15 Comments (since 25 Aug 2015)
So… many 100s of years ago I was travelling very early every grey Monday morning from my then home in North Hampshire to an art college on the south coast where I would stay in lodgings for the week. I was - very kindly - being given a lift there by a church friend of my college roommate, who happened to live in the same town as us and also work where we went to college. Nice enough chap, but church-going has never been my scene.
The problem was that EVERY bloody Monday morning without fail he would play Steely Dan for the duration of the fairly lengthy drive, analysing the intricacies of their musicianship every mile of the way with my more muso-inclined college friend. At the time my musical tastes were, shall we say, somewhat more narrow than now - in the main confined to Simple Minds and a few English synth bands that I very soon grew out of.
I literally couldn't stand the thought of this 90 minute Danfest awaiting me every Monday morning, my spirits only lifting when we approached the motorway turnoff towards the coast. Their music just seemed so lacking in youth & spirit and was altogether too, well, MATURE for a teenage art student to bear.
When I eventually moved into shared digs near the college I was partly elated that Monday mornings would no longer be accompanied by Donald Fagen’s ‘acquired taste’ voice and seemingly endless instrumental solos...
...and then, something strange happened. Call it the musical equivalent of Stockholm syndrome, but a year or so later I started to dig on New Frontier (well, what's not to like?) and from there became a big fan of The Nightfly. Much more straightforward than all that Steely Dan noodling, I thought. Later that year I also heard and fell for Magic Smile by Rosie Vela (remember her?) - as produced by Fagen and Becker: a Steely Dan recording in all but name. What had happened to me?
Well it still took a few more years, but I properly fell under the spell after eventually being schooled in a proper degree in Dandom by my extremely well-musically-heeled work colleagues. Then one day I trotted down the road to Reckless Records in Soho, spied the Steely Dan box set (containing every recording prior to their latter day reformation) and snapped it up. Since then I've never looked back.
I never tire of listening to their endlessly revealing lyrics, clever arrangements and stunning musicianship, and to me, every single thing they've recorded sounds brilliant - and that's why they've been my favourite band over the last 20 years. And as all good Hip-Hop producers will tell you, the Dan have the dopest beats...
That is a lovely tale @stevefawcett. Don't knock the synth though! There's many an art school student who has fallen for the charms of electronica. ;-)
Fantastic story, Steve. Your penultimate entry there sums up Steely Dan for me as well, in a much more eloquent way than I could ever express. I know Steely Dan isn't for everyone, but I'm pleased there are people out there that share my fandom for them. I'll be playing this tune in a couple days.
@stevefawcett Steve, a bit the same with me but not so dramatic. A friend was rally into them in '70s and loaned me an album - I didn't like it at all and didn't listen to them again for years. Don't ask me why but now I could listen to them endlessly! Great jam!!
Always loved the early stuff can't buy a thrill countdown to ecstasy an all just starting to enjoy the later stuff. Cheers Steve.
@Fullam, @kfarrnd, @allymac, @psyclopstrees, thanks to you all for your comments. Always been nice to see the SD appreciation on TIMJ. My favourite Dan album? All of them. (Ok, the 2000's LPs less so, but they're still excellent additions to their body of work)
I think there's something so essentially 'grown-up' about their music (lyrically, philosophically and compositionally) that you can't really appreciate it properly until you've lived a bit, ie, past your teens. Or am I just being a pretentious prat?
Great work Steve good to see your #GoingDownJamming