Steely Dan

Steely Dan is an American jazz-rock band centered on core members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. The band reached a peak of popularity in the late 1970s, with the release of seven albums blending elements of jazz, rock, funk, R&B, and pop. Rolling Stone magazine has called them "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies."


The band's music is characterized by complex jazz-influenced structures and harmonies played by Becker and Fagen along with a revolving cast of rock and pop studio musicians. Steely Dan's "cerebral, wry and eccentric" lyrics, often filled with sharp sarcasm, touch upon such themes as drugs, crime, and their true-to-life "contempt of west coast hippies." The pair are well-known for their near-obsessive perfectionism in the recording studio, with one notable example being that Becker and Fagen used at least 42 different studio musicians, 11 engineers, and took over a year to record the tracks that resulted in 1980's Gaucho ??? an album that contains only seven songs.


Steely Dan toured from 1972 to 1974, but in 1975 became a purely studio-based act. The late 1970s saw the group release a series of extremely successful singles and albums. They disbanded in 1981, and throughout most of the next decade, Fagen and Becker remained largely inactive in the music world. During this time, the group steadily built and maintained "a cult following." In 1993, the group resumed playing live concerts; the early 21st century saw Steely Dan release two albums of new material, the first of which earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. They have sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and in March 2001, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


History


Early years

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker met at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in 1967. Fagen was passing by a cafe called The Red Balloon when he heard Becker rehearsing the electric guitar. He would later recount the experience during an interview: "I hear this guy practicing, and it sounded very professional and contemporary. It sounded like, you know, like a black person, really." He immediately introduced himself to Becker, and asked him "Do you want to be in a band?" They quickly realized that they enjoyed similar music, and even listened to the same jazz radio stations; not long after, they began writing songs together.


The two soon began playing in local groups. One of these bands, first known as The Bad Rock Group and later as The Leather Canary, included future comedy star Chevy Chase on drums. They played covers of songs written by The Rolling Stones ("Dandelion"), Moby Grape ("Hey Grandma"), and Willie Dixon ("Spoonful") along with a handful of originals. Terence Boylan, another Bard musician, remembered that Fagen immediately took to the Beatnik lifestyle while attending college: "They never came out of their room, they stayed up all night. They looked like ghosts ??? black turtlenecks and skin so white that it looked like yogurt. Absolutely no activity, chain-smoking Lucky Strikes and dope." Fagen himself would later remember it as "probably the only time in my life that I actually had friends."


After Fagen graduated in 1969, the two moved to Brooklyn and tried to peddle their tunes in the Brill Building in midtown Manhattan. Kenny Vance, a member of the pop group Jay and the Americans, who had a production office in the building, took an interest in their material that led to work on the soundtrack of the low-budget Richard Pryor film You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat in 1971. Becker later spoke bluntly of the soundtrack: "We did it for the money." A series of demos made between about 1968 and 1971 are available in bootleg form. This collection features approximately twenty-five tracks, and is notable for the stripped down production and decidedly lo-fi nature of these tracks (many songs are just Fagen and his piano) is contrary to many other Steely Dan works. In addition, although some of these songs ("Caves of Altamira," "Brooklyn," "Barrytown") re-recorded for Steely Dan albums, the majority of them were never officially released.


Becker and Fagen joined the touring band of Jay and the Americans for roughly a year and a half. They were at first paid $100 per show, but partway through their tenure the band's tour manager cut their salaries in half. The group's lead singer, Jay Black, dubbed Becker and Fagen "the Manson and Starkweather of rock 'n' roll," referring to cult leader Charles Manson and spree killer Charles Starkweather.


They had little immediate success after the move to Brooklyn, although Barbra Streisand recorded their song "I Mean To Shine" on her 1971 Barbra Joan Streisand album. Little other significant headway was made by the pair until one of Vance's cronies, Gary Katz, moved to Los Angeles to become a staff producer for ABC Records. He hired Becker and Fagen as staff songwriters and they flew to California. Katz would produce all their 1970s albums with a collaboration with engineer Roger Nichols.


