The liner notes for "Alive In America" offer this description:  "Eclectic.  Orientalism.  Slide into decadence or healing regression?  Structure:  AABBCCAC."  (For the third comment, cf. "Babylon Sisters." on "AIA.")

  Is this not one of musicdom's most nearly perfect songs, in every respect?

Mock Turtle (GB, 4/15/98)  I think 'dime dancing' refers to the time-honored tradition of paying for your date.  People would bring a pocket full of dimes and, at regular intervals, give their dance partner a dime.  Particularly common practice by male Asian immigrants (there was a lack of Asian female immigrants), and in particular, Filipinos, in the early part of the century.

Prof.Steve v dan (GB, 4/15/98):  lyric interpretation #2345...lyrics to 'Aja'....
    possibly desribing a prisoner of war in Korea..."Up on the hill": an army hospital....."dime dancing": his only respite dancing to an old jukebox at the village cafe....
    "double helix in the sky tonight":some sort of star alignment
    ...I once had a dj friend who insisted that 'Aja' was the name of Charlie Chan's #1 daughter...

kashi (GB, 4/16/98):  I have always been struck by it's imagery of an asian country.  I believe this song is a tribute to the viet-nam veteran who "never really" came back.  It's descriptions about life in washington presents the lai-za-fare(sp), of how the war was treated.
    The further explaination of how the battle were fought, and what was done to forget those battles, were very striking, worthy of being filmed in APOCALYPSE NOW.

Roy.Scam (GB, 4/17/98):  Kashi:  Another thought provoking interpretation of Aja, the un-readjusted Nam vet.  I've always thought the lyrical simplicity in that song was to intentionally not distract from the music (ie:  Hey, I like oriental stuff.)  I guess those lyrics have been hovering over my depths, waiting to plumb them.  Your interpretation would explain the police whistle and the desire to throw out the hardware.  Maybe the throwing out the hardware is a call to a final confrontation, a hand to hand combat of sorts (man vs. demons, man vs. death).  That association reminds me of Bruce Dern in "Coming Home", ceremoniously laying down his military gear and walking into the surf, for that final resolution of his torment and confusion.

Spuds (GB, 4/19/98):  About Aja:  A gentle acquiesscence from god and country to just God--or at least the cognizance of something bigger than nationalism.  The double helix symbolizes man as a species, not just as an ethnicity.

Earthbound (GB, 4/21/98):  Double helix...hardware...
    Back in the day when amyl was only available in certain more seedy establishments, HARDWARE was the brand of choice.  The li'l jar had a brite white plastic shrink cote with the military-stencil lettering and a loose caution printed in lite royal blue.  Hmm, just a thought.

oleander (GB,4/25/98):  My take is that "up on the hill" is a mental institution, and not the latter-day managed-care kind where you for 72 hours and then out, but the old-fashioned kind from which "there's no return."  That's why "they've got time to burn."  Nice irony with "dude ranch."  That's also why "people never stare/ they just don't care," because no matter how weird you are, everyone else is so Thorazined of Haldol'd out they don't notice.  Are the Chinese music, angular banjoes, and double helix delusions/hallucinations (the latter, I guess, if you're psychotic)?  drug side effects?  an attempt by the singer to imagine himself out of that hellhole?  It reminds me of one of the Anais Nin books, where she described a young woman being "demonstrated" to a class of med students as a psychotic, but whose "visions" and words were lyrical, beautiful, and made complete sense in her idiosyncratic way.  The idea was that she was actually sane in a psychotic world.  Also reminds me of a movie called "Man Facing Southeast"--similar idea--what is crazy, really, and to what horrors are supposedly crazy people subjected in the name of sanity?
    And yet another association, with Jonathan Pryce in "Brazil," fantasizing himself out of surrealistic torture.  And one more--thoughts of Charlie Parker in Camarillo.  Ruby, I had the same thought about "throw out the hardware"--i.e. do it bare, but without the you're-having -my-baby part.  I also had a flash of straitjackets and ECT (electroconvulsive or "shock" therapy) equipment as the hardware to throw out.  The amyl ref is a good one too.  Aja might be the angel he dreams to keep from drowning in madness or abuse, or an old flame who serves the same purpose.  "They think I'm okay/ Or so they say":  the "keepers" soothingly reassure the singer that he's okay, but he doesn't believe them--he may be paranoid, or just fully aware that if he WERE okay, he wouldn't be there.  Think Catch-22.  I appreciate the explanation of "dime dancing"--I thought it was from the Depression, when people came up with all kinds of ingenious things to stay alive, including marathon dancing ("They Shoot Horses, Don't They?") and paying per dance.

