KEY WORDS:  unofficial
                       suspension of disbelief


Introductory notes
"Black Friday"
"Bad Sneakers"
"Rose Darling"
"Daddy Don't Live In That New York City Anymore"
"Doctor Wu"
"Everyone's Gone To The Movies"
"Your Gold Teeth II"
"Chain Lightning"
"Any World"
"Throw Back The Little Ones"

Introductory notes

Quoted by Brian Sweet, Mr. Fagen said about "Katy Lied":  " 'Each song is seen from a different viewpoint.  Some, I imagine, have an idealistic tone to them, while others are someone who's obviously suicidal.  Obviously the narrator, if you will, is really in the deep stages of severe depression.  And, of course, I probably was when I was performing them.  Everybody's personality is just a symptom of the times.  I always seem to see both sides of things simultaneously, for which reason I never have an opinion about anything.' " (RITY, p. 89)

You will NOT believe this one:  a Zappa megafan who has done an interpretation of "Katy Lied" as a concept album--nay, as an epic bardic saga.  I can hear the lyre resounding.  Go immediately to visit turtlestew.(Major props to the late budie holie for this link.)

Reelin' In The Years, by Brian Sweet

"Black Friday"

    Brian Sweet reports, "In US history the first real Black Friday occurred on September 24, 1869, a day of panic in the securities market which was repeated nine years later.  The term is often used on both sides of the Atlantic for any day of crisis, financial or otherwise, but there is no evidence to suggest that Becker and Fagen were referring to any particular occasion.  They had simply used their collective imaginations to create a fictitious incident.
    "Becker and Fagen's tale is of a crooked speculator who makes his fortune and absconds to Australia with the proceeds to live in the lap of luxury and seek forgiveness for his sins.... They chose Muswellbrook, a town in New South Wales, Australia, for the lyrics of the tune.  'It was the place most far away from LA we could think of,' explained Fagen... and, of course, it fitted the metre of the song and rhymed with 'book.' " (RITY, p. 93)

    In the Digest of 5/24/97, Bruce Buckingham noted that many buildings traditionally skip thirteen when they number floors, so that the fourteenth floor is actually the thirteenth.

diggy (5/4/99):   One of the greatest thing about Steely Dan is that the music often reflects the message in the lyrics. The lead guitar through-out this song is fantastic to listen to, but very obnoxious. It is as if the narrator is rubbing everyone's nose in the fact that he is set for life living in Australia, and you are screwed. He has made his money with the inside info before the market crqashes and flees town.  He tells you how he did it in the lyrics, and makes you feel his self pride as he abuses his guitar. During the guitar lead to the end of the song,I can almost see him putting his thumb on his nose - fingers extended - saying Na Na Na - Na Na - Na.

tom (GB, 1/23/00):  Gonna strike all the big red words from my little black book.
     been puzzled on that line?
     the little black book is the Bible, and Christ's words are commonly printed in bold Red Large Type.
     He probably has a pocket size (little black book)- New Testament only
     So the advantageous protagonist of the song is dishing on God amidst his new reclusive modus operandus. Look, I pulled it off, don't need you any more.
     funny but he just can't seem to seperate his escapism indulgences from a guilty laiden conscience, so later in this uppy tune he turns to self righteous religiosity...
     When Black Friday comes I'm gonna dig myself a hole, Gonna lay down in it till I satisfy my soul (a sort of self dervived purgatory of asceticism?)
     Gonna let the world pass by me, the Archbishop gonna sanctify me
     And if he don't come across I'm gonna let it roll.
~ if you are gonna go all out, why hold back. Why need the blessings of another mere mortal? An agnostic hedonist with an opportunistic motive and the weight of the world on his back gets just about nowhere fast. He can't strike too boldly when he's worried about the consequences. No assurance is no insurance

Luckless Pedestrian (GB, 8/22/00):  Glamour Profession - a song about excesses (but really fun ones) - fly to Barbados just for the ride (best line)
     The Royal Scam - a song about excesses that hurt
     Black Friday - when excesses get the better of us and we get out
     Turn that be-bop down, I can't hear my heart beat....

Hank Silvers (Blue Book, 10/16/03):  History, just for the record.... "...[the] crash of the gold market on September 24, 1869. "Black Friday," as it became known, was the result of an attempt by financiers Jay Gould and James Fisk to corner the gold market."  [NYT, 10/16/03]

Reelin' In The Years, by Brian Sweet

"Bad Sneakers"

diggy (5/4/99): Bad Sneakers is a story of a law breaker (pimp, gangster, molester, killer) that gets caught. He can see the outside world through his prison cell bars. He sees the ladies talking, the "fellah" in the white tuxedo, and the "ditch" they're digging. All of these things make him regret his life and his current situation. He may be on death row - the excavation - the ditch they are digging for him. Or it may be him wishing they would kill him, "when they gonna send me home". Either way, he is not taking prison very well. He is going insane. When he can't relate to reality anymore, he drifts back to a time with his friends when they wore "bad sneakers", drank pina coladas, and stomped down the avenue with cash in hand. The second verse is a warning to others like himself. He couldn't "beat the heat" (the cops finally got him) and he points out the grave that is being dug for him.

Roy.Scam (GB, 7/6/99): Check out Randy Newman's 1974 tune "Back on My Feet Again" as a possible inspiration for the 1975 "Bad Sneakers":  an incarcerated mental patient trying to talk his way out while jumping from memory to delusion to fantasy to paranoia while getting them all a bit confused.

tom (GB, 12/16 & 17/99):   I always felt that the line from Bad Sneakers -

     "five names that I can hardly stand to hear,
     including yours and mine and one more chimp who isn't here"

referred to the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) to round out the "mysterious" 5.

certainly from the vantage point of the unstable jailed protagonist in the song, I'd have my doubts too under those conditions. As with many Dan songs the characters vantage point reflects certain sentiments that may not be the artists actual guarded views.  D&W always seem to do a great job of getting inside the head of their characters - elusive social commentary light years above the typical derivative lyricist....

I used to interprete the line as the delusioned prisoner's comment to a cell mate mentioning other cell mates and one chimp who isn't here (no longer in prison or no longer living). I always thought it was neat how the lyric leaves you dangling for the unmentioned mysterious other "two".  Then one day the "Trinity" slant on things came to me, probably inevitable as I'm a Christian. Wow, this takes on a whole new possible meaning! The song's protagonist is venting to a fellow inmate on a God he doesn't believe in ("who isn't here") seeing the messed up circumstances he's currently in.

fezo (GB 12/17/99):   that's one of my favorite lines but I never can remember it well enough to post. i never gave it the trinity interpretation though. it always sounded more like the off heard rant of someone with too much time on their hands thinking of the people who bug the shit out of them. your interpretation is cooler.

Hutch (GB, 12/17/99):  The "Steely Dan Song Book" (the notorious Hal Leonard publication with wrong chords) has the line from Bad Sneakers as:
     "... and one more Champ who isn't here."  also: "... and that fearsome *explanation* on Magnolia Blvd.  That book cracks me up!

Dr. Mu (GB, 12/17/99):  I'm going for the prison analogy for Bad Sneakers - BUT an interlaced recording studio claustrophobic semi-hallucination:

     Five names that I can hardly
     Stand to hear
     Including yours and mine
     And one more chimp who isn't here

(all 3 are "chimps," but since the word "including" is used, the other two are NOT part of that group...remember, Fagen was an English major. Perhaps the chimps are the core studio rats. Katy Lied was the first Dan recording which was a true studio/non band effort. Could the other 3 be part of the original group? ...or could they be referring to Dias, McDonald, and Porcaro - the ones who stayed from the '74 tour ensemble. Young Jeff Porcaro was often on the prowl
and MIA.)