After realizing their songs were too complex for other ABC artists, at Katz's suggestion they formed their own band with guitarists Denny Dias and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, drummer Jim Hodder and singer David Palmer, and Katz signed the band to ABC as recording artists. Being fans of Beat Generation literature, Fagen and Becker named the band after "Steely Dan III from Yokohama," a strap-on dildo referred to in the William Burroughs novel The Naked Lunch. The addition of Palmer as a second lead vocalist was due to a combination of Fagen's resistance to singing in front of an audience and the label's feeling that his voice was not "commercial" enough. Fagen lacked confidence in his voice and was known to have suffered from occasional bouts of stage fright.


In 1972, ABC sent out promotional copies of Steely Dan's first single, "Dallas," backed with "Sail the Waterway." It is unclear if "stock" copies were ever released to the general public, and if they were, the single sold so poorly that promotional copies are more abundant today (whereas the reverse is true for most releases). The two songs were re-released on vinyl a handful of times as b-sides and on EPs throughout the 1970s and 1980s; as of 2009, "Dallas" and "Sail the Waterway" remain the only officially released Steely Dan tracks to have not been reissued on cassette or compact disc. Becker and Fagen would tell an interviewer in 1995 that the songs hadn't been reissued because they felt the tracks were "stinko."


Can't Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstasy

Their debut album, Can't Buy a Thrill, was released in 1972 and made an immediate impression with the hit singles "Do It Again" and "Reelin' In the Years," reaching #6 and #11 respectively on the Billboard singles chart. Those and the Palmer-sung "Dirty Work" eventually became staples on classic rock radio. "Reelin' In the Years" also features an acclaimed guitar solo by Elliott Randall.


Because of Fagen's reluctance to sing live, David Palmer handled most of the vocal duties on stage. During the first tour, it became apparent to Katz and Becker that Palmer's interpretation of the material wasn't having the same impact, and eventually convinced Fagen that he was the one who best conveyed the attitude and meaning of the songs. Palmer quietly left the group during the recording of the second album, soon hooking up with Carole King, with whom he wrote the 1974 #2 hit, "Jazzman."


The lineup of Can't Buy a Thrill and its follow up, Countdown to Ecstasy, was very band oriented. Denny Dias handled the rhythm guitar as well as the famous electric sitar solo on "Do It Again," and Jeff Baxter handled lead guitar duties. Jim Hodder played drums as well as singing on one track, "Midnite Cruiser." As for Becker and Fagen themselves, Becker played bass and sang some sparse backup vocals while his partner Fagen played all keyboards (piano, electric piano, organ) and sang lead on every track but three.


Countdown to Ecstasy, released in 1973, failed to match the level of commercial success of the first album (probably to the surprise of few, as it was much more jazz/blues oriented than its predecessor). Becker and Fagen blamed this on having to rush-record the album between tour dates and they weren't entirely happy with some of the performances on the record. The album's singles included "Show Biz Kids" (curiously chosen for release as a hopeful hit) and "My Old School," both considered "classic" Steely Dan by fans and critics alike, but failing to make any significant impact on the charts. However, "My Old School" (and, to a lesser extent, "Bodhisattva") did become a minor FM Rock staple as years passed, and remains so to this day. "Bodhisattva" was also notable as the only readily available live recording of Steely Dan for many years (as the B-side of the 1980 single "Hey Nineteen").


Pretzel Logic and Katy Lied

Steely Dan returned to prominence with their third LP Pretzel Logic in early 1974, a diverse set that produced another hit single, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number", a US Top Ten hit (#4 on the Billboard chart) which became yet another enduring AM rock radio staple. It is also notable as the only Steely Dan album to contain a song by another composer???their note-for-note transcription of Duke Ellington's and Bubber Miley's "East St Louis Toodle-oo". This song also holds other importance as the only instrumental ever done by Steely Dan, the only Steely Dan song to feature a banjo, and the only song on which Donald Fagen is credited with playing the saxophone (he also plays the piano solo). Album cuts "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" and the title track would go on to be fan favorites.


During the tour for the previous album, the band had added Sonny & Cher's young session drummer Jeff Porcaro (later a member of Toto) and also added vocalist-percussionist Royce Jones and vocalist-keyboardist Michael McDonald. Porcaro and McDonald would become prominent on this and future Steely Dan recordings and would illustrate the duo's increasing reliance on session musicians. For example, "Parker's Band" features both Jim Gordon and Jeff Porcaro playing drums, and both styles can easily be distinguished by panning between the left and right stereo channels on the album. This album also marks the first time Walter Becker would play guitar (6 string electric guitar) on a Steely Dan album.