RubyBaby (GB, 4/26/98):  Aja is so complex and unique it leaves a whole lot of room for interpretation.  It can be anything we want it to be on any given day.  I've come to think of *dime dancing* to be what his other relationships amount to in comparison with the thing he had or has with Aja.  I'm not sure if he runs to her only in his mind (memories are powerful things for escapists), or if he actually runs to her.  In either case, he has a tendency to engage in meaningless escapades, doesn't he?
    But we still adore him...

THINK before you post (GB, 4/26/98):  Dime Dancing = when you go to your job and work for the money.  The guy goes to a dude ranch on his vacation god damn it.

Clas (GB, 4/26/98):  I read somewhere, a long time ago...that "we never write in code, never has, never will."  But hell, who knowes?  But maybe that was a code or something.  Personally I believe that the Dude Ranch is a Dude Ranch and Up On the Hill is Up On the Hill.  Not down in the bunker.

Gap Brandy (GB, 4/27/98):  Donald abhors meaningless situations / relationships.  The problem is that the majority of our relationships are destined to be meaningless.  Donald does a good job of stating that fact and stepping out of the line of fire.

Roy.Scam (GB, 4/28/98):  I presumed that Bad Sneakers is about an incarcerated mental patient.  Is this a recurring theme?.... Isn't a helix also the curved part of an ear?  Maybe the double helix is a pair of ears in the sky tonight, as in 'God is listening.'

oleander (GB, 4/28/98):  I can see Sigmund Freud and Gertrude Stein in a solemn pavane, she saying "a rose is a rose is a rose," and he "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

stevevdan (GB, 11/8/98):  with all this Newt Gingrich talk I keep hearing the phrase "up on the hill"...which of course brought to mind Steely's 1977 epic track 'Aja' (again!)....could the songs character be some sort of military intelligence/pow....and "up on the hill" refer to US Government funding...the por guy is wasting away in a pow camp....dreaming of romancing....sort of Apocalypse Now meets Victor Mature meets....a really good bag of weed (oops soory we're all clean and sober now!)...

F#maj (GB, 9/16/99):   re:Viet Nam- I suspected that Aja didn't take place in some mental facility.... The angular banjo, the Chinese music sounded like a hillbilly sort talking... maybe from "over the hill", like a grunt who has bid a hasty and most unofficial East St.Loo Toodle to his unit and now has time to      burn with others he has hooked up with at the dude ranch. I wear this interpretation like a loose garment though.... There is no dime dancing like humping the boonies.

