new sparkling selves with the dirt and sordid reputation of N'Oleans … with a nod to acceptance and perhaps mastering addiction, meaning that the Pearl could be both a drug or a woman of the night. 'Jungle Music' was slang for rock n' roll. Another fictions town from Fagen's demented mind. 'An indispensable compendium for Steely Dan fans' The Wire At its core a creative marriage between Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, Steely Dan are one of the defining and bestselling American rock acts of the last half-century, recording several of the cleverest and best-produced albums of the '70s - from the breathlessly catchy Can't Buy a Thrill to the sleekly sinister Gaucho. A take on the old saying "Monkey See, Monkey Do": A pidgin-style saying that appeared in American culture in the early 1920's. If you read a drug connection into this song, you're on the right track. Whoever knocks the bar off or falls is eliminated from the contest. Christ likely refused this drink knowing that its bitter taste meant it was more of a poison than a painkiller. They both felt an affinity with the "Jazz Life.". On the wall behind is a large clock, indicating that the time is 4:09, though whether it is A.M. or P.M. is unclear ... for all intent and purposes, we should infer from the album title Nightfly that Fegan is referencing the term 'barfly' [a person who spends copious amounts of time in a bar] and consider this to be the graveyard shift. Why the step away from digital? A town in California, south-west of Hollywood most notable for being the original location of MGM Studios. On his track Donald Fagen offers a triumphant tale of perseverance after failed love. This line is a play on the words 'Turn On', meaning to drop (to take) LSD, though Fagan and Becker saw acid as menacing, thus phrasing it as 'Turned it (loose) on the world'. Oleanders bloom from spring until the end of summer, producing large clusters of flowers in shades of yellow, white, pink or red at the tips of the stems. Breithaupt smartly focuses on unassailable facts (poetic devices used in the lyrics, harmonic devices uses in the music) painting a picture of the level of detail involved in composing a Steely Dan song. Medication used to relieve moderate to severe pain, belonging to a class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics. Its nickname is the Showplace of the Nation, and it was for a time the leading tourist destination in the city. And with an eerily prescient "why do you tremble each time they pass by?" 'Ion Grid': The grid is composed of three units, a grid, row(s) and column(s). Martha's 'Vineyard' is an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts that is known for being an affluent summer colony. The 'baion', is syncopated with the “and” of beat two tied to the quarter-note on beat three, apply this rhythm to a simple triad, and you now have one of the most popular riffs in history. "The Great Pagoda of Funn," a frankly sentimental ballad about two lovers who try to shut out the harsh world. Members of the Church of Latter Day Saints are not permitted to dance. “Pixeleen” is a song that is ostensibly about a girl who fights crime. It involves a young hippie and his search for the meaning of life while in Central Park. Jill St. John (born Jill Arlyn Oppenheim; August 19, 1940) is an American actress. …”Deacon Blues”, I think contains a hidden earnestness. In the guitar break just before the second verse, I was gonna say, "Forty years later," but we decided it wasn't a good musical idea. What Jack appears to do again and again is making a mess of his life in a country that is supposedly a "land of milk and honey". During the sessions, Becker was severely injured after getting hit by a car. The duo has been coy about the line, but legend has it that Walter Becker's girlfriend loved the Eagles and played them all the time, which bothered him a bit. An 'ax' is a guitar. In addition, there are a good amount of transcriptions out there of Steely Dan material. "Aja" becomes their first platinum album and reaches #3 on the album chart, trailing only mega-sellers Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" and Billy Joel's "The Stranger." It is self-sufficient as a “generic” Steely Dan image. The blues song "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)" has the line "the eagle flies on Friday, and Saturday I go out to play". 'New Frontier' was a slogan or rallying cry used by John F. Kennedy, originating in a June 1960 speech he made while accepting the Democratic Party nomination for the 1960 U.S. presidential election. Becker told Rolling Stone during their 2009 tour: "It's about that uneasy relationship between the patient and doctor. They are usually slim-fitting and are either knee-length, lower-calf-length, or somewhere in between. A reference to Hooter (A can of bar-restaurants with big breasted scantly clad young women) girls, who may perhaps turn a few tricks once the crowd thins out. 'Walking between raindrops' is similar to 'dodging bullets,' meaning that one is avoiding disaster by a small margin, or perhaps having great fortune in that you can walk through the rain and not get wet. The song's first verse celebrates partying barefoot with cheap "grapefruit wine", but the narrator (Donald Fagen) is dismayed by the music selection playing on the accompanying FM radio, singing, "nothing but blues and Elvis/And somebody else's favorite songs," instead of the "hungry reggae" and "funked-up Muzak" he would like to hear. In German, the Gretchenfrage (question by Gretchen), derived from Faust, is an idiom for a direct question that aims at the core of a problem and that should reveal the intentions and mindset of the questionee. Crashing the backboard, or Backboard shattering occurs when a player slam dunks the ball hard enough to break the 1/2" tempered safety glass of the backboard. I recall strolling through LSU’s Quadrangle late one night and as I glanced over to see the library, I noticed that someone had spray painted on the concrete wall fronting the building, in large capital letters, “I’M LESTER THE NIGHTFLY HELLO BATON ROUGE.” I chuckled to myself thinking that at least this vandal’s got good taste in music." 