A rift between Becker-Fagen and the other members of the group (particularly Baxter and Hodder) began to develop when the latter two seemed more intent on touring. Becker and Fagen disliked touring and wanted to withdraw from the road to concentrate solely on writing and recording. The other members also felt discouraged by their diminishing roles in the studio and gradually left the group, although Dias stayed on for some Aja tracks and McDonald continued to contribute vocals up to the 1980 Gaucho; Baxter left to join The Doobie Brothers, where he was later joined by McDonald. The band retired from touring after a July 4, 1974 concert at the Santa Monica Civic Center in California. A recording of the show's opening track, "Bodhisattva", would later be released as a B-side.


The 1975 LP Katy Lied saw the duo using a diverse group of session players, including Porcaro and McDonald, as well as guitarist Elliott Randall, jazz saxophonist Phil Woods, saxophonist/bass-guitarist Wilton Felder, percussionist-vibraphonist Victor Feldman, keyboardist (and later producer) Michael Omartian and guitarist Larry Carlton, with only Dias remaining from the original group. The album went gold on the strength of the songs "Black Friday" and "Bad Sneakers", but Becker and Fagen were so dissatisfied with the sound of the album (caused by a faulty DBX noise reduction system) that they publicly apologized for it (on the album's back cover), and for years refused to even listen to it in its final form. Often considered a "transitional album," it also included such gems as "Doctor Wu" (which also got minor FM airplay for many years) and "Chain Lightning".


The Royal Scam and Aja

The Royal Scam was released in May 1976 on ABC Records and is the group's most guitar-oriented record, in part due to Carlton's contributions, and it also features session drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. Like Katy Lied, it sold well without the strength of a real hit single, although "Kid Charlemagne" and "The Fez" (in which keyboardist Paul Griffin earned a rare co-writing credit) would become two fan favorites. Also popular in Dan circles as well as at modern Steely Dan shows are the hard rocking "Don't Take Me Alive", the shuffling "Sign in Stranger", and the ethereal "Caves of Altamira." "Haitian Divorce" became a surprise minor hit in the UK.


Their sixth LP, the jazz-influenced Aja saw Becker and Fagen using the services of top-notch jazz-rock musicians including Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Wayne Shorter, Chuck Rainey and Bernard Purdie. Aja won several awards, shot into the Top Five in the U.S. charts within three weeks of release, and was one of the first American LPs to be certified 'platinum' for sales of over 1 million albums. The first single off the album was "Peg," which featured Michael McDonald's backing vocals and peaked at US #11. Other singles included "Deacon Blues" (#19) and "Josie" (#26). The album cemented the duo's reputation as songwriters, as well as their reputation for studio perfectionism. The story of the making of the album has been documented in an episode of the popular TV and DVD series, Classic Albums. The album features such jazz and fusion luminaries as saxophonists Wayne Shorter, Pete Christlieb and Tom Scott, drummer Steve Gadd and ex-Miles Davis pianist/vibist Victor Feldman. It also featured Becker's trademark clean, jazzy guitar leads as a prominent solo voice where they had only appeared sporadically in prior releases.


Soon after the success of Aja, Becker and Fagen were asked to contribute the title track for the movie FM. The movie was one of the year's worst box-office disasters but the song was another hit, barely missing out on the Top 20 in the US and was another minor hit in the UK. The group still performs it today.


Gaucho and breakup

Becker and Fagen took most of 1978 off before beginning to write songs for the follow-up to Aja. The project would become plagued by technical, legal, and personal problems and ultimately cost them their partnership for many years.


In March 1979, ABC was bought by MCA Records, and for most of the next two years they were caught in contractual problems that prevented them from releasing the album. Becker and Fagen had planned on leaving ABC for Warner Bros. Records and wanted to release the next album on it, but MCA claimed ownership of the material, blocking Fagen and Becker from putting it out on any other label.


The first track completed for the album was "The Second Arrangement." The song was a favorite of producer Gary Katz and engineer Roger Nichols. In late December 1979, after weeks of working on a particular recording of the track, approximately 3/4 of the song was accidentally erased by an assistant engineer who was performing maintenance on the studio's tape machines. It was Nichols who broke the bad news to the band; Fagen walked out of the studio without saying a word when he was told about the song. Attempting to re-record "The Second Arrangement" proved to be too discouraging, and the song was eventually abandoned. However, a handful of demo and outtake recordings of the song exist in bootleg form.


