Sunday, July 1, 2007

Music Memories: Aja By Steely Dan

During the height of the disco era, one of my older brothers purchased the album that served as my introduction to Steely Dan... "Aja". I was hooked from the beginning and have remained a fan ever since. When it comes to melding jazz and rock, it doesn't get much better than "Aja".

Something that really stood out to me when 1st hearing "Aja" were the lyrics. However, with songs that referred to "drinking scotch whiskey all night long" (Deacon Blues) and spotting someone "high at Rudy's" (Black Cow), it's doubtful that Donald Fagen and Walter Becker had an 11 yr old kid in mind when they were writing the songs that made up "Aja".

Since the lyrics were included with the LP, it also allowed me to sing along to my favorite tracks. Because my voice hadn't changed yet, I could actually hit some of those higher notes just like the background singers. Another thing that struck me was the distinctive voice of lead singer Donald Fagen, which is perfect for the songs of Steely Dan. Although he isn't what one would call a technically good singer, that's part of his appeal.

One of my regrets is that I have never seen Steely Dan in concert. A friend of mine has seen them a few times and said that in addition to their hits, they also perform many album cuts (such as the title track to "Aja"). About a month or so after buying tickets to see The Police, I found out that Steely Dan would be in the area this summer as well. Since I wasn't up for going without food for a week, I decided to take a pass on getting Steely Dan tickets. Oh well, hopefully I can catch them live somewhere down the line. Until then, I've got CDs such as "Aja" to keep me entertained.


pjazzypar said...

Yeah Steely Dan is pretty cool. I actually got a chance to catch them in concert about a year ago in Phoenix. It was a treat for sure. The first album I purchased after buying my first nice stereo system (Sansui) was a copy of their greatest hits. It was very enjoyable; however it did not contain Josie or FM.

Later around 1980 they surfaced with Gaucho, which contained the big crossover hit "Hey Nineteen". The classic line in the song still resonates with me, "Hey nineteen that's Retha Franklin. She don't remember the Queen of Soul". It spoke to the generation gap, how style and individual taste in music can vary drastically from person to person.

Anyhow, I enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Good job as always of introducing content that invokes emotion, as well as thought.


Malcolm said...

Hi pjazzypar: Thanks for the kind words about my posts. The "Aja" post was one of the harder ones for me to write. I went through quite a few drafts on that one.

Wow...lucky you catching "The Dan" in concert! I think I might have had the same greatest hits collection you are talking about. When I sold most of my cassettes, I didn't replace it with the CD version. Instead, I splurged and bought the 4 CD set "Citizen Steely Dan". It was well worth it!

Hey Nineteen is definitely near the top of my all-time Steely Dan list. I love the line "The Cuervo Gold The fine Columbian Make tonight a wonderful thing".

Lori said...

Hey Malcolm,
Now I know you are my kind of peeps (smile). My spouse and I love Steely Dan, a fact which never fails to puzzle a lot of our African American friends and relatives.

Anyway, back in February (Feb. 22, "Dancing To The Beat of A Different Drummer) I posted about my purchase of Steely Dan's Definitive Collection. How can you NOT love songs like "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "FM" "Do It Again" "Reelin In the Years" and "Deacon Blues" to name a few.

I only wish the collection I purchased had come with the lyrics as well if only to keep my husband from insisting that I'm singing the songs all wrong (smile).

Malcolm: said...

Hi Lori,

Thanks for stopping by. You can hardly go wrong with Steely Dan. Some of my other favorite songs by them are "Glamour Profession", "The Royal Scam", and "Here At the Western World".

I am puzzled by the fact that your Afr Amer friends and family are puzzled by you and your husband's love for Steely Dan. I always felt that they were a white band that cut across racial lines.

You should consider going to a lyrics database online to get the words to Steely Dan songs. That would help settle the debates between you and your husband, lol.

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