'Rain' makes it clear that no matter how noble or rich a person is, everyone is subject to getting wet in the rain, thus leveling the playing field. Jim was an American drummer, best known as an early member of Steely Dan. The masters for this recording have been lost, with a significant reward for anyone who can come up with another. The term "banyan" includes many subspecies such as Indian Banyans, Chinese Banyans, Sacred Figs, and the sinister-sounding Florida Strangler Fig! This is a reference to Jesus being offered wine before his crucifixion, a mixture of wine and gall was commonly given to criminals before their execution in order to ease some of their suffering. Steely Dan have no shortage of songs to their name. A rebus is an allusional device that uses pictures to represent words or parts of words. Royce Jones is a Grammy-winning American musician best known for his work as a touring vocalist with the bands Steely Dan from 1973 through 1974. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs. With true western imagery, 'water' stands in for the 'money' the narrator was cheated out of. Pronounced: [vule vu]; French for "Do you want?". The last hangers-on, pick themselves up and dust themselves off at daybreak before heading home. Steely Dan - All the facts and hidden meanings from a band who changed how I listened to music ... by Jenell Kesler. Teen is certainly short for teenager, thus ultra-teen would suggest a teen with super abilities. Columns will expand to fill their row, and will resize to fit additional columns. Fagen and Becker later said this gave the recorded songs a live kind of feel, since they were in the studio with basically their touring band. It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off-beat. The song "F.M. It could also include perception of stimuli from within the body, such as pain, hunger, or thirst. The narrative for “Teahouse On The Tracks” where our traveling hero of the Kamakiraid story lands in dismal Flytown where he must decide whether to bail out or to rally and continue moving into the unknown. The film also stars Richard Pryor in an early role playing his signature "wino" character, and actor/director Robert Downey Sr. Future film director Wes Craven, then working at a New York City post-production company, made his professional feature debut as the film's editor. Howard Wright's Home Page/Howard's Steely Dan Chords and Tabs, That Grand Dan Sound: Why Everyone Knows Steely Dan When They Hear Them, Resonance Records Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins and Monty Alexander Giveaway, The Octave Remastered Series: Part 2: A Night At The Movies, Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings, Woodstock—Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience. This is a song with a tango sensibility. As usual, not enough of the story details are filled in to allow an accurate assessment of the plot and, indeed, Becker and Fagen's structure allows several vastly different interpretations to co-exist alongside one another. Louis is also a collector and sell of this atomic memorablila. 'A screamer' references a woman who makes a lot of noise during sex. "Peg" hits #11, "Deacon Blues" hits #19 and "Josie" hits #26 on the singles charts. or general analysis about moods or settings. Many people faked conditions to get them out of the military, including: Bruce Springsteen (faked drug abuse), Donald Trump (America's President had non-existant heel spurs that later disappeared), Ted Nugent (faked being insane while doing drugs), Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney (had fun in France), Muhammad Ali and many others. Fanny was a musician and singer, NYU is New York University. A dress so tight it defines all the curves, leaving little to the imagination. Barrytown is a town in upstate New York near Annendale, where Donald Fagen and Walter Becker went to school at Bard College. This references a statement from W.C. Fields, who liked to refer to Death as "the fellow in the bright nightgown. This line means that even though he's physically sitting in the kitchen, his mind is racing at full speed, being mentally anywhere other than where he physically is. It is most famous today as a Greenwich Village nightclub district. Daily News is a New York newspaper … in other words, jesting, don't believe all you read. George Weinberg (1901 – January 29, 1939) was a New York mobster and, with brother Abraham Weinberg, an associate of Dutch Schultz as a mob accountant during the 1920s and 1930s. According to Walter Becker, "The Last Mall" is about the disintegration of America, saying "When my kids got to a certain age they wanted to go to the mall every day. The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of elaborate theatrical revue productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 to 1931 at the Ziegfield Theater 1341 Sixth Avenue, corner of 54th Street in Manhattan, New York City. Becker, "I think what television and video games do is reminiscent of drug addiction. Junkies often pull their money to purchase heroin, kitty in this case is the pocket of the person purchasing the narcotics. 