Becker was also having personal difficulties. His girlfriend at the time, Karen Stanley, died of a drug overdose in their shared Upper West Side Apartment. Becker was hit with a $17 million wrongful death suit, later settled out of court in his favor, but he was shocked by the accusations and the tabloid press coverage that followed. His own substance abuse problems made matters worse. Not long after, Becker was struck by a taxi while attempting to cross a Manhattan street, shattering his right leg in several places and forcing him to use crutches. His sense of humor was evident in his statement to Rolling Stone magazine that he and the taxi were in breach of the laws of quantum physics, trying to occupy the same space at the same time.


Another lawsuit dogged the band, this time regarding the title track for the album. Jazz composer Keith Jarrett claimed that the song had been based on one of his own compositions, entitled "Long As You Know You're Living Yours". Fagen later admitted he'd loved the song and was strongly influenced by it. Jarrett sued for copyright infringement and eventually settled for a sum of approximately one million dollars, the deal stipulating that Becker and Fagen keep the songwriting credit. Fagen later told the press that maintaining their reputations as songwriters was an important factor in the decision to settle for such a substantial sum. Gaucho was finally released in November 1980 and, despite the problems that had gone into recording the album, it was another major success. The first single, "Hey Nineteen", peaked at #10 on the pop chart in early 1981, and "Time Out of Mind" (featuring Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits on guitar) became a moderate hit in the spring. "My Rival" was featured in John Huston's 1980 Film Phobia. The album subsequently received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.


Time off

Becker and Fagen announced the hiatus of their partnership in June 1981. Becker subsequently moved to the Hawaiian island of Maui with his family where he became an "avocado rancher and self styled critic of the contemporary scene." Becker also stopped using narcotics around this period, a problem he had been struggling with throughout most of Steely Dan's original run. Fagen released his 1982 solo album The Nightfly, which went platinum in both the U.S. and the U.K. and yielded the Top Twenty hit, "I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year)."


The two tried writing together again in the mid-1980s but were unhappy with the results. Fagen later contributed both the score and a song to the soundtrack of Bright Lights, Big City but generally did little or no music writing or recording for several years. He occasionally did production work for other artists, as did Becker; one notable credit was British group China Crisis, who were strongly influenced by Steely Dan.


Reunion (1993 - present)

Fagen and Becker took the first steps toward reconciliation in 1986, when Gary Katz oversaw the production of Zazu, an album by the former model Rosie Vela. Both Becker and Fagen are featured on that album, and it is believed to be the first time they performed together since the breakup. On , 1991, Becker attended a concert of the New York Rock and Soul Revue, co-founded by Fagen and producer/singer Libby Titus (who was for many years the partner of Levon Helm of The Band and would later become Fagen's wife). 1993 saw Becker's production of Fagen's second solo album Kamakiriad. Fagen later said it was the most satisfying recording experience of his career. Returning the favour, Fagen co-produced Becker's solo album 11 Tracks of Whack in 1994.


During the same year, MCA released Citizen Steely Dan, a boxed set featuring their entire catalog on 4 CDs, plus 4 extra tracks: "Here at the Western World" (originally released on 1978's "Greatest Hits"), "FM" (1978 single), a 1971 demo of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies" and "Bodhisattva (live)", the latter recorded on a cassette in 1974 and released as a B-side in 1980.


Alive in America (1993???1994)

These events finally led to a reformation, and the mounting of a U.S. tour in 1993 to support Fagen's album (which sold poorly, even though the concerts were extremely well-reviewed). With Becker now mainly playing lead and rhythm guitar, they put together a band that included an additional keyboard player and lead guitarist, a bassist, three female backing singers, and a four-piece horn section. During this tour, Fagen introduced himself as "Rick Strauss" and Becker as "Frank Poulenc". They toured to great acclaim during 1993-96, performing mainly songs from the later Steely Dan albums plus a selection of re-arranged Dan classics, and they released a live CD compiled from recordings of several 1993 and 1994 concerts, Alive in America in 1995.


