The Onion skewers The Dan
November 19, 2008 Leave a comment
It goes without saying that The Onion dominates the universe, but given the ubiquity of their hilarious political “coverage” it’s easy to miss some of the less topical, but just as awesome, articles in their pages.
Here’s an excerpt from a pitch-perfect story entitled “Donald Fagen Defends Steely Dan to Friends“:
NEW YORK—While having drinks with friends at a local bar Monday, Donald Fagen, 60, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and cofounder of the multiplatinum-selling American rock band Steely Dan, was once again forced to defend his appreciation for the multiplatinum-selling American rock band Steely Dan.
“Look, I understand. It’s an acquired taste,” Fagen said after putting his group’s 1978 hit “Deacon Blues” on the bar’s jukebox. “I wasn’t that into it at first, either. But when you really listen to the unbelievable production values and the wry, perfectly crafted lyrics—it’s just great art, okay? You should definitely give ‘the Dan’ a shot.”
Fagen went on to cite additional evidence in defense of his admiration for the music, including the disparate jazz, R&B, and blues influences that pervade the band’s music, and the ultraclean sound that became the group’s hallmark.
“No one attained that level of perfection in the studio,” Fagen said. “Do you know how many guitar players tried and failed to nail the solo on the song ‘Peg’? Six. Six professional session guitar players. That’s commitment to a vision, if you ask me.”
“Not to mention almost ruining Michael McDonald’s voice just to get the background vocals on that track,” Fagen added.
“No way you’d be saying this crap if you’d seen Steely Dan
play live as many times as I have.”
Even after his acquaintances roundly dismissed Steely Dan as “pussy music,” Fagen vehemently maintained that the band has contributed significantly to the rock and roll genre, and described his and Becker’s unorthodox instrumentation choices and song arrangements as “bold.”
“God forbid someone take a chance by having more than three chord changes in a song,” Fagen said. “You can’t just write it all off as ‘shitty jazz fusion’ because there are a few horns in the band. And what about ‘Bodhisattva’ and ‘Show Biz Kids’ on Countdown To Ecstasy? Don’t sit there and tell me that those tunes don’t rock.”
Just so this post isn’t a complete Onion freeload, here’s a shortlist of five Dan deep cuts well worth downloading:
(1) “The Boston Rag” (Countdown to Ecstasy). Epic.
(2) “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” (Pretzel Logic). No idea what the lyrics mean but the melody (such as it is when sung by the relatively tuneless Fagen) is dope.
(3) “With A Gun” (Pretzel Logic). The Dan does Country Music.
(4) “Doctor Wu” (Katy Lied). A heartbreaking tale of cuckoldry and betrayal.
(5) “I Got The News” (Aja). Be patient…Michael McDonald is waiting for you at the bridge.