'Bastards' is a description used by Hunter Thompson, and drugs are what beat Becker and Fagen, though not Hunter Thompson, perhaps they're a bit jealous. The way she stopped cooking and started buying frozen dinners. "FM " is a song by American jazz-rock band Steely Dan, the title theme for the 1978 film FM. “On the Dunes” is the dour moment of Kamakiriad, about a heartbreak, a kind of homicide, as our hero stood and watched his happiness drift outwards with the tide. KLH was anAmerican manufacturer of a well regarded series of FM radios, speakers and turntables in the 1950s and 60s, and of course Coltrane is the jazz musician John Coltrane. A place where all things are rather dirty and out of sorts, yet with a perverted charm. Although the band make use of jazz harmony in their music, their songs still remain highly listenable and radio friendly, a feat that requires a lot of craft and attention to detail. My parents essentially bought the whole trip.”. Covering Action means that someone is covering or taking your bet. He wrote a paper on the topic in the early 1990's which caught the eye of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Steely Dan are a great band to learn from for more advanced chord types and chord progressions, as well as more interesting guitar parts and riffs. Often said after intercourse, referring to a man's penis as his third leg, where the sex was so good that by claiming that he may never walk again, means that he may never (jokingly) have intercourse again. The phrase is simply a paean to going out and having a good time. What we're actually saying is that I plan to find the time that he lived in.". Not a real person, though certainly a character that Becker and Fegan ran into often. The song refers to hip someone who is the Duke of the streets, a person who has all they want, or can certainly get any lady. Actually the phrase comes from the song "Big Boss Man (Hi-Heeld Sneakers) sung by Jimmy Reed in 1960 and written by his manager Al Smith along with Luther Dixon. A reference to Lou Reed's song "Walk On The Wild Side," meaning that it's time to be real, time to be sober. This paradoxical relationship between promising dreams and discouraging truths is brought out in the lyrics of the song. The question has always remained, is the 'two timer' someone who's cheating on the narrator, or is she a 'two time' because she's cheating with the narrator. Girl group, best known for their role as backing singers for Ray Charles (hence their name). When considering the previous line regarding 'fever of the chase', poppie can also refer to the Poppy flower, and thus heroine. Big thanks to Lilly for sharing this with me. I’m too busy.”He later said, “Yes, I inquired about joining Dylan’s band, but when I did, I was quite secure in my own endeavors. Long considered Steely Dan’s best and most intriguing album, “Aja” remained at No. The number was a landline telephone number. Savory is a jazz record label, and 'sides' are sides of records. This song was inspired by Owsley Stanley III, the first "underground" chemist to mass produce high-quality LSD in the 1960s in San Francisco. And then, several years later, Mr. Fagen finally admitted that "Chain Lightning" in their minds described a 'visit by two guys to a fascist rally.' Hollywood is not the city in California, but a reference to the famed nickname of Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson who played for the Dallas Cowboys in the late 70's and was banned from the NFL because of his drug use, hence referenced in the next line ... 'Jive' meaning 'deceitful or worthless' describes Miguel, to which Walter Becker says, "Jive Miguel from Bogotá is just a postage stamp’s worth of a personality or an idea." Capris, also known as "pedal pushers" or "clam diggers" originated in 1948 and were most popular during the late 50s and early 60s. He also appears to have committed patricide. | Year Released: 2004 Mowin' the lawn can mean having sexual intercourse, possibly referencing Fagen walking in on his parents in their small tract home and finding or hearing them engaged ... there are no secrets in tract homes. Gaucho's expensive delays can be blamed on drugs and musicians given as much time as possible to develop their new, possibly more profitable set of songs—but it was the terrible luck of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker that made the Gaucho story unique. Holiday resort town in Oklahoma built in 1908, Medicine Park was Oklahoma's first purpose-built tourist resort, and is named after nearby Medicine Creek, a body of water believed by the Kiowa and Comanche Indians to have healing powers. Steely Dan co-front Donald Fagen had met her while both were attending Bard College, a small liberal arts college located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Consequently, the songs for their second album are hurriedly recorded in between tour stops during 1973. Tectonic lithosphere plates consist of lithospheric mantle overlain by one or two types of crustal material: oceanic crust (in older texts called sima from silicon and magnesium) and continental crust (sial from silicon and aluminium). which describes the Whiteman's discomfiture when passed on the street by some underachieving hoodlum (you know who you are), but can conjure up any inner city street where a cruising car is a signal to take cover. 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