Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Steely Dan Fan

In the corner of the blogging world that I blunder through, there is a big celebration of Star Wars going on. I am totally cool with that, because as someone who doesn't know many of the best details about the plotlines and characters I am bound to find it educational and interesting.
Since I can't offer much in the way of Star Wars trivia or even opinionia, I decided to offer up some useless info about my own true love.
It is so uncool. It is so unhip. But damnit, I dig the Dan.

Here is some info lifted directly off of steelydan.com.

Steely Dan Timeline

1967-1968: Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, erstwhile students at Bard College, discover common interests in jazz, blues, popular music and contemporary literature, particularly so-called Black Humor. They begin collaborating on songs which they perform in various pickup bands.

1969: Fagen and Becker attempt to peddle their songs door to door in the famous Brill Building, home to many if not most of the schlock music publishers of the day. They are eventually signed to a publishing deal by a small company owned by 60's group Jay and the Americans, who are enjoying a brief revival of their popularity due to their hit remake of the Drifters' "This Magic Moment".

1970: Fagen and Becker join the Jay and the Americans' touring band

1971: On the recommendation of staff producer Gary Katz, the partners are signed as staff songwriters by Jay Lasker, president of ABC/Dunhill Records in Los Angeles. They move to Los Angeles where they are given a small office-with-piano in which to grind out the hits. A desk drawer in the office still contains the brown bag lunches of the previous song-writing team to use the office. The team interprets this touching detail as a symbol of the impermanence of success in the pop music scene. They proceed to write a series of classic but unrecordable cheesy pop songs, while secretly planning to assemble their own band and record their own album.

1972: After rehearsing after hours in the unfinished new wing of ABC Records office, the intrepid little band hits the studio and records their first album. The album, entitled "Can't Buy A Thrill", is released under the name "Steely Dan", which has been unceremoniously lifted from William Burroughs' novel, "Naked Lunch". The charter members are: Denny Dias (Guitar), Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (guitar), Jim Hodder (drums) and David Palmer (vocals).

1973: The band in various configurations tours the U.S. and Britain. Two more albums are released: "Countdown To Ecstasy"and "Pretzel Logic". Donald is now singing all the lead vocals and Walter has begun playing guitar leads. The final touring configuration includes Mike McDonald (vocals and piano), Jeff Porcaro (drums) and Royce Jones (percussion and vocals).

1975: Becker and Fagen disband the original group and begin to record entirely with various session players. The results include a series of acclaimed albums including: "Katy Lied", "The Royal Scam", "Aja", and "Gaucho".

1980: Becker and Fagen go their separate ways. Fagen records his first solo album, " The Nightfly", which is a huge critical and commercial success. Becker moves to Hawaii and becomes a gentleman avocado rancher and self styled critic of the contemporary scene.

The 1980s: Fagen pens tunes for artists including Diana Ross, Manhattan Transfer, Jennifer Warnes and Yellowjackets. He co-produces the soundtrack album for Bob Telson's musical "The Gospel At Colonus", and composes the score for the film, "Bright Lights, Big City". He also writes a column for Premiere Magazine. Becker produces albums for China Crisis, Rickie Lee Jones, and various jazz artists, including Bob Sheppard, John Beasley, Jeff Beale, Andy Laverne, Marty Krystall, The Lost Tribe, Dave Kikoski, and LeeAnn Ledgerwood.

1991-1992: Fagen and producer Libby Titus ("The Mistress of Rock'n'Soul") develop the New York Rock and Soul Revue, which culminates in the recording, "NYR&S Live at the Beacon Theatre". Sessions begin for Fagen's second solo album, "Kamakiriad", with Becker producing. Becker also joins the revue for their Summer '92 Tour.

1993: As "Kamakiriad" sales climb towards platinum and beyond, Fagen and Becker hit the road with The All New Steely Dan Orchestra '93. Becker begins work on his first solo CD, "11 Tracks of Whack" with Fagen producing. A Boxed set entitled "Citizen Steely Dan" is due out for Christmas.

1994: In May the group tours Japan. Becker's solo "11 Tracks of Whack" is released following the successful summer tour by the Citizen Steely Dan Orchestra '94.

1995: "Alive in America", an album of live performances from 93-94 is released. Fagen and Becker begin writing for a new album.

1996: The Official Steely Dan Website goes online in March. The Art Crimes Orchestra tours the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

1997-1999: Work on Steely Dan's first studio album in 20 years proceeds apace through 1999.

2000: "Two Against Nature" is released on Feb. 29 and debuts at #6 on Billboard's Top 200. Donald and Walter receive ASCAP's Founder's Award in May. Summer sees the Steely Dan 2K World Tour of Japan, North America, and Europe.

2001: In February, "Two Against Nature" wins four Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year. Becker and Fagen are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March. In May, Becker and Fagen receive honorary Doctor of Music degrees from The Berklee College of Music. Recording for a new album begins in in the fall.

2003: "Everything Must Go" is released in June, and the EMG Tour of North America runs from July 23 to October 11.

2006: In support of solo projects, both Walter and Donald launch their own websites. Donald releases "Morph The Cat", his third solo CD in March, and Walter continues recording his second solo CD. The "Steelyard 'Sugartooth' McDan (and the Fab-Originees.com)" summer tour of the U.S. runs from July to September.

2007: The "Heavy Rollers Tour" dates are announced for the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.


evil-e said...

I knew how they got the name, I have read the Naked Lunch....good book. Nothing like the title indicates. The name Steely Dan, however, is exactly what it sounds like.

Thanks for the education. My mom listened to them when I was a kid so I am somewhat familiar with their brand of "adult" music.

AlienCG said...

I like a lot of Steely Dan's music, they're musically complex and have some great lyrics.

Babybull40 said...

I don't know a lot of his songs.. But I know at one time I would hear them on the radio...And I would sing.. or try to sing.. And I would never get the words right.. I am kind of surprised that after all these years they are still going strong..

David in DC said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I've always loved Steely Dan. Fagan and Becker are geniuses.

In case anyone didn't get e-e's point, "Steely Dan" is the brand name of a vibrator mentioned in The Naked Lunch.

I've never successfully completed a William Burroughs novel.

I don't really get any of the Beats, except maybe Allen Ginsburg

l.b. said...

Evil-E: "Adult" music...is that anything like adult movies? They do have a way with words ;-)

AlienCG: I appreciate the work they put into their music, but their lyrics just slay me. Sometimes their little stories are so dark and twisty.

BabyBull: I am hoping they will be around in one form or another for many years to come. They are too smart and talented to disappear.

David in DC: I guess they were coming of age when the Beats were big. I haven't read Naked Lunch, although I keep thinking that I should just so I could say I did...or something like that.

Vikki Kane said...

STEELY DAN’S WALTER BECKER stops by the SIRIUS Studios to discuss songs off his recent solo album “Circus Money” and play some of his favorite tunes by other artists during his edition of the celebrity takeover show “Celebrity Shuffle”! (Super Shuffle, channel 12 - Saturday, June 21 @ 10 am ET)

Not a SIRIUS subscriber? Go to www.sirius.com/3forfree and sign up for our FREE 3-DAY ONLINE TRIAL to start listening today!

Victoria Kane
SIRIUS Satellite Radio