Saturday Night Classics

 

I chose this song for several reasons. It’s a classic in the sense that it still holds up, is a song that is well-known (one reactor labeled it ‘elevator music’ – but in the best sense) and is generally under appreciated.

The structure of this pop song is worth exploring.

Intro (a partial hook from the chorus)

Verse I:  we drop into the middle of a man’s thoughts. One remarkable aspect is the verse doesn’t try to rhyme which was strange in those days – it’s more narration, setting the feeling.

Chorus: the musical hook the message We still really don’t know what the song is about but the music carries us

Verse II more exposition and still mysterious, yet we feel this man’s sentiment

Chorus emphasizing the message again

Instrumental: The guitar takes us away, gives us time to feel and launches beautifully into the bridge

Bridge: This is the crux, the meta-message, a climax of expression

You tell yourself you’re not my kind

But you don’t even know your mind

And you can have a change of heart

Chorus: Now we know more background with more emphasis

Outro

The piano is the star of this song, along with the vocals of course.

When appreciating music it’s useful to approach listening from various instruments as a basis of interpretation, which brings different perspectives. Here is a bass tutorial that allows us access to one such perspective.

Another reason I chose this song is I am learning piano.  I’m a rank beginner and  stumbled on this song, and I’d like to play it. I already play violin and (still learning, but far from a beginner) I actually like the learning process.

There are some things about piano that us violinists are quite jealous of. All you have to do is press the right button and the note resounds clearly and  perfectly pitched. This one thing takes years on a violin. The keyboard is laid-out simply and musical notation is designed for piano.  But other things are much more challenging, left hand/right hand syncopation is difficult, you are using all ten fingers as opposed to just 4 of the left hand (although bowing with the right hand provides other challenges -but many many rewards a pianist can’t possibly articulate).

So I include this:

I love reaction videos of songs I like, here’s one of many by guys who know music

This is a great song by itself but Steely Dan wrote and recorded many songs I like even more, but are more obscure and were never ‘hits’. Below is my view…thanks for reading!

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There are 11 comments.

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  1. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Give a listen to the opening:

    • #1
  2. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    It’s a great song, but for the anniversary of The Insurrection I couldn’t think of anything but “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister.

     

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Oh, and @randywebster

     

    • #3
  4. davenr321 Coolidge
    davenr321
    @davenr321

    Rikki…” is such a great song… whenever I’m listening to the radio while driving, I never skip a station that’s playing anything by Steely Dan and it’s often “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

    Steely Dan facts:

    1. In any of their incarnations over the decades, their musicianship is impeccable. The guitars, every song almost, are amazing.

    2. The songs are almost always about drugs, sex, and rock and roll, in that order. So… hey, nineteen! Riding the dragon tonight with Kid Charlemagne, eh?

    3. You would be embarrassed telling anyone under the age of 40 where they got their name.

     

    • #4
  5. Franco 🚫 Banned
    Franco
    @Franco

    davenr321 (View Comment):

    Rikki…” is such a great song… whenever I’m listening to the radio while driving, I never skip a station that’s playing anything by Steely Dan and it’s often “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

    Steely Dan facts:

    1. In any of their incarnations over the decades, their musicianship is impeccable. The guitars, every song almost, are amazing.

    2. The songs are almost always about drugs, sex, and rock and roll, in that order. So… hey, nineteen! Riding the dragon tonight with Kid Charlemagne, eh?

    3. You would be embarrassed telling anyone under the age of 40 where they got their name.

     

    I recently learned that the song “Only a Fool Would Say That” was about John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, proving just because you write songs about drugs and rock and roll doesn’t mean you’re an idiot – or a fool.

    Kid Charlemagne is one of my favorite songs  Is there gas in the car? I think the people down the hall know who you are

    And the killer guitar solo by Larry Carlton… Almost every song is about sex – only they use the nice term, “love” 

    • #5
  6. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Franco (View Comment):

    davenr321 (View Comment):

    Rikki…” is such a great song… whenever I’m listening to the radio while driving, I never skip a station that’s playing anything by Steely Dan and it’s often “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

    Steely Dan facts:

    1. In any of their incarnations over the decades, their musicianship is impeccable. The guitars, every song almost, are amazing.

