Donald Fagen Defends Steely Dan To Friends

Top Headlines


‘Winnie-The-Pooh’ Turns 90

Winnie-The-Pooh, the A.A. Milne series featuring a stuffed bear and his toy animal friends, debuted 90 years ago this week. Here are some milestones from the franchise’s nearly century-long run:

50 Years Of ‘Star Trek’

Star Trek, the science-fiction show about the crew of the starship Enterprise, premiered 50 years ago today on NBC, spawning a cult following and decades of spin-offs. Here are some milestones from the franchise’s 50-year history

How Big-Budget Movies Flop

Despite the recent box-office failures of Exodus, Ben-Hur, and Gods Of Egypt, studios continue to fund big-budget movies they hope will achieve blockbuster success. The Onion provides a step-by-step breakdown of how one of these movies becomes a flop:

Your Horoscopes — Week Of August 30, 2016

ARIES: Sometimes in life, you just need to stop whatever it is you’re doing and take a step back. Actually, maybe it’s two steps back. Yeah, that’s good. Keep going. The stars will let you know when you’re far enough.

‘Rugrats’ Turns 25

This August marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Rugrats, the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon about intrepid baby Tommy Pickles and his group of toddler friends. Here are some milestones from the show’s nine-season run

Your Horoscopes — Week Of August 9, 2016

ARIES: Your life’s story will soon play out in front of movie theater audiences across the country, though it’ll only last about 30 seconds and advertise free soft drink refills in the main lobby.

Director Has Clear Vision Of How Studio Will Destroy Movie

LOS ANGELES—Saying he can already picture exactly what the finished cut will look like on the big screen, Hollywood film director Paul Stanton told reporters Wednesday he has a clear vision of how studio executives will totally destroy his upcoming movie.

Your Horoscopes — Week Of June 14, 2016

ARIES: Once the laughter dies down, the party favors are put away, and the monkeys led back inside their cages, you’ll finally be given a chance to explain your side of the story.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Donald Fagen Defends Steely Dan To Friends

Fagen tries to convince colleagues that Steely Dan doesn't "suck hard."
Fagen tries to convince colleagues that Steely Dan doesn't "suck hard."

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.

The 'Dans seminal debut comes highly recommended by Fagen

Though Fagen remained effusive about Steely Dan throughout the debate, he did eventually concede that the song "True Companion" from the Heavy Metal soundtrack was "really gay." He was quick to point out, however, that the track was not technically a Steely Dan composition, but rather a Donald Fagen solo project.

"No way you'd be saying this crap if you'd seen Steely Dan play live as many times as I have," Fagen reportedly told his companions after purchasing them a second round of drinks. "Plus [Steely Dan cofounder] Walter Becker is a super nice guy."

In an attempt to enlighten his friends and possibly pique their curiosity to the point where they would accept his standing offer to burn them copies of Steely Dan's 1974 album Pretzel Logic, Fagen went so far as to bring up some of the more esoteric trivia pertaining to the group.

"Everybody knows that Steely Dan is named after a dildo, but were you aware that Chevy Chase played drums when the band was called the Leather Canary?" said Fagen, referring to his formative musical years at Bard College in upstate New York. "Of course, that was way before he went on to Saturday Night Live fame."

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."

Though Fagen remains loyal to Steely Dan and more or less has reverence for the band's entire catalog, he said that he is the first to admit the shortcomings of the music.

"No one knows better than I do that this stuff can get extremely self-indulgent," Fagen said. "And, yes, I realize that all the preciousness and apparent awe at its own cleverness can be a little too much to stomach sometimes. Hell, some of Gaucho is even too goddamned smooth for me."

"It's no Dire Straits, I'll give you that," Fagen added.


Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close