     I can see the ladies talking
     How the times are getting hard

(Imagine the close to broke Dan members peering out a studio building window where they could *see* the goings on of the outside world. Observation of the outside world is a recurrent Dan theme. A prison with bars has no direct line of sight to the outside world for many reasons. Occasionally, a small window at a local lock-up is present but way above eye level)

     And that fearsome excavation
     On Magnolia Boulevard

(no prison nearby, but could be near the studio)

     And I'm going insane


     And I'm laughing at the frozen rain

(don't have a clue here as in the next verse the heat is on - unless the heat is the cops)

     And I'm so alone
     Honey when they gonna send me home

(externalizing their "predicament" to The Record Company Formerly Known as ABC-Dunhill)

     Bad sneakers and a Piña Colada
     My friend
     Stompin' on the avenue
     By Radio City with a
     Transistor and a large
     Sum of money to spend

(Brief period of fun following bonus payment, which looked large at the time, following their first hits for CBAT)

     You fellah, you tearin' up the street
     You wear that white tuxedo
     How you gonna beat the heat
     Do you take me for a fool
     Do you think that I don't see
     That ditch out in the valley
     That they're digging just for me

(taking another observation out the window at a man in a white safety suit wielding a jackhammer, then turning the image around and imagining the man diggin a large grave where the chimps will rest their weary bodies after finishing Katy Lied. Life imitated art, as the technical snafus with the noise reduction system almost caused the finest album ever recorded to disappear from the earth)

tom (GB, 12/27/99):   I always imagined the song set in a minimum security prison / mental hospital. The fellow isn't particularly violent and "I can see the ladies talking... fearsome excavation" line as either viewable from his cell window or his vividly picturing the outside world and it's colder realities. In the chorus section he remembers the more positive freeing memories "on the avenue".

kevin (2/24/00):
I think this song has something to do with mobster types....
    Magnolia Boulevard refers to where bodies are 'planted' (like a flower, hence magnolia). This burial site probably includes the "chimp who isn't here"
    The "fearsome excavation" refers to an attempt to hide dead bodies from authorities (then again, maybe it's the authorities who are conducting the
    Either way, our main character has knowledge (perhaps first-hand knowledge?) of the bodies. His knowledge makes him dangerous to the mobsters, and he awaits his death at their hands. As a result, he is "going insane" as he asks himself "when they gonna send me home"
    "frozen rain" refers to the waiting period before the main character's death
    "You fellah, you tearin' up the street" ..is this another reference to the 'excavation'? If so, who is 'tearin up the street'? Is the main character talking to himself or someone else? Hmmm
    And once again the main character refers to the mob's intentions when he says:

"Do you take me for a fool
Do you think that I don't see
That ditch out in the valley
That they're digging just for me"

    And considering the last line-and-a-half of the chorus...

"...a large
Sum of money to spend"

Haha I guess we all get infinitely richer when our time is shortened

kd (4/26/00) It hit me hard watching the VH1 version of 'Bad Sneakers.' I learned to take a step back and take the song for what it was really worth. Don't complicate things, man. It was really about The Two, or, at least, parts of them. No drug dealers left without a job after returning from 'Nam. No record company execs. It's not about David Geffen, it's not about Walt, it's not about me. The Men are just commenting on the fools (as Mike M) would say that seem to circle the whole of El Lay, and Don and Walt might be feeling a bit homesick. And, after that guitar solo, who couldn't?
     When the roomie came in, mid song, I had to hide the tears.

Dr. J (Newsgroup, 8/29/00):  Dali was a remarkable painter [as well as those other things]. he coulda been a photo realist if he chose. but he was fruggin to the beat of a different drummer for sure. i love this analogy. Imagine Dali's surreal masterpiece called "Bad Sneakers". the first time i heard BS i got images of clocks melting over the edges of some ditch out in the valley.

Jimmy the Bat (1/13/03):  This song has Mafia (organized crime) written all over it.
I have read the other responses to these lyrics, and some are on the right track, but some are way off. First of all, the man in the song is not in a prison or a halfway house. He is in the witness protection program (WPP) set up by the government.  He's in the WPP because he squealed on his people. He broke Omerta. If he was in prison or a halfway house, he wouldn't have to ask, 'Honey when they gonna send me home?" He'd know when, or he'd at least have a pretty good idea. Witness
protection is very secretive and lonely. A person in the program can't talk to anyone from their past (even their own parents).
That's why the man in the song is "so alone'.
He's "laughing at the frozen rain" because to him it's a joke to have to deal with freezing rain. When he was still in the Mafia, they were always in a warm climate, drinking Pina Coladas, a large sum of money, etc.
Now he's in a cold climate (WPP) and it makes him irked. He's not used to it.
He's going insane because he's lonely, he paranoid, and tired of looking over his shoulder. He knows he can get whacked at any time.
The "fellah" in the white tuxedo is a fellow Mafia made man. He is trying to hide all the "stuff" (probably bodies) that was squealed by the man in the WPP. He is trying to beat the "heat" (FBI), but probably will not according to the man in the WPP. That "fearsome excavation" will be their entire downfall.
The ditch in the valley is where he'll be buried when he's whacked. He's no fool, he knows.
Again, that's why he's going insane.
There's nothing he can do about it now.
 The "ladies that are talking" are the ladies on the evening news.  That's how he keeps up with what's going on. The nightly news.
The only thing I remained puzzled about is the five names.

Curt (5/8/03):  I liked the idea of Bad Sneakers being about a drug dealer in prison and simultaneously about the band trapped in a recording studio.

"Rose Darling"

Brian Sweet calls this "yet another example of a Becker and Fagen tune with all their characteristic elements of deceit, an illicit affair, drugs, and even murderous intentions.  As usual, not enough of the story details are filled in to allow an accurate assessment of the plot and, indeed, Becker and Fagen's structure allows several vastly different interpretations to co-exist alongside one another." (RITY, p. 91)

Let me just give you this Guestbook exchange on "Rose."  It's a guy thing.

Clas (GB, 3/31/97):  I think I have something here.  I guess Ive decoded the lyrics of Rose Darling.--The woman who is "sleeping" next to Fagen and wont be disturbed by all steamings sounds of love, SHE IS DEAD!  Donald has her ashes in bed, and Rose and mr. Fagen can have a wild sex going on, snake Mary will never wake up!

Roy.Scam (GB, 4/4/97):  Regarding your theory on Rose Darling (Mary's dead.), do you perceive that Rose and her gentleman friend killed her?  I guess being in Detroit with lots of money wasn't just a dream, but Mary's final reward in the afterlife (or since it's Detroit, it could be her final punishment). I can see a Brian DePalma or Clive Barker movie in the making:.......ROSE DARLING.....she'll make YOUR wildest dreams come true!

Shindig (GB, 5/1/97) says that RD is a lesbian reference, which gets things going again:

El Supremo (GB, 5/12/97):  I always thought that Rose Darling was a song about masturbation, kinda in the same vein (ugly pun) as Rosie by Jackson Browne.  I thought Rose was just slang for his hand and he was having to rough up the suspect because Mary just wasn't getting the job done for him anymore.
            "All I ask of you is make my wildest dreams come true"--little bit of fantasy
            "No one sees and no one knows"--a little under the cover action?
            "The spore is on the wind tonight"--If it is "on the wind" then there is no partner
            "We'll wear the weary hours down"--I'll let that one speak for itself...

George (GB, 5/13/97):  I always loved the idea of the concealed love scenes (yes, Snake Mary, the chaperone) between Rose and her lover.  "...with only you and what I've found...".  While "the spore is on the wind tonight," she certainly "won't feel it 'til it grows," but then?!

Roy.Scam (GB, 5/13/97):  If this interpretation of "Rose Darling" is correct, i.e., that Rose is actually Rosie Palm and her five daughters (aka:  Minnie Fingers) and if Jackson Brown's "Rosie" is also about self-gratification, then perhaps 'Rose' is actually a pop-music code word for choking the old chicken.  In that case we've just nailed down Neil Diamond and his Cracklin Rosie (and all this time we thought that was about booze).  Not to mention Barbara Streisand and her "Second Hand Rose" (when one hand just isn't enough).  I guess even Nat King Cole did a little Ramblin' with miss Rose.

El Supremo (GB, 5/13/97):  A code word conspiracy?  I like that!  While "Rosie" by Jackson Browne is blatant:  "You wear my ring," "When you hold me tight, that's my thing," "When you turn out the light, I got to hand it to me/Looks like you and me again tonight, Rosie," I never even considered the ramifications of the other two you mentioned.  Living in Louisville, you have given me new reason to second-guess "Run for the Roses"... :)

Mr. LaPage (GB, 5/13/97):"With only you and what I've found"--a boy whose just learned the secrets of self-gratification?  Shrug, either way, I'll never listen to it the same way again.

Roy.Scam  (GB, 5/13/97):  11 tracks of what??!  You naughty boy.  And don't try to tell us you'll quit as soon as you need glasses.  Now go to your room and don't be spanking that Monkey in Your Soul.

Dr. Mu (GB, 5/13/97) Talk about a "bogus persona!"  Hilarious!  I've been slapping myself silly...er, wait, I didn't mean that...

rabbit (GB, 5/13/97):  re the 'rosie palmer darling' thread here--that line 'the spore is on the wind tonight' always makes me think of a carnal scene with the smell of sex in the air.  I think the guy is just assuring the girl that there's no way the chaperone lady will wake up.  'all our steamy sounds of love cannot disturb her in her night, or raise her sleeping head' or whatever it is.  Anyway 'snake mary' sounds to me like a nun who's in charge of a dorm at a catholic girls' boarding school.

maj (GB, 5/13/97):  "...with only you (hand) and what I've found (skin magazine), we'll wear the weary hours down..."  I always liked their play on words here with "wear the weary."  Try saying that ten times fast.

