... and welcome--or more aptly, abandon hope, all ye who enter! You
have found your way to a very unofficial Steely Dan lyric discussion page.
What, you say--the pinnacle of presumption? The acme of arrogance?
The height of hubris? To think that anyone can INTERPRET those notoriously
obscure lyrics? Well, fundamentalists beware: herein you will
find interpretations, exegeses, wild associations, whiffs of bullshit,
and continual evidence that meaning is largely in the id of the beholder.
That is, it's hard to be "wrong" about the meaning of a lyric: there
are so many layers of meaning in poetry, indeed in each individual word,
that what it means to you is what it means, whatever Messrs. Becker and
Fagen might have had in mind at the time. Especially since we get
very little help from the authors themselves, who usually offer obfuscation
or non sequiturs in answer to well-meant questions about who the Razor
Boy is, or what they mean by "number." And we love them for it!
Donald Fagen, "Steely Dan Confessions," 2003
I believe that poets don't just write what they write, or even what they think they're writing, but also channel the zeitgeist and the collective unconscious. And even sometimes foretell the future. That is why "Third World Man" or "Your Gold Teeth II" grips us even if we never get a clue about what it Really Means. So that the deeper each of us goes into any of these songs (as into any fine poetry), the richer is their content and the more convoluted are their links to very individual and universal truths.
A word of caution about how seriously to take all this: Messrs. Fagen and Becker have been clear that the words are always subordinate to the music (see for example the 1980 interview in Musician on John Granatino's fantastic page). But that doesn't mean we can't have all kinds of fun with them.
Songs are organized by album: just point, click, and scroll. The page is noninteractive, for many reasons. Links will range from informational to stream-of-consciousness. There are no FAQ's; those are answered elsewhere (visit the lynx). You'll just have to jump in and let yourself be swept away. As custodian, I'll offer my own fever dreams and mix in what I've gleaned from the rich world of Dandom: sources include Hoops! McKay's Digest; Sign In Stranger--St. Al's Guestbook; the Newsgroup; Brian Sweet's book, Reelin' In The Years (buy & read!); Pete Fogel's 'zine, Metal Leg; quotes from the authors; and what YOU have to offer. I know there are lots of inflamed (if not informed) opinions, and I hope you will contribute them for everyone's delectation. It will change; it will grow. I'll answer if you e me, but but I believe that the best forums for discussing lyrics are the labyrinthine Newsgroup, the infamous Guestbook and the venerable Digest--out in the open with the other hopeless fans.
So, if you have great ideas, or obsessive visions, or eloquent disses,
throw them out there. I'm a frequent visitor to all three, and I'll
do my best to pan-fry the big ones and post them here. I'm particularly
interested in any associations or connections you may have with the
lyrics, no matter how far out. If there's something I've missed,
please let me know. I will edit as little as possible, but will try
to avoid redundantly restated repetition. One area in which I will
exercise editorial restraint is the lyrics' relationship to the private
lives or personal experiences of the authors--except for occasional old
and well-publicized events, e.g., the Bard bust.
PREVIOUSLY HELD OPINIONS ARE SUBJECT TO DEBUNKING. IT IS HEALTHY TO READ WITH A SENSE OF DETACHMENT. DON'T BE AFRAID TO HOLD ON TO YOUR OLD BELIEFS.
If your take on something sounds better than mine, which I'm sure will happen frequently, it will get pride of place. It's very hard to say anything original these days, so please give credit where it is due if you quote or paraphrase someone else's ideas. I make this my policy, so if you see something I don't attribute, I came up with it as far as I know, and bend over backwards to be as sure as possible that I'm not appropriating anyone's pet thoughts.
Now who am I to think I can do this? Just another lowly, faithful Danfan; a helpless wordgeek; a sucker for a well-turned phrase or scintillating image with a hyperdeveloped imagination, pianist envy, and no shame. Anybody wants to jump in, I'll be the first to push.
To close, a summary disclaimer: The content of this site is completely unofficial, unapproved by anyone having anything to do with Steely Dan, and is completely the millstone around my own neck. There is no intent to profit by any of its contents. It is a labor of love and warm fuzzies for the greater Dandom. Please do not use any of the contents for your term paper without asking.
*"Here At The Western World"
Many thanks to Pete Fogel, St. Al, Hoops! McKay, Brian Sweet, Joe Murtha,
the Incomparable WebDrone, the Breithaupt brothers, Tomas Broberg, John
Granatino, Scott Borton, the unofficial SD page, Diane de Rooij, megz,.
Most especial thanks to my friend and co-conspirator Roy.Scam, a gentleman
and a scholar, Hank Silvers, the Eminence Grise of fever dreams, and the
many generous and unhinged fever dreamers in Dandom. Thanks most of all
to the Ultimate Perpetrators, Mr. Becker and Mr. Fagen. To them also,
a plea for clemency.
is dedicated to
...all the jiveasses and the true believers
the bullshit givers and receivers
to the triage tent in the great beyond
--Walter Becker, "Medical Science"
VISIT THE GEISHA FROM TIME TO TIME FOR NEWS & UPDATES
This whole thing is just a bald-faced stab at winning the Decoder Ring, the Elusive Grail of Dandom.