KEY WORDS:  unofficial
                       delusional, if not hallucinatory


Introductory notes
"Green Flower Street"
"Ruby Baby"
"The New Frontier"
"The Nightfly"
"The Goodbye Look"
"Walk Between Raindrops"

Introductory notes

I've got two words for you:  The 'Burbs.  To me, this scintillating theme piece is about growing up in the American suburbs in the fifties and early sixties.  Those of you who did so, like me, may also feel that this album is a plangent distillation of that experience.  Mr. Fagen didn't miss anything--the space race, the Cold War, fallout shelters, Caribbean coups, teen naivete and angst, tooling up and down the dial to find subversive jazz stations in the pop wasteland, and the terrible, optimistic dream of a benign technological future which crashed with the Cuban Missile Crisis, the eruption of the civil rights movement, the assassination of JFK, and the dawn of that dark night of the soul, the War in Vietnam.  Sorry about that last sentence.  I get carried away by this album.

    About the cover:  J. W. Nicol (Digest, 12/8-22/97) made an amazing discovery of a 1965 publicity photo of the science fiction writer, Frederik Pohl.  Draw your own conclusions.

The Nightfly (8/10/99):Put simply, the most complete "Steely Dan album" of them all. Though SD was never known for concept albums, Donald Fagen made it happen. Characteristically, this album has more focus that any Dan album ever had. Whereas all the Dan albums were compilations, all the songs on the Nightfly more or less describe the same scene. IGY Typifies the Junior High years to me. Everything is cool, the world is getting better, I'm going to high
school, everything is gonna be so great! Then I imagine in Greenflower Street, that the young man gets involved with undesirable characters. Ruby Baby
seems to be a mere tangent from the thought line of the whole album.  It could've been left out, and no one would have ever missed it. Though the subject matter is quite appropo, I find it quite intrusive in the otherwise smooth storyline of the album. Maxine is probably does the best job of drawing a "mental picture" than any other song on the album. We all remember our high school love, whom we so sure we would end up marrying and living happily ever after. Who knows what happened between Maxine and the young man after the end of the song... I really don't want to know. In the New Frontier, I see a new High School graduate having a bash will the whole neighborhood. They are absolutely set up, with food, beer, and even a bomb shelter in the back yard. Life is no longer as simple as it was in the time of IGY or Maxine, but that's OK, because success is just around the corner. The Goodbye Look is a great great song,
although once again a bit intrusive in the story line. We've left our boy in the 'burbs and shifted to a man living in Cuba. The whole song is his premonition of an untimely death. This tune is really incredible because it paints such a perfect picture of the man who's going to die, but has resigned himself to that fact, and wants to make the most of his last moments. Walk Between the Raindrops says love perfectly. Perhaps it could be Maxine, maybe even the big Blonde with the french twist, but they are so incredible absorbed in each other that nothing else matters.  This song is a perfect example of the Fagen style of writing that presents just enough of a story that your imagination can paint a perfect picture, but you don't get so much of the story that it doesn't disappoint you by going some other way than you imagined. All in all, I would say this is the single best album of all Donald & Walter's music.

Reelin' (8/28/99):  I match Fagens liner notes (Michigan,not New York) to such an extent that I feel that album, not listen to it--I HAD a Spandex jacket.

Lars (GB, 1/20/00):  it is probably one of the best dan-albums. To me it´s a growing mans escape and dreams about the times of innocence and a life without
demands. Men ( &women?) at the age of Don (at that time about 35yrs)breeds that kind of escpasism when the going gets boring and without sence.


The International Geophysical Year was an 18-month period in 1957-58 in which scientists world-wide participated in collaborative research about the planet.  It was one of those inspiring things, like Esperanto, whose goal was to advance knowledge while showing that we could all get along.  This song is rich in utopian visions of the near future ("By '76 we'll be A-OK)--a hodgepodge of contemporaneous sci-fi and American optimism, including clean, plentiful energy and quirky ideas of what universal prosperity would mean--"Spandex jackets, one for everyone"?