And last, Teresa (GB, 5/19/97):  Pah!  It's some horny little adolescent copping a bit of nooky while the chaperone to the object of his desires sleeps nearby.

Hey, girlfriend!  Told you it's a guy thing--"buffing the happy lamp," according to Stiff.

Stranger (GB, 8/12/98):  i just see a guy with snake mary who would rather get it on with rose darling.  my one word tag for this song:  longing.

Libido (8/17/99):  Possible inspiration for Rose Darling......

        The Sick Rose

        O Rose, thou art sick!
        The invisible worm
        That flies in the night,
        In the howling storm,

        Has found out thy bed
        Of crimson joy,
        And his dark secret love
        Does thy life destroy.

                William Blake (1757 - 1827)

F#maj (GB, 8/ 17/99):  listen: what has the voice in Rose Darling found?
                                       to wear the weary hours down?

                                       a vibrator. get it?

tom (GB, 12/29/99):  Rose Darling - the setting is a boarding school and "Snake Mary" is the woman assigned to watch over the boy's after curricular activites. She's a real killjoy, hence her nickname by the boys in tow, but thankfully she sleeps through his night time visitations with dear Rose. the rest as other's have aptly stated is a little hand of fate gesture.

Hoops! McKay (Digest, 3/2/00):  ... I was--and still am--so angry that no one agreed with MY interpretation of "Rose Darling."
    Here it is: "Rose Darling" is about a horticulturist with this really bitchy wife.  So when they are in bed at night, after she falls asleep, the protagonist, gets out his color glossy mags, you know, the latest Jackson & Perkins catalog, and gets off fantasizing about his true love.
    Of course, my evil twin and pretty much everyone else thought "Rose Darling" was about some loser who, after his wife Mary falls asleep, gets it on with his "lover," "Sister Rosy Palm and her five fingers."  In other words, it's like that situation in "American Beauty" where Kevin Spacey's character starts jerking off in bed, although there his bitchy wife, played by Annette Benning, calls him on it.
    According to last vignette, Steely Dan was again ahead of their time by 24 years.  "Dan rules!"

  Reelin' In The Years, by Brian Sweet

"Daddy Don't Live In That New York City Anymore"

I think one of the funny things about this song is the difference between the title and the lyrics.  You can hear the thundering primeval struggle between proper grammar and vernacular.

Clas (GB, 5/1/98):  "Daddy don't need no lock and key
                            For the piece he stowed down on Avenue D"
    Maybe Daddy is Donald Fagen!  The "piece" , is it a revolver? Yes, Donald have a bad conscience for steeling (steely = steeling) parts from Beatles music! Revolver! So he stowes his bad conscience and throws away the key! And the fact they stow it out in Alphabetic City is, noone dares to look for it there! Not even streetsmart guys from Brooklyn.

Not My Nancy (6/10/98):  Really funny lyrics, among the best of which is "Drinking his dinner from a paper sack"--a line that is lifted from an earlier Becker/Fagen tune, "I Can't Function" (my personal favorite tune from pre-Can't Buy A Thrill).

    There's a Thelonious Monk tune called "Hackensack."  And PATSJAZZ (GB, 8/5/98) points out that Rudy VanGelder's "first studio was located in Hackensack.  He recorded Monk, Rollins, Coltrane, Blakey and Jazz messengers, Horace Silver, and many others."  (See Pat's comments on "Black Cow.")

diggy (5/4/99): Daddy don't live in that NYC anymore is about a deceiced, neglective, crooked, and alcoholic father. He can't do these things "no more" because he is dead. The narrator tells the story of his daddy's demise
in one of his crooked deals with his "piece." But my favorite line is, "daddy can't get no fine cigar, but we know you're smoking wherever you are." He's smoking - without a cigar - after his death. Sounds like a burning hell to me. And the narrator cares so little that he can make jokes about it.

tom (GB, 2/9/00):  He don't celebrate sunday on a saturday night no more
     he's a catholic and attends mass saturday night to get it over with before his drinking binge starts - less guilt in the morning

Visit Howard M.'s bodacious Monk page

"Doctor Wu"

Brian Sweet quotes Mr. Fagen:  " ' "Doctor Wu" is about a triangle, kind of a love-dope triangle.  I think usually when we do write songs of a romantic nature, one or more of the participants in the alliance will come under the influence of someone else or some other way of life and that will usually end up in either some sort of compromise or a split.  Okay, in this song a girl meets somebody who leads another kind of life and she's attracted to it.  Then she comes under the domination of someone else and that results in the ending of the relationship or some amending of the relationship.  When we start writing songs like that, that's the way it usually goes.  In "Doctor Wu" the "someone else" is a dope habit personified as Doctor Wu.  In "Haitian Divorce" it's a hotel gigolo.  The details of "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and "Through With Buzz" are vaguer but the pattern is the same.' " (RITY, pp. 91-92)
    A piaster is an old European and Turkish coin.
    Sweet again:  "The violin-playing monitor mixer was named Jim Jacobs and he had a habit of incessantly playing a tape of Bob Dylan's 'Visions of Johanna' through Steely Dan's sound system before gigs, a custom Becker and Fagen would refer to in 'Doctor Wu'.... 'All night long/We would sing that stupid song' referred to Dylan's 'Visions of Johanna.' (RITY, p. 66)

Ruby Baby (GB, 9/14/96):  I've always liked the way [Mr. Fagen] pronounces his Rs.  And Os.... But who is this Dr. Wu?  He is the narrator of the song.  You see, some women tend to destroy the men who fall in love with them.  The poor guys never find out 'till it's too late.  Anyway, Katy tried....And I strongly suspect Dr. Wu is now using.  But there is a 3rd person, the one to whom he is talking.  She's a woman from his past that has come back into his life somehow.  She adores him, but she is like Eponine to him.  She's there for him if he would just open his eyes.  His eyes, however, are too full of Katy so he doesn't really notice her, which is why we can imagine his surprise when he saw her just as he woke up from his Biscayne Bay dream.  And for once, she's come at a time when he realizes he needs her (for now).  So it's she that is always singing to him, "Are you with me Dr. Wu?...Has she finally got to you.....Can you hear me Dr.?"  BTW:  Dr. Wu isn't his real name.  It's a nickname she gave him a long time ago.

Dr. Mu (GB, 9/15/96):  I am intrigued by Ruby's theory.  Dr. Wu was a detective in the movies.  He lost this case.

Countzir0 (GB, 7/22/98):  Listening to Dr. Wu.... In my mind I picture a couple of guys who are regulars in some darkly lit bar, getting obliterated.  And Dr. Wu's been having trouble with a bad breakup with one of his girlfriends, and Wu is drunk to the point of falling off the barstool.  Fagen sorta slaps him on the face and says, "are you with me doctor?  are you with me doctor???"  But I can't tell if the lyrics are written from a male or female perspective.  It just presents such a vivid picture in my mind....

David Arnold (Digest, 2/21/99):  Quintessential Dan admixture of cynicism, despair, hope, and ultimate redemption.

diggy (5/4/99): This story is in chronological order.  First, a man is down on his luck, "almost crucified", and Katy tries to help. She lifts him up. They sing a song of joy and love.   Katy falls for dope (Doctor Wu) and her man becomes just a shadow now - not so important to her anymore. Her love is now for dope.   Man waits for Katy. He doesn't know about her new "love". He searches the city looking for her. Even looks in the slums (the bay).  He longs for the fun, "tastes", and songs of love they used to sing together, but she never comes. He finally finds her. Katy lies, because she never intended to meet him. She is with Doctor Wu and is "high" on
him. The man is surprised to see her in that condition and not caring enough to even meet him.   The last verse flips back and forth with perspective  to who is talking. "Are you with me Doctor Wu......" is her talking to her dope.  But "she is lovely yes she's sly......" is probably the man's friend consolling him and saying that she got to him and that he is only human. The last line is Katy repeatedly talking to her new love.   It is a story of new love broken apart by a drug addiction. He has to go on with his life -- and she falls deeper and deeper into her love
for Doctor Wu.

fezo (GB, 7/31/99): ...The angst in Dr. Wu sounds real. As real as any emotion in 11TOW. I haven't heard Wu in awhile so this interpretation may be     tainted by time lapse but that whole song almost aches with failed redemption. At the beginning there's hope for the nararrator; he'll get the girl, he'sget the drugs, whatever it is he needs to feel redeemed. But at the end Katy fails him. Fagen "could see it in her eyes" and his vocal on that line alone sounds like actual pain; not an actor simulating it.

