7 Steely Dan Songs Every Fan Should Know
After a seemingly ridiculous two-year wait, jazz-rock troubadours Steely Dan will perform their Earth After Dark Tour at Dickies Arena on Thursday, June 2, featuring special guests Snarky Puppy. Previously announced opener Steve Winwood dropped out due to pandemic-related issues and scheduling conflicts.
Steely Dan enjoyed great success in the 1970s with hits such as ‘Reelin’ In the Years’, ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number’, ‘Peg’ and many more, with a rich catalog that spanned extends far beyond typical band radio. staples.
To celebrate Steely Dan’s return to DFW (finally!), here are seven essential Steely Dan deep cuts:
“Aja” from aja
Perhaps not a true “deep cut,” but certainly not a radio staple, the title track to Steely Dan’s 1977 masterpiece is their best non-hit. “Aja” is probably the culmination of the band’s entire career, not to mention one of the most accomplished musical sequels of the 1970s. Wayne Shorter, the song moves like the Santa Ana winds, carrying thoughts and feelings through the banyan trees, over the hills, through the clouds and back to the ranch dude. The lyrics remain a total mystery; whether “Aja” is a literal woman from Donald Fagen’s dreams or a depiction of tranquility – or even death – is yet to be answered. Eat Your Heart Out, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “Time Out of Mind” by Gaucho
Gaucho, the album that marked the end of Steely Dan’s formidable run in the 70s, is a glossy anthology of the disgusting splendors of Los Angeles: criminal basketball players, aging hipsters preying on younger women and, of course, incredibly terrible drugs. The song embodies all the excitement and anticipation of diving into this horrible world without the slightest worry. It’s probably the closest Steely Dan has come to a disco song. Replace the dragon chase with a bachelor party or a bar mitzvah and you’ve practically got the family’s next favorite song. Not to mention Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler plays guitar like a masseuse – always in the right place. “Chain of Lightning” from Katy lied
While a majority of Steely Dan’s work can be described as “cool”, there’s almost nothing cooler in their discography than this deep cut from 1975 with a bluesy shuffle and the buttery harmonies of Michael McDonald. singing “Hush bro, we’re going through the square, act natural, like you don’t care. Add to that the fact that future drum god Toto, Jeff Porcaro, is laying down that groove when suddenly Rick Derringer rushes in on guitar out of nowhere and plays a solo with the subtle badassery of Frank Bullitt buckling his seatbelt Whether or not the song is about a Nazi rally, as they say on the internet, is beyond us, but “Chain Lightning” is too cool to worry about being distorted online. “King of the World” from Countdown to ecstasy
Steely Dan’s music usually (to say the least) features shady characters in compromised or compromising situations, but their protagonists are rarely alone. The last unleashed track from their second album Countdown to ecstasy is a post-apocalyptic distress call from perhaps the last man on Earth, begging anyone who might be out there to answer him, saying “Show me where you are; you and I will spend this day driving in my car, through the ruins of Santa Fe… Any man that stays on the Rio Grande is king of the world as far as I know.
“Haitian Divorce” by Tthe royal scam
Steely Dan goes reggae! “Haitian Divorce” epitomizes Steely Dan’s talent for hypodermic lyrical jiu-jitsu. While yes, the song is obviously about a divorce, a closer look at its elements reveals the true soap opera absurdity at play. A bossy father, a runaway bride, and a hazy night of bad decisions in a foreign land fueled by a low-key reggae groove with a sex scene via talkbox guitar solo, and you get a stranger baby, an awkward family reunion, and one of Steely Dan’s most twisted sitcoms. “Pretzel Logic” by pretzel logic
A time travel diary? An indictment against the misfortunes of the tours? An erotic blues shuffle? Yes please! The title track from Steely Dan’s third LP finds the band on the precipice of normalcy, peering into the rich valley of studio magic. Walter Becker, so far mainly a bassist, goes wild with a flurry of confetti-like guitars, as Dan’s lead duo is rounded out by a small army of session musicians, including Jim Gordon on drums and the future Eagle Timothy B. Schmidt on backing vocals. “Reelin’ in the Years (Live)” by Living in America
While the beloved studio rendition originally found on Countdown to ecstasy hides its bitter lyricism behind some of the most jovial guitar work this side of Led Zeppelin, this 1995 live rearrangement with a truly jaw-dropping groove courtesy of drummer Dennis Chambers takes the song’s disparate moods and unites them into a new feeling. : a bittersweet anguish towards those shaky years and that eternal summer that quickly faded. Hearing a trio of saxophones nail the song’s glorious guitar turnaround is creepy, and the new guitar solos from Drew Zingg and Georg Wadenius are certainly no slouch either.