Steely Dan and Disco

Thursday, July 20th 2017

It's safe to say that I've always been aware of Steely Dan. Reelin' in the Years is probably the first song I ever remember hearing from my childhood, and I always associate that song with the old photo of me as a toddler sitting on on a mustard-colored carpet wearing red corduroy overalls, grey headphones, and a huge grin.

About 3 weeks ago, I found myself listening to some tracks from the Steely Dan greatest hits album. Reelin' in the Years, Peg, Hey Nineteen, Deacon Blues, Things I Miss The Most. And one after another, I got these songs stuck in my head for days. Each. In turn. I've listened to almost nothing else for the past 3 weeks or so, and when I wasn't listening, the songs were running through my head. The Cuervo gold, the fine Columbian, make tonight a wonderful thing... Boy... lots of their songs are about drinking. Drink scotch whisky all night long, and die behind the wheel...

Just this week, I went back and started exploring their back catalog. It's easy to do in an age with subscription music. I can ask Alexa to play pretty much anything I can think of. Initially, I had figured that similarly to so many other artists I've enjoyed, I'd check out the back catalog and enjoy maybe 15% of the songs. I was astounded to find that nearly all of their songs are really good. I can't help but think of Paul Rudd's character in This is 40 raving about Steely Dan's genius. Generally, I don't start really liking a song until I've listened to the album 3-4 times. I pretty much never hear a song for the first time and think it's amazing. Here, I found many where I listen once and immediately love it. The Fez was so good that the first time I ever heard it, I had to listen twice. You're never gonna do it without your fez on! The song is inescapably disco; I suppose I'm open to it because I've been softened up by Daft Punk and Chromeo.

Speaking of Disco, I also stumbled upon the tune Hold On, by Santana. Good stuff.

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