David (Newsgroup, 1/14/00):  I remember hearing as a 16 year old "I was waiting for the taste you said you'd bring to me." That suddenly explained so much to me about both the joy and pain of loving someone.

tom (GB, 4/26/00): Tom Robbins - Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas
     now the story is about coincidences out of control in the life of one young femme fatale stockbroker when the market crashes right before Good Friday (I know it happened a week earlier but hey, run with me)
     anyway on page 51 the illustrious writer of the Northwest dispells meaning or pulls one's chain on the meaning of the word Wu.
     straight from the asian Dr Yamaguchi speak ing in his foriegn tongue here goes ...
     "does a dog have a Buddha-nature?" To that, Master Joshua was said to answer, "Wu".
     "Now, please, wu is in Chinese language a negative response. Negative. "No," yes? But the word have many fine shades of meaning. Many nuance. So, depending upon inflection, subtle nuance in pronunciation, wu could mean 'absolutely not' or 'probably not' or 'possibly not' or 'usually not.' Could mean emphatic 'no' or could mean 'Am rather inclined to doubt it.'
     "so, for 1200 years, scholars have argue. Exactly what did Master Joshua intend by wu? What inflection, what shade of meaning? Twelve hundred years, they argue and argue. But I am here to tell you." Lang Pause. No tap. Dr Yamaguchi is, in fact, gripping the Bic with both hands.
     "when ask if dog have budda-nature, master did not answer 'Wu'. That is big misunderstanding. When ask if dog have Buddha-nature, master answer 'wuf.'

the inimitable Hoops! (Digest, 5/21/00):  A popular interpretation is that Dr. Wu is a Coke dealer (diet and classic, is there any other kind?  Oh, Cherry!) and Katy is Coca Cola incarnated as a seductive woman who ultimately is untrue.
    The character singing the song is a caffeine addict and popaholic.  He can't stop his Coke habit!
    However, personally, I think "Dr. Wu" was the orginal theme from  the pilot for the sequel series to  "Kung Fu."
    Now a sitcom,  "Dr. Wu" features Keith Carradine as Dr. Caine "Grasshopper" Wu, a western small town  Doctor who cures his patients using  strange and unusual Kung Fu moves, and, who else but Betty White, as his compulsively lying and always sarcastic nurse assistant, Katy.  Laughs galore!
    Thursdays at 8 This Fall--on CBS after "Diagnosis: Murder."

Dogmatic Dave (GB, 7/7/00):  No matter what B&F say Dr. Wu is a real person. I always interpreted the song to be a about a guy dying in a hospital and being revived by Dr. Wu. (I was on the other side of no tomorrow. You walked in and my life began again.)  However, as he starts to recover he feels that Dr. Wu is falling for his wife (has she finally got to you?) and begins to wonder if Dr. Wu is really trying to save him (have you done all you can do?) or is going to let him die so he can get at his wife. Listen to the fade out as Donald screams "can you HEAR me doctor" he's dying.

wormtom (GB, 7/10/00):   Dr WU a real person? I always thought he was an alter ego of the protagonist. Dr Wu being his alter personality when he finally lets go to all he is clinging to or when he is mildly altered on drugs (the boys left it nicely vague)
     The "you walked in and my life began again" refers to the woman that has so whooed (Wu'd?) him. One of only a few women portrayed positively in Dan tunes

steviedan (GB, 8/12/00):  like many of you, dr. wu is probably my all time favorite sd tune (wasn't it no. 1 in st. al's poll ?). we used to do the tune alot, not as often lately as our playing circumstances more often call for ten minute versions of "Strokin'".  Musically, the feel of it to me has always been a love song. love of SOMETHING. Heroin ? Chinese takeout ? A woman? An asian proctologist ? I'm apparently just not sure but you know ? It does not matter. It's monumental in it's vagueness. The musical content, however, is totally deliberate and defines the compositional traits of B&F.

Nat & Al Enquirer (newsgroup, 1/13/01):  We always assumed that the name had the double meaning:
 1. Katy said something that wasn't true.
 2. Grasshopper Song (lied is German for art or folk song)
 We thought the cover made it pretty blatant.

DrJ (2/5/01):  katy ends up in a place that she didn't intend to be at the start when her intentions were romanticized naiveté

> Katy tried
> I was halfway crucified
> I was on the other side
> Of no tomorrow

i get that Katy initially helps the "voice" through short-term withdrawal [half-way crucified...] along the lines of 'just one more hit for now and i'm gonna kick first thing tomorrow'?, but-   she is not a junky herself as the tale begins.  she approaches with an experimental nature, flirting with the dark side but not necessarily aware of the dangerous dance with dr wu who is not only the dope personified but the "relationship" one has with the dope, with others, AND
with others who do dope!... intensified to what i'll call "interpersonification".

> You walked in
> And my life began again
> Just when I'd spent the last piaster
> I could borrow
> All night long

but he's broke. so who buys the dope???!!!  some wonder waif in her experimental phase, maybe?  i think ya.

> We would sing that stupid song
> And every word we sang
> I knew was true

not so.  he's telling himself the same lie over and over and somewhere in there he *knows* it but doesn't care. self-absorbed like a good self-loathing junkie, destructive [but what a great way to go, the pomp, the circumstances, the ritual of hitting up]  he is not in control, though the song they sing might suggest otherwise...
can this be the perfect relationship?  the junky has the shit he needs [today] and he gets the girl, too?  and she isn't giving him grief... to kick, to choose
between them... come on Robbie, tell me who do you love?

Are you with me Doctor Wu
> Are you really just a shadow
> Of the man that I once knew
> Are you crazy are you high
> Or just an ordinary guy
> Have you done all you can do
> Are you with me Doctor

dope is "interpersonified".  his pal the dr may not be the be all end all after all if he can be stolen away by katy

> Don't seem right
> I've been strung out here all night
> I've been waiting for the taste
> You said you'd bring to me
> *Where the hell's Katy?*

bingo, table 4!
where the hell is katy indeed...   could she be out 'cheating on him'?!!!

> Biscayne Bay
> Where the Cuban gentlemen sleep all day
> I went searching for the song
> You used to sing to me
> *Direct reference to the "serenade" of the fix*

lovely, ya.  i see a little white boat bobbing around in the cuban breeze like an opiated lullaby... a pipe dream with a flaccid spinnaker?

> Katy lies
> You could see it in her eyes
> But imagine my surprise
> When I saw you
> *I can't trust Katy - but what's this?*

where has she been all this time i've been here fondling my works, chewing on the the end of a rubber tube between my teeth, hitting my outstretched arm all night to ready that thin blue line... and more importantly...

why are her eyes like little pin holes???
> Are you with me Doctor Wu
> Are you really just a shadow
> Of the man that I once knew
> She is lovely yes she's sly
> And you're an ordinary guy
> Has she finally got to you
> Can you hear me Doctor

you say she has "stolen" Dr.Wu from him... maybe "deprived" him is more accurate... undertones of the spoiled relationship he had with his own Dr... and now Katy returns with parasympathetic evidence [that's doogie howser talk].  She has cheated on him!  She's gotten off with the Dr, who [interpersonified] has been  faithful... and he has fallen for Katy!
sick, ain't it?
But, bottom line- i think  that Katy is into the shit now; she is through feeding off of the strung out 'voice' and now could really care less about him  to spare even a little taste like the ones that introduced her to the doctor to begin with
 She's been out all night getting fucked up without him and there's nothing left ... he can't believe it's true.  He wails at the personified Dr Wu as though Katy's allure affects the relationship they had... like she got between him and his best friend and the best friend ain't interested in him no more...  oh, i could go
on, but there it is.i think she'd rather shoot him up with crushed aspirin at this pooint so there would be more for her... she hasn't "gotten to" the doctor at all [that's his interpersonified delusion].  it is very, VERY much the other way around.

finally, katy's lie goes like this:  "i wasn't able to score".

she's a junkie now and would lie to/sell out her own mother in a heartbeat.  you can see it in her beady little opiated eyes.

Nat & Al (newsgroup, 1/17/01):  We think you are splitting hairs and that the meaning was implicit in the statement we made, but we will conceded the point and amend further the first of our two superficial observation:
    1. Katy said something that she knew was false, with the intention of deceiving....
   Actually, Dr. Wu is informed that Katy LIES, so it is an ongoing condition.  Also, you could see it in her eyes, so she isn't very good at it.  Sounds like she has a "tell."  Does the past tense of the album title suggest that it is all in the past?  When they say: "Katy Lied" are they including all her past dishonesties?  Is she reformed....or dead....or no longer in communication with the protagonist?  We know that at the time of the song, she was lovely, yes, she was sly.
   You think YOU'RE overanalyzing?  THAT'S overanalyzing, mate! (apologies to Paul Hogan).

