Inhuman Swill : Steely Dan

When all my dime-dancing is through, I run to you
Winter is not here yet, but it has definitely RSVP'd this past week. Summer had finally shown up after slumming somewhere down south but only hung out for a couple of weeks before autumn served it its eviction notice. I know that in a few months we'll be longing for temperatures in the 50s, but right now it feels cold as hell out there.

Fortunately, it was hot inside the Chicago Theater last night, once everyone thronging the sidewalks stopped taking pictures of the marquee and squeezed themselves through the doors. As part of their Rent Party '09 tour, Steely Dan is playing complete albums in a few cities. Chicago is fortunate enough to have gotten Aja last night, and gets Gaucho tonight and The Royal Scam on Thursday. I wish I could go every night, but Laura and I could choose only one, so we agreed on Aja.

It was a fantastic show, with an incredible cross-section of great songs. I won't be posting a full review, but I do want to note a couple of things. First, this was the first show we've been to in a long time, with the possible exception of AC/DC, where the majority of the crowd appeared to be older than we. (Definitely not the case at, say, The Dead Weather a few weeks back.) Second, having listened to it countless times over the past 32 years, I can't quite put my finger on why "Deacon Blues" made me all teary last night. Maybe I, I want a name when I lose.

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Circus money

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Circus Money | Walter Becker
There's no way on earth that I'm the world's biggest Steely Dan fan, but I like to think I'm up there in the top thousand. This may explain why I'm so stoked that, after 2006's Morph the Cat from Donald Fagen, we're about to get Circus Money from Walter Becker!

Check out the first single, "Somebody's Saturday Night", streamed from Rolling Stone:

We'll be seeing Becker and Fagen together this July at the Chicago Theater....

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My favorite song

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I've talked here before about the home music server I created, which lets me and Laura listen to any of our 43,193 (and counting) MP3s from any location with a web browser and a broadband connection. My server has been operating for nearly three years, though it was only in February 2004 that I enabled it to keep track of what I listen to.

I hadn't checked my stats for quite some time, but this morning I thought I'd take a look and see what my most-played tracks are. I was pleased though not exactly surprised to see that Steely Dan's "West of Hollywood" (from Two Against Nature) occupied the top spot, with 23 virtual spins in these past 29 months. Less than once a month may not seem like very heavy rotation, but it's pretty significant when you consider that in that same span I've only listened to 23,898 of the tracks in my collection. (That's unique tracks I'm counting there, not the number of times those tracks have been played.)

I figure this is as good a measuring stick as any for saying that, in practical terms, "West of Hollywood" is my favorite song. And it is a great song. The lyrics hook me and always suck me in, and when Donald Fagen gets to the bridge part and croaks out, "She reached out for my hand while I watched myself lurch across the room, and I almost got there, I almost got there," I never fail to get a shiver. But the best part of this track is the, like, four minute Chris Potter sax solo, where Donald and Walter put the poor cat through a truly punishing series of changes and he just doesn't quit. It's an amazing outro to an amazing record.

So yeah, that's totally fair. I'll cop to "West of Hollywood" as my favorite song.

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Babble on, brother

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One wonders if this Fox commentator really gets the joke. It's kinda hard to tell.

I've long been a devotee of the Steely Dan web site, and their tongues are usually so far in their cheeks they're in danger of getting bitten off. Like with this 1999 letter to Rudy Giuliani.

(Via Laura.)

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December's CD mixes of the month

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