Slint (9/24/99):  I have it on good authority that "up on the hill" refers to an EST camp in the late 60's and early 70's, EST being a fast, fly by nite religion/lifestyle invented by a rather shaky psychiatrist (can't remember his name dammit) .. EST was trendy, expensive and popular for a couple of years in Northern California ... it died a fairly fast death .. it was bullshit.
    By 'good authority", I refer to an interview with Donald Fagen I read years ago....he explained AJA ... the WHOLE album... AJA is a simplisitc love song that's been written a thousand times, only not by Steely Dan...only Donald Fagen could throw such a studio screw into somthing this obvious.... Again, from the interview with Mr Fagen and with what I know about EST make this just perfect...I don't know why he chose EST to compare values here....perhaps he tried it....he never did mention in the interview....at any rate, in proper Steely Dan fashion, Donald is in love again. only this time, he is reaching for something better in his life....he's reaching for perfection, self fulfillment....actually, EST is a good variable here, it just hit me, only because I'm writing about it....trust him eh...."above the sea" - the first EST camp was started in Northern California atop a cliff....reason being, the hasbeen psychiatrist who "invented" EST thought it to be a wonderfull notion to have the reality of death ever present while he and his followers danced (a BIG part of EST, self expression, freedom, dancing with whomever they cared -'dime dancing') and studied the positive perfection that life was supposed to hold for them...interesting note here..Charles Manson visited this first camp in early summer 1969, a couple of months before he turned his rejected little troops upon Los Angeles and the outlying region...he was positively shunned by the group;  they ignored his presence totally....tells you about HIS vibes....anyway, the cliff was chosen to constantly remind his followers that life triumphs over death, the cliff being a 10  second jump to the latter. Enough said.  This camp is "up on the hill". Any reference to anything while the narrator is there is simply a reference to what works better and always will, even though he is striving for something better and less simple....his love....the name AJA was chosen for one reason...the two "boys" had  gotten this Chinese sounding riff going while writing the song and hence decided to implement it thereafter. Calling his love Gloria with this gorgeous studio work would never have worked. "People never stare, they just don't care" .. "Up on the hill, they think I'm ok, or so they say" .. He's trying to fit into this new world of  his, but he knows that there is nothing better than his love for AJA. He knows love is the key, that there is no other answer. Love, after all, IS the key, and is the most commonly written song, but only these guys could do it like this, with top notch studio help and with the primal musical skills that they both hold. I think AJA is the most powerfull song they have ever written. Steve Gadd just pounds the message across, especially in the end. It's a grand tour of what these two guys could accomplish together, all wrapped up in one awesome song.
    "AJA, when all my dime dancing is thru, I run to you...."  .... What more can one say :]

est (Erhard Seminars Training) was the brainchild of Werner Erhard, ne Jack Rosenberg, a car salesman from the Midwest who emigrated to California and set himself up as a spiritual leader/ motivational speaker/ cult stoker.  He was not a psychiatrist and seemed to be pretty much an autodidact [pun intended].  He set up weekend-long seminars billed as self-exploration and mind-expansion, kind of along the lines of Zen with the goal being to "get it" about yourself and the world.  These were characterized by physical deprivation (few water, meal, or toilet breaks) and haranguing by him or other staff, both methods widely used in cults, were quite expensive, and caught on big.  He set up a neat Ponzi scheme wherein the grads would show their worth or gotitness by going to work for est as organizers, trainers, gofers, etc., for insanely long hours and low pay.  There were lots of questions about creative financing, sybaritic lifestyles at the top, etc.  Most people who had anything to do with est and speak publicly about it are blisteringly critical of the experience--which of course begs the question of why so many were attracted to it in the first place.  There was also a tell-all book several years ago, and a "Sixty Minutes,"  in which his daughters described some pretty scary things about how the guy really was behind the closed doors of home.  For an erstwhile estie's account of his experiences, visit this site.  Many of the refs on the web to est are on cult lookout sites, e.g. this one.  For even more description of the "philosophy," go here.
    "Aja" as a dis of a representative new age brainwash job--I LOVE it!  There are so many things that fit.  For example, "They think I'm OK" makes me think of Transactional Analysis, a pop psych form which was also popular then and unlike est still has some legitimacy,  and whose motto was (all together now) "I'm OK, you're OK"--I mean, can you imagine the hay Mr. F and Mr. B would have made with that, much as they loved LA?
    If anyone knows how to get hold of the article, please let me know.

aja (GB, 11/22 & 26/99):  I've never thought "Aja" was a woman, but rather any form  of escapism from the ordinary and mundane ("dime dancing"). Is it not the most beautiful 7 minutes 56 seconds ever  recorded?
    ....I was surprised (and interested) to read that a lot of people hear a story of a Viet Nam  vet or a mental hospital in that song. What I've always envisioned when I hear "Aja" is a young man just starting out in the world, similar to Nick Carraway in "The Great Gatsby"; he's making a living among the disaffected rich ("up on the hill, people never stare, they just don't care") but is not really a part of their society ("they think I'm okay, or so they say") but part of him feels as if he's selling out something of himself ("dime dancing"). At the end of the day he runs to his true love, Aja, where he can finally be himself. I hear "Aja" as being music, an idealized woman or relationship, drugs, or any form of escape. The music changes tempo (or something like that, I'm not a musician) and becomes more dreamy and hypnotic when DF sings the Aja chorus, so that enhances the escape theme for me.