The Charmer (newsgroup, 1/17/01):  well now doctor...
 my interpretation is that it isn't a singular lie, per se...
 in the song, he says. "katy lies", if i hear it correctly.... so i believe that katy has a predeliction to lying all the time.  and if you know what to look for, you can see it in her eyes every time she does.

LabDude (newsgroup, 1/21/01):   Hell...it dont take a rocket scientist or a Heroin junkie waiting for his lady to bring that "taste" she promised, to figure out this beautiful piece of prose!

Wyvern Rider (7/29/01):  I know this goes against basically all other interpretations of this song, but it came to me after listening to "Dr. Wu" for the umpteenth time.  I don't mean to suggest that D&W intended this meaning, but it is interesting.
    The main idea is this:  "Dr. Wu" can be interpreted as a retelling of Arthurian legend.
    The narrator is King Arthur, "Dr. Wu" is Launcelot, and "Katy" is Queen Guinevere.
    In the beginning, Arthur's kingdom of Camelot is in jeopardy of being wiped out unless he gets more military help."I was halfway crucified . . . I was
on the other side of no tomorrow."   Guinevere tries to help her husband, "Katy tried", but what Arthur needs is a warrior.
    Enter Launcelot.  Traditionally he was Arthur's greatest warrior, and he helps revive Arthur's army.  "You walked in, and my life began again.  Just when I'd spent the last piaster I could borrow"  Piasters- maybe Launcelot has helped financially as well.  Not mentioned in the legends but possible.
    As a side note, in many myths Launcelots first act upon entering Camelot was to save a dying man's life.  Hence, a literal interpretation of "You walked in, and my life began again", although use of "my" means it's probably Arthur speaking figuratively.
    Now comes the "Golden Age" of Camelot.  Things are good, Arthur, Guinevere, and Launcelot are all best friends "All night long, we would sing that
stupid song". It's some worthless minstrel tune, but they are such good friends that everthing seems wonderful.
    And now of course, the fall into darkness.  Arthur begins to suspect that Guinever and Launcelot are more than just good friends, and he questions
Launcelot's priorities.  "Are you really just a shadow of the man that I once knew?" He is initially angry "Are you crazy, are you high?" this is not a literal question, he's just insulting Launcelot, but soon Arthur calms down when he remembers his own failings. "Or just an ordinary guy" - i.e. his sins are no worse than Arthur's.  The next line "Have you done all you can do" is eerily similar to dialogue in an Arthur book I have, where Launcelot is confessing something to the extent of  "We have tried our hardest, my lord.  We have done all we can do, but we cannot keep away from each other"
    The lovers of course promise to end the affair immediatly, and in the aftermath Guinevere finds great enjoyment in hawking, going out to hunt with her trained hawk.  Although Arthur waits for her back at Camelot "I was waiting for the taste you said you'd bring to me" -of whatever she hunts- , he may be waiting a while, i.e. "strung out here all night", because Guinevere and Launcelot are trysting in the forest.
    Don't ask me how the lines about Cuban gentlemen and Biscayne Bay fit in, because they don't at all.  For the record, I personally don't even really like those lines within a more standard interpretation.
    Of course in the end everything comes out.  Arthur reminisces of good times "I went searching for the song you used to sing to me" - this is him remembering the good old days.  In reality, however, he is faced with brutal truths that his best friends have betrayed him "Katy lies, you can see it in her eyes". Arthur sentences her to burn at the stake, but Launcelot and his brothers, now outlaws, ride up, save the Queen and ride off.  "Imagine my surprise when I saw you" - when he saw armed horsemen charging through the gates.
    The final verse tells of the final battle between Camelot and the forces of evil (Mordred, for anyone who cares).  Arthur is outnumbered, but former friend Launcelot has pledged to send his newfound French army to assist Arthur, which will not arrive to the site, however, for two days.  Of course, battle is provoked that day, and the song ends with Arthure lying on the battlefield, wounded, in a delirium of sorts, crying out to his former best friend, forgiving his adultery "She is lovely, yes she's sly, and you're an ordinary guy" and then crying out to ask if he and his army have arrived yet.  "Are you with me, doctor?"
    Camelot is destroyed, Arthur is taken away to Avalon, an island place out of time (hmmm . . . Time out of mind?). Launcelot's forces arrive too late to do any good, Guinevere becomes a nun.  Go figure.
    Anyway, just thought some of you might be interested in this new interpretation.

Liu Chang (her brother) (10/23/01):   In the video game Fallout, a post-apocalyptic adventure, you have to storm the stronghold of a nutty nuclear cult.  In the infirmary is a man in a monk's robe, flipping a knife in the air.  If you talk to him, he is revealed to be 'Dr. Wu.'  Further conversation reveals that not only does he have control of the pharmaceuticals, but he performs euthanasia on troublemakers.  I've never seen a video game character call you an asshole so much!

Henry (4/26/02):  Katie is the addiction of you choice - drugs, gambling, liquor... (Katie tried - to kill me, I was on the other side...)
    Wu was the shrink (or friend or clergyman or teacher) that helped this guy back to some "normalcy" (You walked in, and my life began again).  Guy buys into the program. We sang the  stupid song (all the stupid sounding mantras chanted in the 12 step groups - "My name is Jorge and I'm an alchoholic.")
    The twist (required in Dan tunes) is that our protagonist runs across the Dr. hooked on the above mentioned poison. (Imagine my surprise... Are you really just shadow... has she finally got to you).
    So anyway, the patient hooks up with the Dr. for a binge. The Dr. has gone a little futher than the patient this time 'round. (Are you with me Dr. ...) I can see the scene now -"Hey man wake up - this don't look good... oh shit... man are you breathing... fuck... hey man snap out of it... If you don't wake up I'm gonna leave your ass right here in the street.)
    Biscayne bay is visible from at least four drug and alchohol treatment centers.

last visible dog (10/30/02):  It occurred to me yesterday that "halfway crucified" means: with a spike in one arm ...

Si Non (1/15/03):  Hmmm methinks "Dr. Wu" is heroin personified. The alter-ego the narrator reaches for when under its influence.  Similar to, but not quite in the same vein (sorry,bad pun) as "in the night you'll hide from the mad amn you're longing to be..." (hatww) Intersting also,the quasi-religous messages which seem to float amorphouly around the edges of a lot of SD songs. ( "I was halfway crucified) IF so,"son,you'd better be ready for 'love' (panacea to all of lifes ills? the ultimate seductress perhaps?) Mebbe so Mebbe!

Reelin' In The Years, by Brian Sweet

"Everyone's Gone To The Movies"

    This is a superb example of the Steely technique of weaving warped or surreal content into a perky, upbeat tune.

    Mr. LaPage seems to be a rank and evil guy who seduces naive young teens by showing them ratty porn on his home Super 8 projector (many of you may not even remember those noisy little things)--thus "sorry we only have eight" millimeter frames, rather than sixteen.  He waits until responsible adults are out of the picture, then invites you to "take off your cheaters" (glasses).  Now why would you take off your glasses to see a movie?  Duh.... Unless you're over forty.

fezo north (GB, 6/9/98):  I thought the line... was "take off your sneakers" thus making it easier for the chinos to come off later.

    I especially love the "Come on..." interplay with that beckoning sax--makes me think of a snake's tongue flickering.

    I wonder if the locution "projection machine" is another nod to Nathanael West.  In The Day Of The Locust, the protagonist tags along with some Hollywood swells to a brothel ("nautch joint") where they watch a soft-porn film on a balky "projection machine."  This, along with "cheaters," is old slang dating from the '30's.

    Any ideas on Mr. LaPage's name?  Twist on Anton LaVey, the well-known Satanist?

stevevdan (GB, 8/11/98):  It is definitely about some pedophile...and I think it was originally intended for 'Can't Buy A Thrill' which was to have an album cover that tied in with it (i.e. a pedophile leering at a little girl) [see 'New Times' interview from circa 1976 where Becker and Fagen mention original CBAT artwork}....

Myra Eyefull (GB, 8/11/98):  Well since I investigate sexual abuse for a living, the song... really drops alot of suggestive remarks that gives me the impression that Mr. LaPage is a pedophile.  Many pedophiles are likable fun people who engage their prey with fun things to do.  They call their sexual acts "games" that are not to be shared with other adults.  Mr. LaPage seems to be saying, he will show these porno films and then while the others are out, he will teach the child a "new game" to play.  In other words, he will molest the child and perhaps tale his own movies of the acts to be sold for a child pornography ring.

