close
close

What is Steely Dan?

The outstanding jazz and rock band Steely Dan was formed in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York in 1971. Building on the core duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, the band gained a massive following thanks to their masterful and very accessible debut album You can’t buy thrills. Throughout the 1970s, the band prospered, releasing subsequent releases, including: Pretzel logic AND And I but he began to encounter strong resistance from punk rockers.

Like the followers of the prog-rock movement of the same decade, Steely Dan was distinguished by its complexity. The cherry on top of jazz snobbery put them at odds with rock fans who preferred a heavier, less refined sound. With that out of the way, I hope you’ll join me in chuckling at the irony of punk guitarist Steve Jones’ recent admission of enjoying Steely Dan’s music.

In June 2022, the legendary Sex Pistols guitarist said Telegraph: “I never really listen to Pistols music anymore,” Jones admitted. – I’m fucking tired of this, honestly. I’d rather listen to Steely Dan.” Over time, musical tastes seem to follow a path of sophistication comparable to alcohol, stretching from Sid Vicious’s White Lightning to Steely Dan’s Dom Pérignon.

As someone born a few years after the glory days of Steely Dan and the Sex Pistols, I can enjoy aspects of both enduring, minimal ratings. As funny as it may be to watch Sid Vicious hit seven cymbal bells with his bass guitar, there’s nothing better than unscrewing the cork on a balcony in the south of France to the sound of “Do It Again” and listening to the song.

Despite the apparent gap between the Sex Pistols and Steely Dan, they have several things in common. Although Fagen and Becker were never considered anarchist crusaders, they did occasionally dip their oar into the waters of clowning. An example of the band’s wit can be found in their hilarious exchanges with Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson.

Another example of the playful side of Steely Dan, who has been staring us in the face with stiff sass since 1971. After all, the band’s name refers to a mechanical dildo powered by steam. Unfortunately, as far as I know, this intriguing sex toy exists only in fiction, first mentioned in the pages of William S. Burroughs’ cult 1959 novel Naked lunch.

“Steely Dan III of Yokohama” is the belt worn by Mary during one of the most sexual scenes in the book: “Mary straps on a rubber penis: “Steely Dan III of Yokohama,” she says, caressing the shaft. Milk squirts all over the room… I tie him up, undress him with a razor and fuck him with SteelyDan I.

Indeed, not a cold-eyed name for Daniel, Steely Dan emerges merely as the tip of the iceberg of unknown objects and concepts that litter the Beat Generation supporter’s enduring dystopia. Burroughs also introduced his readers to hideous humanoid creatures called Mugwumps, a drug derived from the meat of a centipede known as Black Meat and a talking asshole. If you ask me, Fagen and Becker chose the right name from a somewhat bizarre menagerie.

Listen to the classic Steely Dan song “Peg” below.

Related topics