Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the dan

The other day someone sent me an e-mail telling me she had just gotten back into "vinyl" (i.e., LP recordings as opposed to CD's) because they bought a new receiver to replace one that wasn't working. And the first record she played was Steely Dan's "Katy Lied."

I don't even own a turntable anymore; I've gone all CD's. Back in the day, though, I would buy vinyl like crazy, poring over the used and demo bin at the now defunct Aron's Records that used to be on Melrose, smack in the middle of what is now the trendy part although when they were there it wasn't trendy at all. It was pretty run down, actually.

Then she asked what I thought the song "Doctor Wu" meant. I have to confess all these years I really had no idea. I read somewhere, according to the two guys who are really Steely Dan, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, that this has to do with drug dealing in Southeast Asia.

This has been one of my favorite songs ever since its release back in 1975. My idea of what it meant was a distance away from the "official" explanation and I'd just prefer to keep it that way.

Whenever I need a pick-me-up, Steely Dan is my go-to group. That may sound weird because they definitely are not your sunshine, cheer-up things are gonna get better-type group (and indeed are often pretty much the extreme opposite) but that doesn't phase me. I like the songs because of the ironic characters that are featured and as they crawl through whatever scenario they've been dealt in life, they make the best of it whether they realize that or not. Their songs to me represent what I've been espousing lately, "it is what it is." Becker and Fagen merely paint the portrait and leave it to the listener to decipher and draw their own conclusions.

Even though the meanings behind many of their songs may be murky, a good dose of the Dan always puts things back in perspective for me - that life can be murky, so deal with it, haha.

By the way, I was going to post a YouTube of Doctor Wu here but couldn't find anything suitable. There were only bootleg concert copies with horrible fidelity, mixed with the sound of people talking and singing in the background. Like one of the comments said, why can't people just shut up? That is why I don't think I would like to see them in concert because I would be so annoyed at the noise I'd be incapable of enjoying the show.

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