Rose Darling (GB, 8/11/98) (hum to "Just a Gigolo")  "Just a pedophile, always wears a smile, but Dan fans know the game he's playing..."

Mock Turtle (GB, 8/12/98):  I have always interpreted Mr. LaPage as a full-blown child molester.  Are you sure it's "soon you will be eighteen," and not "soon you will be a teen"?  Also, the "sixteen or more" fits in with this;  while most people are attracted to people 16+, LaPage goes for eight-year-olds.

Roy.Scam (GB, 8/19/98):  We seem to have forgotten that the focus of the song is on the two people left in the room ("..now we're alone at last.")  Mr Lapage and the movies are just an excuse to clear out the other youngsters so that some love-prone guy can put a move on his 17 year old object of admiration, a la Billie J. Kramer's "Little Children".  The narrator may even be underaged himself.  With all apologies to my favorite social worker, whether this is sleezy or not lies in the perceptions of the listener.--The fact that we don't have enough apples to stage a decent apple bob is a quickly improvised lame excuse to disperse the crowd.*  Those movies might be about trout fishing in Quebec.
    ...* In all honesty, "I know you're used to 16 or more;  sorry I only have 8." doesn't sound like a very effective pick up line.

Deanoooooh (1/16/99): I feel it's really about "everyone's come to the movies".  That is to say all of Mr. LaPage's "friends" have come over.  "Now we're alone at last," we being Mr. LaPage's secret little group, himself included.  the we suggests that they all share a common bond, in this case a sick one.  There is no daddy and mama in this little game, only we.
    I appreciate all you "well-wishers" who are trying to find an innocent meaning in this song, but I think deep down we all know that this song's subject matter is every bit as disturbing as it appears on the surface.
    And yet I can't stop singing it.

tom (GB, 2/9/00):  is the narrator of the song really one of the participants (actually female) who has the hots for one of the young studs?
     the boys always take an interesting angle in the bigger picture

Daddy G (GB, 2/11/00):  On Cheaters:  “Cheaters,” is another word for glasses — but you don’t hear it much anymore. I always wondered why you would “take off your cheaters” if you were going to see a movie. The only thing I could come up with was that it might be a metaphor for “take off your rose-colored glasses,” in other words, “let me show you how things really are.”

wormtom (GB, 5/3/00):  the "soon you will be 18" refers to of legal age then to work professionally in cheap porn
     the "16 or more, sorry we only have 8" refers to milimeters of film. The cheap porn was shot on 8mm and 16 mm handycams

NotMyNancy (GB, 5/3/00):  Isn't there a double entendre about "used to 16 OR MORE...sorry we only have 8"? Apropos of a decadent porno motif?
     Like, the last scene in Boogie Nights?

SD Bob (5/10/00):  While reading others thoughts on this song, something triggered a long-lost memory. I was in high school from the mid to late 60's. In those days, the girls wore skirts or dresses, pants were not allowed. Under those skirts, many girls wore what I think are called Pettipants. Think of bicycle pants, but made of a silky or nylon material and you'll get the idea. I presume they were worn to prevent exposure of their panties on a windy day or during an "accidental" pencil drop by one of us guys in the classroom.  Anyway, the guys didn't call them pettipants; they called them "beaver cheaters", for obvious reasons. I think since Don & Walt are about my age, that this is probably what they had in mind when they came up with the line "take off your cheaters and sit right down".

Jim B (Digest, 5/19/00):
    >  Soon it will be too late
    >  bobbing for apples can wait
    >  we know you're used to sixteen or more
    >  sorry we only have eight

   I've interpreted it to be the message of a sleaze-ball supplier of child-porn to some customer saying "'sorry we only have eight' kids for you to survey."
    Now THIS is dastardly. But what a great hook. That's the Steely conundrum.

Earl Reed (Digest, 5/19/00):  My favorite interpretation (and possibly the right one) is inches of a certain body organ. It probably makes the most sense Steelywise, since it seems that there's a lot of funny business going on at his place. The more traditional thought would be apples in the tub. But would D+W be so straightforward? I don't think so:)

BADsnkrs (Digest, 5/19/00):  Mr Lapage was  the known source where adolescent curiosity met celluloid reality.

The Fez (12/27/01):  I believe that the reference to 'Mr. LaPage' is to LaPage airplane glue that kids in the 60's and 70's used to build plastic models.  Some brilliant person realized that you could get a cheap high by inhaling the stuff.  The pedophile in the song is going to get the unsuspecting child high on the glue before the fun begins. Oh, and by the way, cheaters are another name for sneakers. Once
off, the pants can be easily dropped.

Rajah (GB, 1/14/04): .... Now I was told another defintion of "cheaters". The lady who faux-finished my kitchen a few years back was also a stripper at an oldtime place in Hollywood called, "Jumbo's Clown Room," a venue which offers a decidedly satiric presentation of the striptease as we used to call it in gentler days before the ladies commenced displaying their nether regions in a manner more reminiscent of an OB/GNY exam than a piquant enticement and she informed me that the tiny little short-shorts' style underwear/pants which are ubiquitous if you go to a club or if you open a ladies' lingerie catalogue (Victoria's Secret is the standard) these days used to be known in the old days, she being a lady of a certain age shall we say, as "cheaters". Before the thong, before the bikini bottoms came the "cheaters". So taking off your cheaters and sitting right down to watch a movie would seem to lend a whole new shade of meaning if viewed in this light to "Everyone's Gone to the Movies". Yes, the Rajah is also a scholar of the history of ladies undergarments. Was there ever any doubt?

The Day Of The Locust, by Nathanael West.  If the last time you read this was in freshman English, try it again;  it's amazing.  For other West links, see "My Old School" and "Deacon Blues."
                   "Less Than Zero," by Elvis Costello, on "My Aim Is True"--similar theme on a much later release.

"Your Gold Teeth II"

To me, this is the reprise to "YGT" of a man (/two men) who has (/have) lived twenty years in the two between "Countdown To Ecstasy" and "Katy Lied."  He's been rolled and played a few times himself, but has come out with a little more perspective--"YGT" was a cynical vignette, but "YGT II" has become anthemic, in the company of "Sign In Stranger" and "Deacon Blues."  It starts with a soaring observation of youth's exuberant mystery, maybe a reference to Burroughs, but it could just as well be the Dharma Bums, hippies, or any counterculture.  And with an eerily prescient "why do you tremble each time they pass by?" which describes the Whiteman's discomfiture when passed on the street by some underachieving hoodlum (you know who you are), but can conjure up any inner city street where a cruising car is a signal to take cover.  Then, the narrator goes on to take a detached view of the gamble:  "Who are these strangers who pass through the door/ Who cover your action and go you one more?"  Someone's always pushing you a little harder than you're ready for.  "If you're feeling lucky you'd best not refuse/  It's your game, the rules are your own, win or lose":  he's no longer a victim in a tawdry drama, but has realized his own power--and obligation-- to play the game his way.  He's become a rueful commentator on life's lessons:  "the answer they reveal/  Life is unreal."  For me, the image of the gold teeth also evokes the barrels of gold fillings and jewelry collected by the Nazis in the Holocaust--a gamble the Jews lost in a horrific way.

Little Cringemaker (6/30/00): Here’s my interpretation of Your Gold
Teeth II.

          Who are these children
          Who scheme and run wild
          Who speak with their wings
          And the way that they smile
          What are the secrets
          They trace in the sky
          And why do you tremble
          Each time they ride by

      When I hear Your Gold Teeth II, I think of the autistic, aphasiac, and developmentally disabled kids I knew in high school riding the short little school bus along with them when I was on crutches during a long recovery after a car accident. I also think of emotionally disturbed children living in group homes who go just about everywhere in vans.
      These kids scheme and run wild. Their schemes are very superficial "I want toast, a ball, those shoes," for the former and the later are continually seek opportunities to go AWOL or engage in "inappropriate" behavior that the supervising staff are always on the lookout for i.e.. "cutting," "acting out sexually," "provoking behaviors," "fighting," "smoking,"etc.
      The children in the former group speak with their wings as some often cannot speak and make vigorous movements with their arms or just smile.  The latter group tends to be subdued as they are often heavily medicated and smile more than exert themselves and generally lack the ability to verbalize their feelings in socially acceptable ways.
      The secrets they trace in the sky are the mysteries of their impenetrable thoughts and brains.  And why do you tremble each time they ride by? (The operative “ride” is that they are riding by in one of those short school buses or vans) You
tremble because you think "What if that were me?," "Could that be me?," and is yet another example of what a crap shoot life is.