Two Against Nature (2000)

In 2000, they released their first studio album in twenty years, Two Against Nature. It was not only a return to form but proved to be one of the surprise successes of the year, and in February 2001, it earned them four Grammy Awards. They won in the categories for Best Engineered Album - Non-Classical, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal ("Cousin Dupree"), and Album of the Year. Their win for Album of the Year came as a shock as they defeated Eminem and his highly controversial album The Marshall Mathers LP. In March 2001, Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the summer of 2000, they took to the road for another US tour followed by an international tour later that year. A DVD was also released under the same title, which is essentially a live-in-the-studio concert performance of popular tunes from throughout Steely Dan's career.


Everything Must Go (2003)

In 2003 Steely Dan released another album, Everything Must Go, and toured America thereafter. Becker and Fagen went for a looser approach in the studio and attempted to capture a more live feel. Walter Becker contributed his first lead vocal on a Steely Dan studio album on the song "Slang of Ages" (he had sung lead on his own "Book of Liars," on Alive in America). Also, it is the first Steely Dan album since 1973 to feature the same drummer (Keith Carlock) on every track; Jim Hodder was the sole drummer on 1972's Can't Buy a Thrill and 1973's Countdown to Ecstasy. This album also showed a return to form for Becker and Fagen's playing: Becker plays bass and lead guitar on every track while Fagen adds piano, electric piano, organ, synthesizers, and percussion on top of his vocals.


Steelyard "Sugartooth" McDan and The Fab-Originees.com Tour (2006)

The band embarked on a 33-date tour in the summer of 2006, a tour that followed Donald Fagen's tour in spring of 2006 in support of his first solo album in 13 years, Morph the Cat. Also featured on the bill was former collaborator Michael McDonald and his band. McDonald also sat in with Steely Dan during their encore, taking lead vocals on a jazzy version of "Do It Again" and filling out the band further on keyboards. The name of the tour is an homage to the fictional "inventor of the blues" presumably created by Becker and Fagen. The website, Fab-Originees.com, was simply a mirror of SteelyDan.com.


Heavy Rollers Tour (2007)

The band's Heavy Rollers Tour began May 5, 2007, at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, TN. The tour included North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, making it both the largest and most exhaustive Steely Dan tour ever. The tour took its name from lyrics in the song "Gaucho" ("We've got heavy rollers, I think you should know") from the album of the same name.


Think Fast (2008)

In early March 2008, Steely Dan announced on their website that they would be playing the Montreal Jazz Festival in July. This was then revised into a full summer tour, named Think Fast. Dates were selected mostly in the United States, with a few concerts in Canada.


Left Bank Holiday and Rent Party (2009)

In early March 2009, Steely Dan announced they will be performing live in the summer of 2009. The segments of the tour that have been announced on the website are for European dates only, but the site also states that more dates are to be announced. In early April, it was announced that the Left Bank Holiday European tour would be accompanied by the United States Rent Party tour. The Rent Party Tour '09 features special shows in New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, in which the band will play one of their classic albums in their entirety at each show as well as a selection of favorites. Joining the band for six selected dates of the tour in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago is jazz guitarist (and onetime Steely Dan session musician) Larry Carlton.


Musical and lyrical style


The neutrality of this section is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (December 2007)

Steely Dan's enigmatic, sardonically humorous and topical lyrics add to the appeal of the songs. Although Becker and Fagen might have at first owed a certain lyrical debt to Bob Dylan, they rapidly developed a distinctive style and have since become one of the most accomplished and respected songwriting teams of their age.


Music
Overall sound

Special attention was given to the individual sound of each instrument. The recording was done with the utmost fidelity and attention to sonic detail, and mixed so that all the instruments are heard and none are given undue priority (a deft and accomplished use of the multi-tracking process). For example, in the song "Parker's Band", two drum kits are used, which gives the song an unexpected drive, without overpowering the sound; it is not even immediately apparent that there are two drum kits on the track. Their albums are also notable for the characteristically 'warm' and 'dry' production sound, and the sparing use of echo and reverberation ??? effects which were often heavily over-used on other rock recordings of this period. Long known as perfectionists, they often recorded take after take before selecting the player or performance that made the final cut on their albums.


Backing vocals

Becker and Fagen favor a distinctly soul-influenced style of backing vocal, which after the first few albums were almost always performed by a female chorus (although Michael McDonald features prominently on several tracks, including the 1975 song "Black Friday" and the 1977 song "Peg"). Venetta Fields, Sherlie Matthews and Clydie King were the preferred trio for backing vocals on the group's late 70's albums.

