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Song of the Day #654

Song of the Day: Reelin' in the Years, words and music by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, is one of my favorite Steely Dan hits. Listen to an audio clip here.


I have really liked anything I've heard of Steely Dan. I did a search on your blog and found only one other track of theirs that you mention.

Do you have any other suggested songs or albums of theirs?

Well, you opened up song comments just in time! I never knew you liked Steely Dan, Chris -- would it surprise you to find out they're one of my very favorite groups? They are truly sui generis. Musically, they combine rock sensibilities with all manner of other flavors -- jazz, latin, soul -- and lyrically, what weird and wild stories they tell. Take "Razor Boy" for instance: you get to dance the cha-cha-cha to a song about the grim reaper! Brilliant. Man, don't get me started on Dan appreciation, or I'll be here all day, and I do have some work to do...

Elaine: You won't go wrong with any of their pre-hiatus albums (viz., Can't Buy a Thrill, Countdown to Ecstasy, Pretzel Logic, Katy Lied, The Royal Scam, Aja, Gaucho). These are all solid albums, all great stuff. Their later albums have some good material, but are uneven, so I'd only recommend them to fans who already know the canonical works. But if you pick up any of the above, you'll find that every song is a gem. The first five I listed are typically bargain-priced, too.

"Rikki (Don't Lose that Number)" quotes from Horace Silver's "Song for my Father."

Interestingly, Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" quotes from the same Horace Silver song.

So: please remeber the talent that is Horace Silver when listening to those songs.

Michael and I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Silver perform at a club in Oakland about 10 years ago. He was a delightful man.

But before I get caught up in Horace Silver, let me say I love Steely Dan, too.

Peri- when you say Rikki "quotes from" the Horace Silver tune, do you mean musically, or lyrically? If the latter, I don't see it.

Kudos for choosing Steely Dan. Hadn't heard them before but a listen over at amazon.com was good. I really liked Dirty Work. Is anyone else a fan?


They quote musically. The opening musical bars to "Song for My Father" and "Rikki" are virtually identical...

I wish I was up on my html link stuff so I could post a link to "Song for My Father."

Even more of a musical quote from Silver's song can be found in Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing." It's closer to a direct lift, rather than a quote, to my ears.

Thanks for all the comments on the first "Song of the Day" open to commentary.

I'm glad Aeon posted; I surely did know you were a Steely Dan fan. Don't forget: That's why I featured a favorite track of theirs on the occasion of your birthday (see here, which also happens to be the last Steely Dan song mentioned at Notablog before this one). :)

You are absolutely right, Aeon, about the combination of styles in their music. Considering I'm such a big jazz fan, with a fondness for Latin rhythms and soul, how could I miss! (My tastes are eclectic, to say the least!) And excellent album suggestions too!

Peri, thanks for the Horace Silver references. I hesitate to say much more about "Song for my Father" (Father's Day is coming, and, uh, I had planned to take note of it very soon!). But, for now, an audio clip can be found at this link.

Wow, Chris, I didn't mean to steal your thunder there... :-( Please, don't let my off-topic babbling deter you from future songs of the day.

As for Steely Dan, I like them. I always liked their title song to a very lame movie called "FM" back in the 70's. (The soundtrack was much better than the movie.) "Reeling in the Years" is good, too.


Peri, no thunder stolen at all! LOL By all means, what you said was totally on topic.

And, you know, I think your point about musical quoting is extremely important. So many composers and musicians "quote" from their predecessors, and this can be found not only in composition, but in improvisation as well. Granted, there can be a fine line between "quoting" (which is a paean to those who came before) and "stealing." And then there is the whole phenomenon of "sampling" that goes on in such genres as contemporary hip hop, which sometimes can be used to great effect.

Anyway, keep all these themes in mind. Because we will revisit them again and again now that "Song of the Day" is open to comments. As always, I thank you for your insights.

P.S. - Apparently, the comments interface is still working, even though the web server is being transplanted. So, we'll keep partying until I can add more Songs...

Chris: Whew, thanks for the reassurance. I didn't want what I said about Horace Silver change your ideas about what your song of the day would be for Father's Day...

I look forward to discussing "quoting," and the influence of musical predecessors on this site, because it's a subject I find very interesting, and I look forward to debating the issue of "sampling' and its place in art.

Someday, I would like to write an essay with the "My Sweet Lord" & "He's So Fine" case as an opening ancedote and take it from there...

Thanks, Peri, for the additional thoughts. No worries on changing my "Song of the Day" posts... I usually plan these things way ahead of time, and alter a bit here and there, as the mood, or the news, moves me (like using the "Song of the Day" to tribute a recently deceased artist, or to mark an anniversary, etc.).

And, as far as essays go... well, I did propose your being another blogger here. :) Maybe we could feature an essay of yours here, and use it as the occasion to discuss the issue? Keep it in mind.

I have to say, as a first iteration, that I had a real problem with "sampling" when people were doing it without "citation" (to use a scholarly phrase); it was akin to scholars using certain ideas without giving proper acknowledgment to the source. Over time, however, as the copyright issues were worked out, and "sampled" bits required mentioning certain artists as co-writers, I was less hostile to it, at least from an "intellectual property rights" perspective.

Having been a DJ (yes, I was a mobile DJ for many years, spinning actual vinyl records at proms, engagement parties, block parties, and Bar Mitzvahs), I do appreciate, however, some of the more creative uses of various mixing and "sampling" techniques. Sometimes, when I love a song, and see it being "sampled" in another context, it makes me want to run to the dance floor all over again.

For example, take these two dance songs:

This Time Baby


Love on My Mind

The latter samples from the former, and yet it becomes a whole new dance song, with one aspect of the original forming the basic structure for the new. And the new one is a hot dance track in its own right, while also being a paean to the original.

This has been done with lots of songs. In the dance music field alone, I'm thinking especially of songs like "Love Sensation" by Loleatta Holloway, which formed the basis of another dance scorcher called "Ride on Time," by Black Box. Holloway eventually got the credit she deserved.

Anyway, lots to talk about here...