          Throw out your gold teeth
          And see how they roll
          The answer they reveal
          Life is unreal

      The gold teeth are metaphorical of  die and gambling, and perhaps are figurative of the last possessions of value one may have left when one has nothing, but for the thin gold coverings on one's teeth. And, indeed, what is real is perceptually relative depending on the state of one's brain/mind, whether temporarily or permanently.

          Who are these strangers
          Who pass through the door
          Who cover your action
          And go you one more
          If you're feeling lucky
          You best not refuse
          It's your game the rules
          Are your own win or lose

      This verse strikes me as observations made by a of psychiatric patient.  This individual observes the staff & doctors coming and going, who, in turn, observe the patient and nudge him gently along in regaining his bearings and functioning. The patient then realizes that the rules of life are his to make and that success and failure again are relative and dependent on perception. The patient simply intuits that what is most important is that one engages in the game of life real or not.

f#maj (GB, 1/3/01):  on first listen to ygt2 i recall visions of "Childhood's End" dancing on the synapses in my brain.

lp (GB, 1/3/01):  i thought of The Hobbit myself on ygtII -

Fretless (GB, 8/24/01):  Analogies

     YGT:YGTII as

     a) we are so real:life is unreal
     b) dental floss:mental floss
     c) ballah:yoda
     d) peer pressure:pressured peers
     e) stalactite:stalagmite

Doc Gonzo (10/28/02): Just some random thoughts while waking up on a freezing Michigan morning and mulling "Your Gold Teeth II" ... to me, this sounds like someone who once lived near an Air Force base ... they watched daredevil young pilots "speak with their wings" and "trace secrets in the sky" ... and looked at up at the sky to "tremble each time they ride by" in their supersonic jets (sound barrier being broken?).
    Obviously, jet pilots are daredevils with a penchant for gambling and reckless fun, hence the tossing of "gold teeth" or dice.
    Fagan and Becker get off on their 1950s reflections of life, so it's possible one of them hung around a base somewhere during the height of the Cold War (an issue explored in depth on "Night Fly").

"Sign In Stranger," on "The Royal Scam"
                     "Deacon Blues," on "Aja"
                     "Your Gold Teeth," on "Countdown to Ecstasy"
                Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke

"Chain Lightning"

    Lots of fever dreaming around this one.  Brian Sweet quotes Mr. Becker as saying, "No one will ever touch 'Chain Lightning.' "  (RITY, p. 92)  However, the authors didn't just close the door.  Later, Sweet reports, Mr. Fagen said that he had considered putting in a clue, but " 'even the clue wouldn't have helped.... I'll tell you what the clue was.  In the guitar break just before the second verse, I was gonna say, 'Forty years later,' but we decided it wasn't a good musical idea.' "  (ibid.)  And then, several years later, Mr. Fagen "finally admitted that 'Chain Lightning' in their minds described a 'visit by two guys to a fascist rally.'  Given Fagen's supposed fascination with Hitler, it came as no surprise--and they had talked flippantly several times about composing a song about his beer-hall putsch in Munich in November of 1923."  (ibid.)

    So as you listen to the picture unfold, you can see the two characters exulting in a huge turnout at a rally ("a hundred grand"), trying to keep their cool as they approach their hero, and in their blind zeal admonishing each other not to "bother to understand" or to "question the little man," who could certainly be Hitler or any of a number of short famous fascists.  "Be part of the brotherhood" could refer to Hitler's Aryan Brotherhood.  After the guitar break, the pair have returned to the site of their erstwhile glory, to stand "just where he stood," in a later era when fascists are no longer in their heyday.  This time they have to be careful not to draw attention to themselves.

    What's even better about these lyrics, despite the hints that Messrs. Fagen and Becker eventually gave, is their timelessness and the associations listeners derive.  They take a sharp dig at any political movement which strives to turn its followers into sheep (Let's see.... Are there any that don't?).

    I used to think that "the little man" was the narrator's jazz hero, whom he was approaching after a concert.  Here are some other resonations, including a brilliant take on the "chain lightning" image:

Richard Baird (Digest, 12/22/97):  Images come to mind of Nazi parades, the un-thinking masses, believing the propaganda without questioning the little man (Hitler) and wanting to be part of the master race "brotherhood."
    The imagery isn't nearly as clear with... [the second] verse, but I take it maybe [as] a statement on how... anyone could possibly think that what went on in Germany during those dark years could now be considered cool--i.e. the current growth in popularity, both here and abroad, of neo-nazi groups.
    One last image--Chain Lightning--think of the emblem worn by the Nazi SS troops--two lightning bolts.

John Moore (Digest, 12/26/97):  I think you're right, Rick.  I came to much the same conclusion, with one other idea.  Critics interpreted Pretzel Logic as being about Hitler (who idealized napoleon), and DF and WB vehemently denied it.
    The first few notes of Chain Lightning and Pretzel Logic are, to my non-musician's ear, identical--even the same key.  Maybe Donald and Walter thought, "They think Pretzel Logic was about Nazis, we'll give them a real song about Nazis," and write one not just about the rise of Nazism in the Thirties (the 100-grand turnout at the National Socialist party rally documented in Triumph of the Will), but in the final verse, the resurgence of it in Germany 40 years later, with twisted pilgrims "standing just where he stood."

diggy (5/4/99):   From a scientific point of view, a "chain" reaction is a rapid series of events - each initiating the next. I view chain lightning as a constant and rapid series of flash bulbs going off in the crowd of a Hitler rally. What captures the image of fame and power better than a massive volly of flashes directed at society's famous
elite. I don't know if there were a lot of cameras at Hitler's rallies, (I doubt it) but the chain reaction of lightning flashes drives home the realization that Hitler was a famous and powerful man in his era.  and you know he loved it, "chain lightning it feels soooo gooood."

sooutrageous (4/14/00):  this song IS cryptic and does indeed have some kind of pseudo-message not freely evident in the narrative. i think this song is about "the manhattan project" where oppenheimer, einstein and their minions worked feverishly on the "Bomb".
    ~"some turn out, a hundred grand", speaks to the crowds amassed to watch the plume-like spectre of the first nuclear-detonation. there are picture in las vegas of miles of spectators lined along mountain crests replete with ari-onassis sunglasses watching the sun-bright pyrotechnics.(sp)
    ~"don't question the litle man", oppenheimer was extremely small in stature, but ruled the "project" with a hermetically-clean iron fist. his word was law. he answered to no one.
    ~"hush brother, we cross the square" could possibly refer to the wonderful fountain square on the quad at the university of chicago where much of the preliminary work on the bomb was conducted.
    ~"don't trouble the midnight air"; the detonations occured at night; sometimes quite late. (don't worry, we're far enough away you're in absolutely no danger. nuclear fallout; what's that? this wonderful invention will be the most humane peace-keeping device known to man!)
    ~the cryptic out-take line; "40 years later" sort of puts this concept in some sort of spatial/historical context. Becker said that they purposely omittted that particular line because it would point the way to the truth and that truth, in this particular instance, was way out of hand.
    the term "chain lightning" is simply a play on the "chain-reaction" phenom that is evident in nuclear-reaction-physics....  i'm no rocket scientist but chew on that twisted take for awhile.

tones (GB, 5/1/01):  "Chain Lightning" was originally called "Chain Lighting" and was about those big 70's hanging lamps everyone had in their den with the chain that ran down the electrical cord. "It was Chain Lighting, it looks so goooooood..." I read somewhere they changed the lyrics at at last minute so the song wouldn't be rooted forever in the '70's, in case the lamps went out of style.

Dr. Mu (GB, 5/1/01):  While doing the demos, they changed it to Chained Lightning for a while and massaged the lyrics to fit the burgeoning S&M scene. Then the ugly rumors emerged re: Rick Derringer and they resorted back to old standbys: Naughty Nazis

Edd (GB, 5/2/01):  Those of you interested in pursuing the Nazi angle to "Chain Lightning" might be interested in the insignia used by Hitler's "Elite Guard" (SS). It doesn't take much imagination to see two lighning bolts, or links of "chain lightning"...

Dr. Mu (GB, 5/2/01):  Here's something scary on the Chain Lighting vein. The Milky Way, long thought to be a nice, pretty spiral galaxy may actually be a bar galaxy. A double-bar galaxy has been proposed. I'll let your minds "draw" your conclusions as to a pictoral representation of its true shape. Couldn't find a decent related site - but here's one that's OK

Reelin' In The Years, by Brian Sweet

"Any World"

    What a great song of longing by someone who wants to fly to a world where he actually will fit in.  I especially like "Where the days and nights are not the same/ Captured happy in a picture frame"--I can see frozen images of pseudo-happiness framed like pinned butterflies on the wall, in perpetual fakey sunlight, like the lighting at the beginning of "Blue Velvet."