    "That game of chance in the sky" sounds like the Space Race ("You know we've got to win").  "We'll be clean when the work is done" bounces me back to "Dirty Work."  The line implies no sooty coal dust, no smog, and a well-meaning people Doing The Right Thing--no more black-lung slaves underground, in our country, anyway.  Remember, nuclear power was originally touted as clean and safe.

    The lines about omniscient, benevolent computers to "make big decisions" reminds me of Richard Brautigan's poem, "All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace," in which deer graze in blossoming meadows beside humming mainframes.  I love the alliterative image "all graphite and glitter."  And here and in "The New Frontier," Mr. Fagen has packed in an astonishing number of period expressions.

    The dark side of this song, of course, is that during all this glorious dreaming the U.S. and the then-U.S.S.R. were furiously stockpiling massive caches of nuclear weapons and playing subtle chicken over the fate of the entire planet, and the C.I.A. was waging dirty wars all over the developing world.  "The New Frontier" plays with this dissonance as well.

Maxine (GB, 9/4/96):  I relate the album to the image of the dj on the front cover...he works the graveyard shift at the station, and stays up nights playing requests for people.  on this particular night, he decides to get introspective and starts playing tracks that mean something in his life.  i picture the studio being flooded with calls from other "nightflies" who suddenly realize they've found a kindred spirit.

wormtom (GB, 5/4/00):   the other day someone commented on IGY being a sad sad song

     what? What? WHAT?

     first of all

     being an International Geophysicist
     ever year is I.G. year in my house

     yes we I.G.ers will con cur the world or at least find a few more cool oil fields under the gulf of meck he co so you can
     drive that plaaa schuu eerrr merrr beale to yurr hearts con tent.


     the songs beckons of a perfect world where everything will prosper and life will be lived to the fullest and with modern
     technologies used in ingenious ways to allow us to live the good life in spades of contentment

     what is sad about that - I love their forward optimism


     okay - you look back and say how sad that it didn't work out that way

     sorry but the bomb shelter was never used either
     and you don't get remorse from me there

     granted the strip malls, lawyers, bankers, real estate people all making a fast buck without truly contributing to the
     society have much more to blame, but what about the handout and lawsuit mentality so prev today?

     and have new convieniances made things better, or life more rushed than before?

     When I listen to IGY I harken back to a day of lounging in one's Florida Room, Betty on my right, stroking my neck as
     we both read novels (her a mystery, mine an old Faulkner or one of those great Russians) and sipping martinis with the
     hifi just barely aglow with some fused Monk excursion.

     I'll beckon back to the late 50's too
     even if I wasn't quite yet born then
     (but I was almost concieved in IGY)

     and now back to reality...

     and that fearsome excavation on magnolia blvd.

"The Atomic Cafe," a great movie about nuclear culture
                     "The New Frontier"
                     "All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace," by Richard Brautigan, in
                    In Watermelon Sugar.
                    The Fifties, by David Halberstam
                     "The Manchurian Candidate," (1962), a great cold war thriller.  For a Manchurian Candidate ref, see "Gaslighting Abbie."
                    The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, by John Le Carre
                     Any of Pablo Neruda's poetry
                     "Talk Radio," the movie (1988), with Eric Bogosian

"Green Flower Street"

    Another theme of the period was the illicit nature of interracial (or interreligious, or intrasexual) love.  No Benetton ads in the fifties.  Remember, Brown v. Board of Education was in '54, and the locution of choice in those days was "miscegenation."  Note that the singer "keeps" his squeeze in her neighborhood--he can't be seen elsewhere with her--and that her brother bluntly accuses him of being a white boy in search of exotica.

    Various people have pointed out that the title may refer to "On Green Dolphin Street," which has been recorded by a zillion people, including (most notably to my mind) Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, and Miles Davis.  Do you have any fave versions?

Roy.Scam (GB, 7/14/99):   Another misheard lyric: Until I read the words, I thought "mandarin plum" in Greenflower Street was "magic wand". --
     And if you DID find a plum in the street, would you really want to pick it up? I mean you don't know who left it there or
     where it's been or even if it was organically grown; I would at least blow it off before eating it.