RubyBaby (GB, 11/25/99):   I always thought of "the hill" as Capitol Hill for some reason.   I have thoughts on "double helix in the sky tonight," but we need the next sentence, "throw out the hardware, let's do it right." I look at that as a techno/romantic way of saying "let's make a baby." (DNA in that double helix formation and we all love to ditch the "hardware" sometimes, right?)

miz ducky (GB, 11/26/99):  For me, the key to understanding the lyrics is the phrase "the dude ranch above the sea." That, along with the sorta-echoes-of-Bohdisattva orientalist lyrics, evokes for me certain West-Coast alternative-spirituality retreats such as the Esalen Institute, in the middle of the Big Sur region of the California coast. Now, I've never been inside Esalen, though I've driven past it once or twice; but I have heard a lot of legends about its reputation, and Esalen could quite accurately be described as a kind of organo-groovy "dude ranch above the sea." Apparently, in the 1960s and 70s it was     really famous (or notorious) for overnight retreat-workshops on trendy cutting-edge personal-growth topics ... as well  as all sorts of extra-curricular recreational activities with recreational substances. I doubt it's anywhere near as wild as it once was, but I Could Be Mistaken ... :-)
     Anyhow, the lyrics for me turn into a kind of loose metaphorical meditation on the kind of  let-go-of-the-mundane-dime-dancing-world, get-in-touch-with-yourself-and-be-groovy thang that might have happened at a place such as Esalen. The narrator of the song, of course, has the usual Dannishly ironic attitude towards such  letting-go, but not so much that he isn't still willing to come a-running for the experience anyway. It's almost like he's   grudgingly admitting "yeah, it's corny as all hell, but I really do get something out of those wild nights under the stars ... "
     Whether the name "Aja" represents an actual woman he's running to, or is more a metaphor for the whole experience isn't so important to me as that general mood of semi-irony/semi-idealism that the song evokes.
     It's also interesting to me to compare this retreat-to-the-sea with the darker, more decadent retreat-to-the-sea portrayed in "Babylon Sisters."

Come to think of it, there's a great scene in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in which Kesey and the Merry Pranksters completely disrupt a serious, placid get-together at Esalen.  Check it out.
    Meanwhile, back at the dude ranch, check out this GB exchange:

Sociable Hermit (GB, 11/29/99):  Well, since everyone is talking about "Aja", I thought I'd try to add to the mystery. The line, "Chinese music always sets  me free", makes me think of a story. In 1941 when Dizzy Gillespie was just figuring out what would later be called  bebop; he was working in the trumpet section of Cab Calloway's band. Only, Cab was not very fond of the sounds that were coming out of Dizzy's horn, and derisively called it "Chinese music". So, whenever I hear that line, I automatically think of Diz, and wonder if the storyteller in the song is saying that bebop music frees him.

fezo (GB, 11/29/99):  Walt Whitman I'm not, but I do feel qualified to say that lines like "up on the hill they never stare, they just don't care"  sure sound like filler, like many of the other simplistic rhymes (tree/sea, burn/return) in "Aja" the song. I would, though, give extra credit for the use of phrases like "angular banjos" and "Chinese music".

