No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Jamie Bernstein

Our final Fagen song this week is from his astonishing solo album Kamakiriad. It’s a concept album: a long, shaggy, sci-fi romp in a futuristic car. The songs have a loose, funky, jiggly joy that make this album perfect on a long car trip, or when you’re cleaning the house. I love it with an unseemly passion.




 |  Jamie Bernstein

This wasn’t the first cut on the Gaucho album to speak to me; it took me a while to warm up to it. It is, in fact, not exactly a warm song. But suddenly I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s understated, boppy, and subtle as hell. The lyrics, like so many of Fagen’s, sit like veritable pashas in their bed of melody:




 |  Jamie Bernstein

From the opening upbeat, we know we’re in a warm bath. That beautiful saxophone, that long-limbed tempo, the sweet unabashed major chords – pure sunlight. When I first heard it, I was driving at night through the oil fields of western Oklahoma, picking up some faraway station in that random way that happens at night. I felt I’d been transported to some new, glistening planet.




 |  Jamie Bernstein

I couldn’t resist including this truly odd song from Pretzel Logic. It’s very short. One of the reasons it’s so short is that each of the three verses is one line long. Why did Fagen do that?! It makes me laugh every time – as if he were really so very irritated with his friend Buzz that he doesn’t even have the patience to explain; he has to hurl himself back into that catchy chorus: he’s just so through with Buzz, goddammit!




 |  Jamie Bernstein

Steely Dan. The sound track of my 20’s. What a band. It’s really all about guitarist Walter Becker and keyboard/vocalist Donald Fagen. But if you push me against the wall, not terribly hard, I’ll say it’s really all about Donald Fagen. What a composer, what a lyricist. He was actually writing art songs all along: art songs disguised as West Coast rock, country western, low-down blues, smooth LA grooves, and funk funk funk.