Dr. Mu (GB, 8/11/01):  Green Flower Street seems to me to be an allegory of the wonders and great difficulties of racial integration of the 50s and 60s. This theme works well after IGY, a nostalgic and ironic look back at the perceived potential of science and logic overcoming the human condition in the late 50s. We thought things were going to turn out great, but (at least in 1982 - in the throws of recession and high "misery index" of the late 1970s) from Watts, the      assassinations of MLK and RFK, Vietnam, to Nixon, gas lines and beyond. Even the Kinks sang "Help Me Now I'm Falling."
     Green Flower Street: Donald could have picked the obvious, but he seems to have a fascination with the Orient - and this works.
     Commercial Chinatowns developed in the cities through the late 30s through the 50s and consisting of shops, theaters, and restaurants. The exotic was now available to even teens from the hubdrub of Paissac, NJ.   International politcs played a role in racheting up tension. In retrospect, it obviously makes no sense to blame American citizens of any culture for the current actions of their ancestral homes. In the 40s, of course, many Japanese-Americans were deterred in WWII. After the 1949 Chinese Communist Revolution, the Japanese were our "friends" and the Chines our enemies. Cold War hysteria created a difficult time for the Chinese-Americans. They are often regarded as possible communist sympathizers. American conservatives routinely push for deportation of certain Chinese.
     By 1950, Senator Paul McCarran (D-Nevada) was head of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which went so far as to investigate the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman to see the effect of alleged communist influence. The McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 required American Communist Party members and others to register with the Attorney General. Title II of this onerous act went so far as see the Japanese American wartime incarceration as a precedent in case alleged subversives had to be rounded up. The potentially disastrous use of the incarceration precedent was a galvanizing factor in the Japanese American redress movement, when Japanese Americans and civil libertarians successfully fought to repeal this provision in the 1970s.
     President Harry Truman saw the folly of McCarran’s 1950 Act when he noted that requiring members of banned organizations to identify themselves was like “requiring thieves to register with the sheriff....The basic error of this bill is that it moves in the direction of suppressing opinion and belief....that would make a mockery of the Bill of Rights and of our claims to stand for freedom in the world." (from Truman’s 9/22/50 veto message). When Congress passed the 1950 Act over Truman’s veto, millions of Americans lost jobs or had careers destroyed because of rumors that they were a "bad security risk." Significantly, "loyalty clearance" programs were set up to define what was "American," yet Martin Dies, John Rankin, and other key members of the House and Senate "Un-American Activities" committees decided not to investigate the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups because they themselves were Klan supporters or sympathizers.
     By 1952, Senator McCarran had teamed up with Congressman Francis Walter (D-PA), another anti-Communist and anti-immigrant crusader to pass the McCarran-Walter Act, again over the veto of President Truman. The 1952 Act ended the 1917 Asiatic Barred Zone, but replaced it with something called the Asia-Pacific Triangle. Immigration from this area was capped at 2000 people per year, and if, for example, someone living in France was of Japanese origin, that person would be counted under the 2000 person limit. Not until the comprehensive overhaul of our immigration laws in 1965 did this explicit discrimination against Asian immigration cease.
     By 1960, residential dispersion of the Chinese continues throughout the Los Angeles area, especially with American born Chinese. Throughout the 60's, Chinese Americans made particular gains into professional arenas: medicine, corporations, and politics. The 1964 Immigration and Nationality Act removed the last barriers to Chinese immigration initiating a new era in the history of America's melting pot.
     The Civil Rights Movement and racial unrest continued through the 50s and 60s and became violent.


     It's murder out in the street
     It's murder out in the street

     Setting the stage for racial unrest in the streets

     That's where I found my mandarin plum
     That's where you'd be if you found one

     In the 50s and 60s suburban white kids were exposed to cultures and music (R&B, blues, rock and roll) they had never heard before. It was exciting. In all likelihood, this song is a daydream combining elements of those times.