YGK (GB, 11/29/99):  re: Bebop. If "Chinese music" in 'AJA' is a lyrical synonym for be bop, that would make sense with the phrase, "angular banjoes". The music can be quite angular in the intervals it may take, especially when written out. Anyone know if Bela Fleck was playing in the mid-70's?
         Perhaps AJA could just be Fagen's word for bebop.  "When all [his] dime dancing is through, I run to you...."  the author goes home and puts on some bebop on his record player.
         OR maybe....
         "Up on the hill, they think I'm OK, or so they say...."  a musician who is invited to a circle of musicians, say bebop players, might be intimidated about his ability amongst older, wiser, perhaps more adept musicians or musicians who are 'out of his style' of playing. Of course, once the guy sits in on a tune, they could all dig the guys playing, leading to the phrase, "they think I'm OK, or so they say"...which is effectively true; musicians could dig your playin, but they won't necessarily say REALLY dig you till you're gone or have proved somethin over time.   (I know I've sat in with new guyes, there is a certain testing ground to see if I could fit in, and if I've received compliments, I realized that I must take it with a grain of salt. If they really like you, they'll invite you back, and when you return, you'll be able to 'feel the love' from the room about your playin.)
         (And now running with this theme)
     "Up on the hill, people never stare, they just don't care"  could describe the cats in this group 'high above the sea', whether physically above the sea or just high. It could be the dudes are just too cool - they 'never stare' or are too whacked out on the drugs/music to give a shit about who you are to stare. This would effectively describe more than several bebop 'scenes'.
      Looked at in this light, AJA just might be Fagen's anthem for his love of bebop and his experience hanging with a bunch of bop players.
      ... ALSO: the inclusion of Mr. Shorter on the memorable solo is especially profound in this scene....

Dr. Mu (GB, 11/29/99):   It could be another one of those allegorical stories about the music biz like Throw Back the Little Ones or as [Breck] suggestedunder the ax: "Do It Again." The "people up on the hill" are the usurous music execs, the "dude ranch" is the studio, "dime dancing" are the current popular and empty danceable dities, and "aja" refers to symbolically real musical roots like bop, Gillespe, Miles, etc.

Sociable Hermit (GB, 11/29/99):  Let's go one step further.
         "Up on the hill
         People never stare
         They just don't care"
    In the early 40's, Minton's Playhouse was a club where musicians went to jam after hours. It is said that because of "cutting contests", (musicians trying to out do or top each other on stage), that complicated chord progressions were developed to chase the less skilled players away. This club was run by a musician named Teddy Hill. So maybe, up on the "hill", (the club), is the one place where a musician could play the new sounds without getting stared at by the audience.
        "Chinese music under banyon tree"
     Chinese music is bop. A banyon tree, (not plural), is a tree whose roots grow above ground and often form other trunks. This clearly seems like a metaphor of jazz naturally splitting from it's roots into a seperate life of it's own.
        "Here at the dude ranch, above the sea."
    To me, a dude ranch is a place where people go to relax and hang out, so this could be another way to describe Minton's. Now, what if the next line is really, "above the C"? As in the note? Dizzy and others like to play in upper registers to show off their chops, and many bop songs fly off in to the stratosphere, as well.
         "When all my dime dancing is through
             I run to you"
    When a hostess would dance with you for a dime, she wasn't doing it because she loved you, she was doing it for the money. And as I said before, many of these musicians were in other, more traditional bands, (for the money), and would sprint to Minton's after hours and play until sun up, and sometimes later, (for the love).
         "Up on the hill
         they've got time to burn
         There's no return.
         Double helix in the sky tonight
         throw out the hardware
         let's do it right."
    Okay. I think this is a drug reference. They've got time to burn, is maybe a sarcasm toward all the time wasted taking heroin instead of practicing. There's no return could mean that there's no coming back from drug addiction. Double helix...could mean that a new sound is going to be born, perhaps by divine intervention, so throw out the hardware, (the drugs, the syringe), and let's play it the right way.
        "They think I'm okay.
         or so they say"
     I agree with what fezo said, this could either be the audience or his peers saying he's okay.
    "Angular banjoes", may mean Charlie Christian. He was a guitarist with Benny Goodman, but a regular at Minton's and one of the "founders" of bebop. Could just be a mention of him.
    This whole record, though, could stand another analysis from a bebop standpoint. We already have a fever dream suggesting that "Black Cow" is about Thelonious Monk; "Deacon Blues" is about a guy plaing the sax; Josie rhymes scrapple with apple ~ "Scapple From The Apple" is a famous Charlie Parker song.

