Hey Nineteen

I’m drinking cup after cup of strong coffee and watching Steely Dan videos on the internet.

My job has devolved into marking time and waiting for something to happen. I’m not the guy who makes things happen here. I just clean up the messes, the inevitable chaos that arises from doing business.

The fun-blocking software here at HugeCorp seems to be down. Normally I can’t access YouTube at my office, but today everything is working. I’ve been reading a book about Steely Dan. The book sucks, so I won’t mention the title or the author here, in case the guy googles himself and finds this. I don’t like his book, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings.

Anyway, as a long-time fan of their music, I was pretty sure that the surly, angry complainers depicted in the book were not the guys I’d been hearing on the radio for the past thirty years, so I’ve been taking advantage of this little downturn/downtime in the world economy to research the real Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, and guess what? They are not surly, angry complainers. Oh, they’re not your typical rock stars. They are a bit withdrawn and they may have given some off-the-wall interviews, but the author seems to be a fan and wannabe member of their inner circle, and he has apparently made up personalities for his heroes, and is trying in his writing to emulate a Steely Dan world view that exists only in his imagination.

In the early 1970’s my beautiful teenage girlfriend went by herself to see Steely Dan in concert. I didn’t even know she had a ticket, but the next time I saw her she was still tingling from the experience and she transferred her excitement to me in a long hot afternoon. She gave herself sweetly and completely, and I decided that I was a Steely Dan fan, too.

Soon, though, I betrayed her by going on the road for a few months. I thought of her often, especially when I was singing “My Old School” and “Dirty Work,” and I even sent postcards with pictures of exotic places like the old territorial prison in the Arizona desert. She dumped me while I was gone, for a handsome forest ranger who took her away to Steamboat Springs.

I was shaken, but I got over it in time, and it’s only now that it occurs to me to weep when I think of her.

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12 Replies to “Hey Nineteen”

  1. Yeah, yeah–but did you ever get to see Steely Dan yourself? I used to wonder if they’d sound very good since I’d read so much of their good work was the result of things and people in the studio that might not accompany them on tour. But in Texas we were not often at risk of having access to no damn Steely Dan tee shirts! I thought they were God, no matter what!

  2. Ron, they are excellent in concert.

    And not to rub it in, but last time I saw them — about 12 rows back from the stage, it was *so awesome* to be surrounded by others who loved them so much that it was just…..magic.

  3. I saw Steely Dan once. I cannot say I had much of a connection to the band, but the person who bought the ticket did.

    I’m glad I went and thanks for highlightening why it was important for me to go.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  4. kStyle – It might be a 70’s thing. If you weren’t there when it started, the music doesn’t exactly invite you in. But I’m sure you have the memories. You just haven’t discovered them yet.

    Blue Girl – I’ve liked Steely Dan since the very beginning, but not as much since I started reading this stupid book about them.

    Ron – It’s hard to sound perfect when you’re playing live, which was one big reason why they didn’t tour during their biggest years. But these days the technology has improved so that it’s possible to more faithfully recreate the recordings live, and they sound pretty damned good in concert. (I saw them last summer.)

    BG Again – The live performance aspect is so compelling I wish I could go to more shows, just to be with the music lovers.

    Holly – Don’t be teasin’ your Uncle Larry!

    Girlfriend – New word for the day: “Highlightening.” I love it!

  5. “Ricky Don’t Lose That Number” was genius enough, but it turned out to be child’s play compared to what they were capable of. And they have remained enigmatic – not an easy feat in this world. Yay on them.

  6. vikkitikitavi – You of all people should know that it was “Rikki,” not “Ricky.”

    Adorable Girlfriend – In the words of the great Jack Benny, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking!”

  7. Larry,
    When we lived in LA I heard that “Steely Dan” referred to a silver dildo … since you’ve read the books – is that true?

    Cool story anyway.

    On another topic – What’s up, its been weeks since your last posting.

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