     Where the nights are bright
     And joy is complete
     Keep my squeeze on Green Flower Street

     Much more excitement than watching the black and white tube in our cookie-cutter house in the 'burbs. The unrest is seen naively initially as exciting, not dangerous.

     Since May
     There's trouble most every night
     Where once we danced our sweet routine
     It reeks of wine and kerosene

     The melding of cultures with underlying poltical and racist subtext is becoming a combustible mixture. That's part of the beauty of the kerosene line. "Kerosene bombs" can also be made with kerosene in a wine bottle with a rag wick. Light and throw. I'm too young to remember the existence or extent of significant violence during that period around Chinatowns. I seem to vaguely remember talk or news of some. Still, much less than that of African-American     neighborhoods in the 60s - anyway, it's an allegory.

     Where the nights are bright
     And joy is complete
     Keep my squeeze on Green Flower Street

     There's a special place for lovers
     One we understand
     There where neon bends in daylight sky
     In that sunny room she soothes me
     Cools me with her fan
     We're drifting
     A thousand years roll by

     Me and my exotic lover escape from the rising tension into a timeless world of pleasure. Notice, that the portagonist is receiving all the pleasure. Whether this is a comment on the more misogynist times or more likely Asian culture or a combination is uncertain. A Geisha-like relationship, which of course mixes up Japanese and Chinese

     Lou Chang
     Her brother he's burning with rage
     Lou Chang
     Her brother he's burning with rage

     Interracial dating was virtually taboo in the 50s and early 60s. Asian-American parents and family members strongly discouraged this at least as stringently as any other culture.

     I'd like to know what's on his mind

     Still, a naive view of the rising racial tensions and the reasons boiling beneath. But, heck , the guys a teen without a care...

     He says hey buddy you're not my kind

     A dose of reality.

     Where the nights are bright
     And joy is complete
     Keep my squeeze on Green Flower Street

angel (GB, 8/15/01):  I definitely can see how it could go either way with the line. Not only bombs being thrown, but your disintegration of many downtown/uptown areas. Especially an immigrant/ethnic area.
     Drinking on the streets (wine) and drug use (kerosene), Robbing for money to obtain those kind of things, etc....
     The other thing I noticed is the comment on the protagonist getting all the pleasure. I think the "We're" and "We" implies that the girl is also getting something for her time and effort. This is not a total one way street. Though it does again reflect a simpler time, when women's lib was not the hot button issue it became in the 60's. I do agree that cultural differences and the role of women are also at work here. With the "cools me with her fan" line....
    The bridge (is that the right word for it?) is a dream sequence by the protagonist. In other words, it is all in his mind. If the streets were so tough that wine and kerosene were stinking up the streets, fire bombs, etc. There is no way the lovers would just be doing what is said in those lyrics. A fantasy of what they do, might be his way to leave reality behind. What the 2 of them do when they are together, is slightly different. As real life has a tendency to be.

tones (GB, 8/19/01):  Dr. Mu - really enjoyed the "Greenflower St." deconstruct, and your history background reminded my of a bit of the local history here in the Bay Area. There's a beach here on the bay called China Camp, which has the last of pert' near a hundred fishing villages established around the turn of the previous century. The Chinese apparently were too efficient of workers for the dominant ethnic majority here in the Bay Area, and were taking too many jobs. So they were forced into the fishing industry, where they harvested the then unwanted bay shrimp. They exported most of the shrimp to back to China where there was a major market for it. Due largely to the traditional Chinese method of shrimping, this soon became a very successful industry for the Chinese, much to the consternation of the local ethnic majority, which succesfully lobbied *congress* to inact limits on when (No Chinese allowed during peak shrimping seasons), how (no traditional fishing methods), and how much a living Chinese shrimpers could earn. This is still the only time in American history that a federal law has been passed to target a specific ethnic minority. Overtly anyway. No wonder Lou Chang was burning with rage.

The Color of Water, by James McBride, an account of an interracial and interreligious relationship in this era.