Here are some beautiful angular banjos (though Japanese).

Dr. Mu (GB, 11/30-12/1/99):  Is Aja the elephant and we're the 5 blind men?...or is it an onion with layer after layer to be revealed? Or is it dark jewel scattering light like the fall sun over a disturbed pond? On the surface the lyrics seem Eastern mystic-lite. Even the music "sounds" a bit "oriental" as if played or heard by someone in a dream who knows the paradigms of Eastern music only to the depth of "Sukiyaki." But underneath the surface, isn't the bop core revealed? Musicians help me out here.  Those chords are flavored with curry and MSG to sound Easter, but are they? probably not. The name Aja - isn't it Asia-lite as suggested by fezo. I don't see hidden and provacative eastern meaning - it's just that they like the spice - the surface. I mean, have Donald and Walter given away their $$, forsaken wordly possessions, pawned the recording gear (hardware) and gone running to the nearest Bodhisattva? or shaved their heads and moved to Barrytown??
     But it gets hazy just as if one is peering though the opium smoke in a 19th Century Singapore den...the temptations of modern society: cheap songs, philosophy, women as well as drugs, selling out for a buck...but the truth keeps drawing us in - jazz. Pure music = enlightenment. It seems consistent with side A of the Aja album (when on vinyl). Black Cow, Aja, and Deacon Blues become a trinity of music philosophy.
     As the mantra of Eastern mysticism lite once grunted by Bruce Lee exclaims: "Do not think! Feeeeell!" We hear this notion in both Aja and Deacon Blues. Most of what the typical American knows about eastern philosphy comes from Bruce Lee movies, the TV show Kung Fu, fortune cookies and The Karate Kid...all partially digested philosphy that the hungry American consumers swallow whole like a ravenous avian hatchling.
     The search for musical purity and oneness are sought by thought (Aja) and deed (Deacon Blues). Black Cow pleads with the wayward musician to forsake the "opium den" and return to the "hill"....
     The gaucho is the horse-back riding cowboy of the plains of Argentina known as the pampas. They are known for a bit more colorful dress than the cowboy of the American West. A wide rim black hat perhaps with tassles, a scarf, vest, and flowing shirt adorn the gaucho amigo.
     A "dude" is a tourist or "city slicker" who vacations a faux Western ranch to get a taste of the old cowboy life. "Dude ranches" sprang up in California and other areas in the 70's as middle-aged urban and suburban white collar-types spent a few bucks to get in tune with themselves, nature, and hard physical work...kind of pathetic. Anyway, Walter and Donald were probably seen by some jazz purists and perhaps even one or two of their session players as "dudes" kneeling near the sacred temple of jazz. I wouldn't be surprised if they coined that relationship for themselves in the studio...of course later the kids picked it up and became household by the time "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was released.

tom (GB, 12/13 & 15/99):  in Aja I misstook "dime dancing" for "dying dancing"....  relistening to aja it indeed sounds like "dime dancing" but the intonation and delayed delivery certainly sound like "dying dancing" - again the context fits both interpretations - the mudane necessity versus the escape he longs for.

Daily Steve (4/13/00):  I understand this song to be a reference to a 'sport' of ancient Upperclass China.  Travelling up the hill to the dude ranch where men used hardware to assassinate birds flying across the sky.  To catch a pair while in the double-helix throes of making love in the air was to really do it right.
Our hero somehow is above all of this, although he fakes it well enough for them to think he's OK, as we all must do at some point in our lives.  He gets through it by being freed by the angular banjoes and banyan trees, and looks to finish his time up there dime dancing with the ladies, only to hurry back to his true love, Aja, back to farming the Good Earth.  Can't you hear the joy in the percussion once he gets there?

SteveVDan (GB, 11/19/00):  ... was talking with an employee of SONY, he was extollong the virtues of the SACD player, and I sold him a copy (papersleeve edition) of 'Aja'...he remarked that the word "aja" meant "vanity" in Japanese....and also "love"....interesting, I always wondered about the spelling of that.....