"Throw Back The Little Ones"

    This sounds to me like a white boy who gets lost in the wrong neighborhood, and is petrified that he's going to get jumped as he frantically tries to find a cab outta there.  He tries the cool pose--tries to look like he belongs there--but can picture neighborhood kingpins looking at him like a prize trout, weighing whether to throw him back--let him go, or "pan fry" him--mug the hell out of him.  In this situation, one's prized "hot licks and rhetoric don't count much for nothing."  He virtually sells his soul "for a ride uptown" and relative safety, consoling himself that he can "buy it back tomorrow."  Maybe....

    The second verse?  Beats me, but it's another image of a man facing a powerful and unpredictable threat, this time the matador and bull.  Then the shift back to the fish image, again away (and "up") somewhere far from all this adrenalin into dream (the little girls throwing roses, fly fishing in some peaceful stream in the Catskills) and retreat.

Doctor Mu (GB, 8/5/98): What if "Throw Back the Little Ones" were an allegory for the creative/recording/dissemination process of musical "product" in today's environ.  The "barrio" could be the LA recording studio.  "Hot licks and rhetoric don't count much for nothin...be glad if you can use what you borrow."  All that anal retentive attention to detail in the production, cusicianship, and lyrical content at the time were largely unnappreciated or not understood by their audience/fans.... "Done like a matador, I pray for the weekend and hope the little girls still throw roses."  The album is finished...we'll hit the road and play in fron of our adoring teeny bopper audience (at the time), if we're lucky.  No wonder they got off that rat treadmill.  "Pawn my crown and move* uptown:"  SD spent their own $$$ on recording equipment.  Didnot they finish some of the recordings back in New York?.... "Use tact, poise, and reason, and gently squeeze them."  This could refer to extracing the most out of a song, or dealing with studio musicians, getting the most out of them.... "throw back the little ones, and pany-fry the big ones."  The songs that don't quite pan-out because the songwriting or production is not quite what they wanted or were lookg for are tossed aside, while the "keepers" get the full Dan production values and treatment.  Notice they "throw back" the little ones, but don't toss'em in the trash.  Like any good fisherman, they could come back later and use parts or all of the songs (ex. "Any World"....

*it's "for a ride uptown."

diggy (5/4/99):   I have always thought this song was about a con man moving from area to area and making his money. He "walks" and "dances" like an "injun." Paints his face and acts like he belongs so he can run his scams unnoticed. He will "pawn" his crown, but has enough confidence in his skills to believe he'll make enough money to get it back tomorrow.   He doesn't want to collect from the little fish (poor) he wants to "pan fry the big ones" (rich) and "gently squeeze" their money out of them using trickery in language.   He "prays for the weekend" when the money is out there for the taking and plays his suckers for fools like a matador toying with the stupid beast. But is the little girs quit throwing roses, than they are on to his scheme and he must move on before the plucking season ends (possably the summer vacation months)

diggy revisited (9/17/99):   I think Dr. Mu may be on the mark on this one. In the first verse, the Dan must kiss up and play the political game with the record big shots. Becker and Fagen have also admitted they "barrow" licks and rhetoric" from musicians they admire. "Done like a matador" refers to the album finally being done - and it took a beating. They grill the good ones and save the songs that aren't quite to their liking yet.  They hope you like the album or they will have to change their style for the next album. I also like the fact that this set of lines are the last lines of the last song on the album.

Breck (7/20/02):
Remember, "Lied" is "Song" in German. "Katy" is the album's name for the Industry (here's another song about the industry disquised as a love song) and the bug on the cover of the disc is only more disguise.

"Lost in the Barrio I walk like an Injun
So Carlo won't suspect something's wrong here.
I dance in place and paint my face
And act like I belong here"

"Lost in the Barrio" - "The Barrio" is the hispanic slum in LA, but I've heard the phrase applied to ethic slums that were not hispanic. For our purposes let us consider it a run-down area where the prevailing... uh, "race" (I hate that term) is mostly in the singular. The singer is "lost" in it; he's not really part of it; he's even made a friend in it ("Carlo") who doesn't realize that he's not part of it. He "walks like an Injun" as part of his disguise.

Note the spelling: "Injun". That's traditional "cowboy" slang! Yes, that reoccuring theme. Steely Dan are cowboys. They're wearing a disquise of being just nutty incomprehensible "pop stars" writing quirky "open-ended" songs; that is, they're acting the way the "Injuns" want them to act; they're saying the things the "Injuns" want them to say. Of course they're silly nerds. Of course one needn't take their songs' meanings too seriously. Of course they hate touring. Of course (years later) they're running out of ideas for songs.

[ In "Gaucho" we have the Industry talking to their fans: "Bodacious {oh, the Industry knows how to talk that "cowboy talk"} cowboys, such as your friends will never be welcome here, high in the Custer Dome" -named after General Custer, of course! The music industry delights in killing artists and making them do what they want and then making money off of them ]

"Hot licks and rhetoric don't count much for nothing;
Be glad if you can use what you borrow.
So I pawn my crown for a ride uptown
and buy it back tomorrow."

The first line sums up the dilemma of any artist trying to win the ever uncomprehending audience's mind. It's a popular phrase. Hah! Kansas used it on one of their albums... "Point of Know Return", I believe it was. "Hot licks" -guitar licks, mostly- don't mean a lot when a stupid band like Kiss can make millions spitting fake blood and setting off about twenty flash pots in the course of an hour-long show (back when this album came out) (I don't know or care whatever it is they do nowadays). "Rhetoric"-well, album lyrics, of course. Pregnant with allusions but "open to any interpretation" saith the artists when the issue is brought up in interviews. Come on! Having obviously put so much work in their words, don't we think they'd at least want to discuss them?

"Be glad if you can use what you borrow" -There's penalties in the biz for being too original, that's why you have incredably talented artists continually copying artists from of old. And yet I've noticed that it often seems that artists are presented with one of two options: 1)Great music on the tours and weak music [comparitively speaking] on their discs; or 2) Great music on their discs and weaker music on their tours. Again and again I've noticed that it's either specialty bands that play to specialty audiences, or brand new bands that haven't been brought to heel yet, that make consistantly good albums / tours. But no band nowadays ever rises too far above the original promise shown on their first discs.

"...I pawn my crown for a ride uptown" is how Becker & Fagen describe this process. They hold back; nix the long jams on record or on tour, in order to placate their bosses; in the hope that when they have proven themselves as money makers they can "buy it back tomorrow."

"Done like a matador I pray for the weekend
And hope the little girls still throw roses
Else I change my bait and move upstate
Before the season closes."

"Like a matador", he says. He's not really one though he does what he needs to (apparently) keep his audience (who knows how wonderful music would be if artists did what they wanted?) The "little girls" are those teeny bops who nowadays make rich a handful of truly vapid "artists" -and their labels, who get the lion's share of the bucks. If his latest disguise doesn't work... Well, back in "the old days" artists often metamorphed themselves; the fans expected it. The music that T-Rex, the BeeGees, Pink Floyd, and many other bands (not to mention the Beatles) ended playing was a far cry from what they originally started out doing. But nowadays most artists seem to go all the way from A to B. Isn't it interesting that the palmier the days are for the industry, the tighter they are with the control? I'm not the only person who has remarked on that.

The chorus sums up the Rock Industry's attitude to artists:

"Throw back the little ones (So long Captain Beefheart, Gordon Lightfoot, Little Feet, Be-Bop Deluxe, etc etc etc)
and PAN FRY the big ones (make Aerosmith, for example, into just the mold you want)
Use tact, poise and reason and gently squeeze them." (Gently? I wouldn't count on it!)

I pocess an old issue of Guitar World that has a lengthy interview in it with Aerosmith -the whole band- talking about why there was such a long wait (something like four years) between their discs "Get A Grip" and "Nine Lives" (interesting title, by the way). Now this interview was done all smiley and nice without the least suggestion that Aerosmith could possibly be discontented with their lot, but the long and short of it was that Aerosmith within those four years had made an album, but Sony nixed it because it "didn't have that classic Aerosmith sound". Let's not miss this. Here we have executives telling a "bad boy" band that gosh, their new work just isn't "real" enough to suit them. And who are Aerosmith to question these faceless people? Quit? Get out? The article obliquely suggests that maybe they actually tried that. No no no no. You bad boys of rock. Our accountants are counting on you.