"Ruby Baby"

Just a quick word:  This is one of only two covers in the Steely repertoire (quick--what's the other one?).  According to Brian Sweet, the band often used it as a warm-up tune before concerts.  It's also one of the best unrequited-love songs of the era.

Lars (GB, 1/20/00):  Ruby is essentialto the collage that Don paints. It sets the time and even invites you as a listener to participate as you (perhaps) already have that song in your own context. It makes it to more than Donald´s own world. Its an invitation.

RubyBaby (GB, 1/24/00):  a word about my chosen namesake song:
     Personally, I've come to know this song as not Donald Fagen's cover (although it truly is) but as The Nightfly's own interpretation of this song. The original version sounds rather hillbillyish to me. I can see mr. nightfly just naturally making the cool changes in his own mind. It fits his personality. His day dreams seem to be way more opptimistic than his real life. He can make my rainy day brighter.


Unfulfilled teenage love.  Dreams were simple then.

tom (GB, 2/8/00):  I see a beat/Kerouc slant to Maxine off the Nightfly - subtle yes, but the "Mexico city, it's like another world, nice this time of year they say.." seems to these ears of Kerouc adventuresome proportions and fits the exact timeframe
    In "On The Road" Cassady hitchhikes (or drives, can't remember) his way down to Mexico. The idea of an open road and the possibilities of unrestricted travel were very much a beat theme, but not practiced openly by the more sheltered weary culture at large. I sometimes wonder if I had read Kerouc in high school as opposed to later, where one would have ended up, certainlyin an open convertible on a desert highway in an alternative universe within this greater     landscape..." di di doo doo di di doo doo

"Wouldn't It Be Nice," The Beach Boys, for a Southern California treatment of similar territory

"The New Frontier"

"The Nightfly" has been described as the most "up" Steely album, but I think this is one of the darkest tunes of them all.  This was the "duck-and-cover" generation, partying, making out, dreaming of grown-up independence a la "Maxine"--all in a fallout shelter, which was a common yard ornament lamely designed to last through nuclear holocaust.  Metaphorically, fallout shelters were like the holes in the ground ostriches stick their heads in.  There was a lot of oblivious fever-dreaming about surviving nuclear war as if it were a tornado;  this was before the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were widely publicized.  The epitome of this attitude:  "Let's pretend that it's the real thing...."

    There are more great period references here--the perfume Ambush was popular, as were French twists, hairdos teased within an inch of their lives and coiled behind the head.  Lyrically, "Ambush" and "French twist" have some nice libidinal undertones.  Other refs:  JFK's New Frontier, wingding, smoker, the Reds, the "button" (which, when pushed, would launch nuclear war), Tuesday Weld, the limbo.  Speaking of the "big blonde," another layer of meaning is the forbidden pursuit of shiksas (gentile women) by Jewish men.  This vein was mined conclusively by Philip Roth in a number of works.  Woody Allen has also gotten a lot of pay dirt out of it.

    There's a nod to the immortal Dave Brubeck, truly an artist and a pioneer who gave dorkiness a good name.  I like the nuance in the line "I like your eyes/ I like him too," as if the singer blurted out the former and tried to cover it with the latter, as he puts his moves on Tuesday.  Like Mr. Subliminal.

John Moore (6/5/98):  I don't think he blurted it out to the big blonde as much as he was trying to be Mr. Smooth, chatting her up, slipping her the soft soap.  The singer may or may not be a Brubeck fan, but if it gets him a good time with BB, hey, whatever it takes, y'know?
    Somewhere in all the boxes in the basement...there is an English lit text with a short story called Big Blonde, and I want to say it's by Dorothy Parker, but don't quote me.  The big blonde is a fun-loving woman who comes to a bad end, but in between there is jollity and loose living, smiling at strange men and telling them she loved their neckties.  Yeah, in the song it's the guy, not the blonde, who's making with the flattery, although there is the parallel of pretending it's the real thing...
    I like the way Fagen yowls "allll night long";  makes me think of a tomcat...nicely enhancing the adolescent lust in the lyric.