Roy.Scam (GB, 8/12/01):  For no real good reason, I was thinking about Thorton Wilder's play, "Our Town" recently, and I remembered the scenes in the cemetary. As I recall, the graveyard was on a hill in or near the town, and , metaphysically, was a place where the spirits of the deceased resided, quietly, non-judgementally reflecting, and gradually losing interest in the activities of the living. I couldn't help thinking of the lyrics of "Aja" and phrases like, "people never stare; they just don't care.", above the dude ranch", "when all my dime dancing is through.", "throw out the hardware." One could argue that 'up on the     hill' could be a manifestation of the next stage after death. Anyway, it sometimes conjures up that feeling to me. I haven't worked out the demographic study explaining why Chinese music rules the airwaves in the afterlife.

Kurt (8/17/02):  "Double helix in the sky tonight... throw out the hardware, let's do it
    Dear Oleander and others, I do believe that with regard to the lyrics of Aja (the song), Steely Dan's mention of "Double helix in the sky tonight..." most likely refers to deoxyribonucleic acid, or "DNA", which is of course the DOUBLE stranded, HELICALLY twisted or "wound" strands of genetic material that comprises chromosomes, and the genes contained there-in.  In other words, it's my opinion that SD is "poetically" referring here to the consummation of the sexual act which may result in the union of sperm and egg, where-in the SINGLE-stranded DNA of sperm and egg combine to create a zygote (fertilized egg) with the normal complement of double-stranded DNA and chromosomes.  Simply put, this lyrical line is most likely referring to the authors' hunch that sex and the EXCHANGE OF
SEXUAL FLUIDS (DNA-- sperm, egg...) seems likely on the evening in question, and the line, "Throw out the HARDWARE, let's do it right..." perhaps refers to the protagonist's lustful wish to avoid sex toys such as a dildo or vibrator on this special occasion,in order to instead rely on the "real thing" of simple yet exquisite sexual intercourse , which might well result in the union of sperm and egg, as alluded to by "Double helix in the sky tonight..".  And, as far as the double helix being in "the sky tonight...", I'm reminded of the old Batman comics, in which the Bat symbol would be projected onto the night-time sky when Batman was summoned for help in Gotham, and with respect to he lyrics in question here, it may simply refer to the protagonist's sense or wish that on this particular evening, and with a particular love object, that sexual union seems to be written in the sky and stars above.
    At any rate, I believe the above-mentioned lines of lyrics have nothing to do with DRUGS, and everything to do with SEX and the basic BIOLOGY of sex.

Jeffrey Lange (11/10/03): Think of Aja an oriental prostitute working at a brothel "up on the hill".  The dime dancing as a $10 sex act and "throw out the hardware, let's do it right". as no sex toys just straight sex. What do you think? Sex drugs and rock and roll.

"Apocalypse Now," directed by Francis Ford Coppola (1979).  If you haven't seen this dark epic, one of the most powerful films ever made, go    get it right now and watch it. As of 2001, you will also be able to see "Apocalypse Now Redux," reedited, restored, and reprinted, with many previously-cut scenes added to the miasma
                   "Coming Home," directed by Hal Ashby (1978).  Great cast (John Voight, Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern) and soundtrack.
                   "Brazil," directed by Terry Gilliam (1985).  Kind of a downer, but wonderful.
                   "Relaxin' at Camarillo," by Charlie Parker.  You can hear it on (among other discs) "Yardbird Suite:  The Ultimate Charlie Parker
                    Collection," Rhino Records.
                  Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.  If you haven't read it, yadda yadda.
                   "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" directed by Sydney Pollack (1969), another Jane Fonda movie, as it happens.
                    See Joe Murtha's comments in "Bodhisattva," on "Countdown To Ecstasy."
             The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe, now in Bantam, 1968.
                  The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925.  I believe the Dan definitively have given the lie to what he said:  "There are no second acts in
                        American lives."