Other backing vocalists include Tawatha Agee, Carolyn Leonhart, Janice Pendarvis, Catherine Russell, Cynthia Calhoun, Victoria Cave, Cindy Mizelle, and Jeff Young.


Horns

Horn arrangements have been used on songs from all Steely Dan albums. They are usually jazz-oriented, and typically feature instruments such as trumpets, trombones and saxophones, although they have also used other instruments such as flutes and clarinets. The horn parts occasionally integrate simple synth lines to alter the tone quality of individual horn lines, for example in "Deacon Blues" this was done to "thicken" one of the saxophone lines. On the earlier albums Steely Dan featured guest arrangers. However, from Kamakiriad and on the arrangement work is credited to Fagen.


Use of unusual harmonies and chord sequences

Steely Dan are famous for their use of chord sequences and harmonies that explore the area of musical tension between traditional pop music sounds and jazz. To conventional rock listeners, this sometimes seemed to be avant-garde music. In particular, they are known for their use of the mu major chord, often simply known to rock musicians as the "Steely Dan chord". Other staples of the Steely Dan "Chord Dictionary" include so-called slash chords, for example B?/C or E/A. A slash chord shows a triad with or without extensions (shown to the left of the slash) with a different note in the bass (shown to the right of the slash).


Lyrics
This section may contain original research or unverified claims. Please improve the article by adding references. See the talk page for details. (March 2008)

Steely Dan's songs cover a wide range of topics, but in their basic approach they often create fictional personas that narrate the experience. The duo have said that in retrospect, most of their albums have a 'feel' of either Los Angeles or New York City, the two main bases where Becker and Fagen lived and operated (see below). Characters appear in their songs that evoke these cities. Themes of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll appear, but never in a straightforward manner, neither encouraging nor discouraging, and many (if not all) of their songs are tinged with an ironic edge.


Additionally, many would argue that Steely Dan never wrote a real love song. However, some of the demo-era recordings show Fagen and Becker at their most romantic. Such songs include "This Seat's Been Taken", "Oh, Wow, It's You", "Come Back Baby", and "Rikki Don't Lose That Number". Other themes are also present, such as prejudice, aging, failure, poverty and middle-class ennui, but these are typically seen from an ironic and detached perspective. Many of their songs concern love, but none can be classed as straightforward love songs, since there is inevitably an ironic or disturbing twist in the lyrics. One may think the song is about love on first inspection, however, upon deeper analysis the listener realizes that the real story is about rape, prostitution, incest ("Cousin Dupree"), or some other socially unacceptable subject.


Steely Dan's lyrics contain subtle and encoded references, unusual (and sometimes original) slang expressions, a wide variety of "word games" and intriguing lyrical choices and constructions of considerable depth. The obscure and sometimes teasing lyrics have given rise to considerable efforts by fans to explain the "inner meaning" of certain songs. Jazz is a recurring theme, with references abounding in their songs, and there are numerous other film, television and literary references and allusions, such as "Home at Last" (from Aja), which was inspired by The Odyssey.


Some of their lyrics are notable for their unusual meter patterns; a prime example of this is their 1972 hit "Reelin' In the Years", which crams an unusually large number of words into each line, giving it a highly syncopated quality.


"Name-checking" is another Steely Dan lyrical device; references to real places and people abound in their songs. The song "My Old School" is a well-known example, referring to Annandale (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York is the location of Bard College, which both attended and where they met), and the Two Against Nature album (2000) contains numerous references to the duo's original home region, the New York metro area, including the district of Gramercy Park, The Strand bookstore and well-known upmarket food business Dean & DeLuca.


The band also often name-checks drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, in their songs: rum and cokes ("Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More"), pi?ħa coladas ("Bad Sneakers"), zombies ("Haitian Divorce"), black cows ("Black Cow"), Scotch whisky ("Deacon Blues"), retsina ("Home at Last"), grapefruit wine ("FM"), cherry wine ("Time Out of Mind"), Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila ("Hey Nineteen") and kirschwasser ("Babylon Sisters") are all mentioned in Steely Dan lyrics.


This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article Steely Dan; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.

Original Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steely Dan