    2. The songs are almost always about drugs, sex, and rock and roll, in that order. So… hey, nineteen! Riding the dragon tonight with Kid Charlemagne, eh?

    3. You would be embarrassed telling anyone under the age of 40 where they got their name.

     

    I recently learned that the song “Only a Fool Would Say That” was about John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, proving just because you write songs about drugs and rock and roll doesn’t mean you’re an idiot – or a fool.

    Kid Charlemagne is one of my favorite songs Is there gas in the car? I think the people down the hall know who you are

    And the killer guitar solo by Larry Carlton… Almost every song is about sex – only they use the nice term, “love”

    Let’s plan a weekend alone together
    Out to Binky’s place
    The sugar shack in Pennsylvania
    Or would that be a federal case?
    We’ll take the Big Red, the Blazer, it’s nice inside
    And guess who’s coming along for the ride

    Who has a friend named Melanie
    Who’s not afraid to try new things
    Who gets to spend her birthday in Spain
    Possibly you – Janie Runaway

    Who makes the morning fabulous
    Rescues a dreary Sunday
    Who gets to spend her birthday in Spain
    Possibly you – Janie Runaway

     

    • #6
  7. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    Steely Dan is always a good pick.  If you want to nail Fagen’s  sound, hopefully your keyboard has a Fender/Rhodes electric piano setting and phaser effect.  That is a big part of their secret sauce.

    • #7
  8. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    I’ve read a bit about Steely Dan, including how they chose their name, and it sounds like they always call the best session players, that they are demanding and very hard to work with. Their compositions have some of the most gorgeous melodies and seediest lyrics in pop music. They are two interesting guys.

    Edit: The full show and interview should show up if one listens to the intro. If not, just search “Marian McPartland Steely Dan” at the youtube search bar. BTW, an acquaintance from the mid-1980s said his aunt was married to Larry Carlton. I don’t know for how long.

    • #8
  9. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    And here I thought you forgot to post a Saturday Night Classic, but it got promoted to the main feed so quickly I missed it.

    Steely Dan is always a winner. We were supposed to see Donald Fagen (RIP Walter Becker) in a show with Steve Winwood at Wolf Trap in 2020, but we know what happened that year.

    This is the night of the expanding man
    I take one last drag as I approach the stand
    I cried when I wrote this song
    Sue me if I play too long
    This brother is free
    I’ll be what I want to be

    • #9
  10. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Django (View Comment):

    I’ve read a bit about Steely Dan, including how they chose their name, and it sounds like they always call the best session players, that they are demanding and very hard to work with. Their compositions have some of the most gorgeous melodies and seediest lyrics in pop music. They are two interesting guys.

    Edit: The full show and interview should show up if one listens to the intro. If not, just search “Marian McPartland Steely Dan” at the youtube search bar. BTW, an acquaintance from the mid-1980s said his aunt was married to Larry Carlton. I don’t know for how long.

    From my understanding the spared no expense when it came to recording. If they need a guitar solo (remember those) they would bring in a bunch of the best and most high priced guitarists to record solos and then pick the one they liked the most. 

    • #10
  11. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    thelonious (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    I’ve read a bit about Steely Dan, including how they chose their name, and it sounds like they always call the best session players, that they are demanding and very hard to work with. Their compositions have some of the most gorgeous melodies and seediest lyrics in pop music. They are two interesting guys.

    Edit: The full show and interview should show up if one listens to the intro. If not, just search “Marian McPartland Steely Dan” at the youtube search bar. BTW, an acquaintance from the mid-1980s said his aunt was married to Larry Carlton. I don’t know for how long.

    From my understanding the spared no expense when it came to recording. If they need a guitar solo (remember those) they would bring in a bunch of the best and most high priced guitarists to record solos and then pick the one they liked the most.

    I read that Mark Knopfler laid down a lot of tracks when Gaucho was being recorded and all that was used was a short intro to Time Out of Mind. There are still articles on the web that say he was pretty ticked off. 

    • #11
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