Not sure where to put this;  seems as good a place as any:  Roy.Scam (GB, 6/10/98):  With Father's Day almost upon us, I was noticing the difference in the way Donald and Walter portray fathers, at least in song:  Donald has Dad conscienciously  building fallout shelters, and getting up at dawn to mow the lawn.  Walt has Dad passed out drunk in the yard in a Santa suit.

"The Atomic Cafe," 1982, a great documentary about nuclear culture.
                     "On The Beach," 1959, an early postapocalyptic movie with Gregory Peck
                   The Fifties, by David Halberstam
                   A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter Miller, Jr., an early postapocalyptic novel.
                     "War Games," a gripping pseudodocumentary about the sequelae of a nuclear attack.
                        (Not the Matthew Broderick one)
                     "Time Out," by Dave Brubeck, as an intro.
                   Portnoy's Complaint, by Philip Roth, with one of the best last lines in American
                        literature.  See also Goodbye Columbus.
                     "King Of The World," on "Countdown To Ecstasy"
                     "Annie Hall," 1977, an example of Woody Allen's shiksa-chasing

"The Nightfly"

Who among us hasn't fantasized about being a cynical, iconoclastic late-night dj, a combination of a gentler Alan Berg and Wolfman Jack?  Well, I didn't buy the dream, but I borrowed it, and here it is.

    Mount Belzoni appears to be fictional;  the most we know is that it's east of the Mississippi (because of the call letters).

Balinese Cowboy (GB, 2/22/97):  "hello, baton rouge" refers to the Nightfly taking an on-air phone call from a caller from baton rouge.

Spur (GB, 2/22/97):  I'm still steered toward thinking that WJAZ would lie in the South, given the reference to Mt. Belzoni.  The only Belzoni that comes to mind is in the Mississippi Delta blues country and sits between Jackson, MS and Indianola, MS.  I think it's pronounced "Belzona" by the locals.  The region has as much musical heritage as anywhere one can think of, and maybe DF's giving a nod to blues's (and jazz's?) roots.  On the other hand, to imagine anything there could be a mountain is fanciful.  Maybe there's another, more obvious Belzoni somewhere.  Or, maybe the fictional tale can't be located at all, with the references being metaphors or being inside jokes for DF's friends.  In any event, another great musical short story from Mr. Fagen.

Dr. Mu (GB, 2/24/97):  I've always imagined Mt. Belzoni to be one of the smaller Catskills.  When I was a youngster, the family would make a pilgrimage once a year from Chicago to New York to see the grandfolks.... From the front yard, you could gaze westward across the Hudson to the foothills of the Catskills.  On top of one of those mounts was an array of radio and TV antennae.  The location was ideal for broadcasting across the tri-state area.  Being away, at that time, from the glow of the city the nighttime view of the blinking lights was spectacular.

    This is another song with a lot of assonance in the form of long i's ("Toniiight the niiight is miiine") which cut like knives.  His diction is also great on "java and Chesterfield kings," the latter a popular brand of smokes at the time.

    What I really love about this song is the interweaving of the lone, brooding dj who does not suffer fools gladly, with the subtext of a bitter love-lost story:  it's a hurt so close to the surface that even an ad for a cosmetic can freshen it--was he a victim of "kiss and tell"?  And in his sleep-deprived delirium, he becomes confessional--or is he dreaming while the tunes are spinning?  He needs to tell his grief, but is it only to be when the red light is off?  Ironic, to have that huge, unseen audience and not be able to say what you want most.  (Times have changed:  see the dj scene in "Grosse Pointe Blank," in which Minnie Driver nails John Cusack on the air for standing her up 10 years before.)

    Or as Dr. Mu says (GB, 3/6/97):  In the title track while the imagery is crystal clear and stirs the imagination, it's interesting how the radio host drifts off into his own thoughts in this smoky late-night world of jazz, cigarettes, alcohol, insomniacs, incoherent callers, and loneliness.  We're unsure whether his inner-most thoughts are included in the on-air dialogue for example as the "little blue jar" of "Patton's kiss and tell" stirs remembrances of a lost love... at that late hour radio hosts generally have more freedom to do that, and the listeners probably expected it.

