‘Steely Dan’

This is no one night stand
it’s a real occasion
Close your eyes and you’ll be there
it’s everything they say
the end of a perfect day
Distant lights from across the bay…

  • Singer/songwriters: Donald Fagen/Walter Becker aka Steely Dan


SPEAKING of rock and roll concerts, suddenly a certain group of musicians, a rock and roll band, came to mind.

What makes this particular rock and roll band stand out is the fact that it was named after a dildo.

And what is a dildo?

A dildo is a sex toy, often explicitly phallic in appearance, intended for sexual penetration or other sexual activity during masturbation or with sex partners. From that free online encyclopedia a.k.a. the internet:

Steely Dan is an American rock band founded in 1972 by core members Walter Becker (guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Donald Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals). Blending rock, jazz, traditional pop, R&B, 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.

Throughout their career, the duo recorded with a revolving cast of session musicians, and in 1974 retired from live performances to become a studio-only band. Rolling Stone has called them “the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies.”

Fagen and Becker named the band “Steely Dan” after a “revolutionary” steam-powered dildo mentioned in the William S. Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch.

Oh my quite kinky…

The band officially disbanded in 1981. But although both Donald Fagen and Walter Becker remained inactive throughout the next decades, a cult following keep their music alive.

They reunited in 1993 and “Steely Dan” toured steadily and released two more albums, one of which, “Two Against Nature”, earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

The other half and founding member Walter Becker died on Sept. 3, 2017.

Steely Dan’s lyrical subjects are diverse, but in their basic approach they often create fictional personae that participate in a narrative or situation. 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 cities where Becker and Fagen lived and worked. Characters appear in their songs that evoke these cities. Steely Dan’s lyrics are often puzzling to the listener, with the true meaning of the song “uncoded” through repeated listening, and a richer understanding of the references within the lyrics. 

Thematically, Steely Dan creates a universe peopled by losers, creeps and failed dreamers, often victims of their own obsessions and delusions.

Many would argue that Steely Dan never wrote a genuine love song, instead dealing with personal passion in the guise of a destructive obsession.

Many of their songs concern love, but typical of Steely Dan songs is an ironic or disturbing twist in the lyrics that reveals a darker reality. 

Steely Dan’s lyrics contain subtle and encoded references, unusual (and sometimes original) slang expressions, and a wide variety of “word games.” The obscure and sometimes teasing lyrics have given rise to considerable efforts by fans to explain the “inner meaning” of certain songs. Jazz is always a recurring theme.

For a trendy millennial with no musical progression listening to the music of “Steely Dan” is not highly recommended as you would just get lost in translation just stick to the garbage you’re listening to and leave the real music to adults.

From an article on www.rollingstone.com:

It wouldn’t bother me at all, Steely Dan’s Walter Becker told Rolling Stone’s Cameron Crowe in 1977, “not to play on my own album.” He was stating a fact – Steely Dan famously staffed their sessions with the finest studio musicians they could find – but he was also summing up the weird oblique approach to rock-stardom shared by him and his longtime songwriting partner Donald Fagen. From their earliest days as jazz-loving Bard College hipsters to their heyday as wry sophisto-pop aesthetes, the pair were always the strangest kind of hit makers, cramming their tunes full of as many brainy chords, obscure references and off-color characterizations as possible. Yet, against all odds, they still carved out their own proud niche in the classic-rock canon.

Perhaps we should all know by now that it’s just spasm, so there. ([email protected]/PN)


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