    By the way, Noxzema used to come in a little cobalt blue glass jar, and I remember an Eve Arden perfume in a cobalt blue bottle.  Ambush, maybe?  Any memories out there as long as mine?

Norvis Pidner (7/2/99):  "The answer's still the same/It was you" - I always thought that was Fagen speaking through his Lester character, telling his listeners that they're his love - he isn't in love with one person because he puts all his love into his records.  I always thought that.  And when I read in Brian Sweet's book that Fagen was later embarrassed about revealing too much in the album's lyrics, I thought of it again. I assume he's comfortable with it now - he did finally release "On the Dunes" on Kama.

Lars (GB, 1/20/00):  When it comes to the title track I have always seen it as a middle-class jazzloving young mans inability to participate with the "real" hipsters. For a very long time I thought he sang "I wish I had a hard life" instead of "I wish I had a heart like ice"! Another mistake (I´m not american or english) was that I heard "a rise (of the numbers) of men (hanging) in the trees" aiming at the Klan´s killing of black men.

tom (GB, 1/24/00):  Belzoni is a town in lower southwest Mississippi, no mountains to speak of but a few hills formed by former Miss. River terraces. They name a few of these prominant hills "Mountains" which would be a good place for a radio transmitting antenna. A real mountain, who knows, it may still be a finger puller of Donald's. As fpr radio transmittablity, no problem there. The old King Biscuit Flower Hour was broadcast in Helena Arkansas and reached over a 10 state area. I have made several trips farther north - highway 61 through the northern part of the delta blues region and once you get off the interstate you immediately go back 50 years. Cotton farming, juke joints, rural poverty - it's a great drive for those so inclined (I enjoy b&w photography here and chatting with the locals. Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf, Sun House, Muddy Waters, and many others are from here, the real birth place of R&R. Robert Palmer's Deep Blues is a must read for anyone interested in the history, or stop into the Blues museums in Clarksdale Miss or Helena Ark. Festivals in April and October.

Dr. Wu (1/24/04): i was just reading over the nightfly posts and im not so sure if the assessments on the last 3 tracks are correct, well, as far as i can tell anyway. there is a verse in the nightfly song that speaks about how there was a time where the narrator used to have love, and how that person was still on his mind. the goodbye look seemed to be summed up briefly yet accuratly by the guy known as "the nightfly." he said that it was a song of a man dying which seems to be correct to me, they have small receptions for
him, hes getting the goodbye look which could mean the goodbye look as in eliminated from the earth completly. now the last song, walk between the raindrops, i could be way off. but as i see it the narrator is dead now, and he is walking between the raindrops with a lover who died, which leads me back the nightfly when he speaks of how he used to have a flame of love. they are walking between the raindrops to a higher place because they are both passed away now. 

"Grosse Point Blank," 1997, George Armitage, hilarious.
                    "Talk Radio," 1988, the movie of Eric Bogosian's one-man show, directed by Oliver
                    "The King of Marvin Gardens," 1972, Bob Rafelson.

"The Goodbye Look"

I find this one of the most hilarious Steely tunes.  Apparently Mr. Fagen has denied that it's about Cuba, but "this quiet island in the [Guantanamo?] bay" is a dead ringer for Batista's Cuba on the eve of the Fidelista revolution.  Even the line "It's all new players in a whole new ball game" implicates Cuba, since Cuba is baseball mad.  "I read the book"--The Ugly American, perhaps?  The Heart of Darkness?

    The guy is so arrogantly, Yanquily clueless, but fatalistic at the same time.  And here's another perky Steely tune with dark lyrical content.

    Hasn't everyone at some point experienced "the goodbye look" from a boss, a boy/ girlfriend, a bouncer?  It's that unmistakable, instantaneous visual notification that you are history, and Mr. Fagen couldn't have summed it up better.

kd (4/19/99): Last night at some anonymous college party I met a girl named Gretchen, who, by way of her good looks looked nothing like a Gretchen. And, thankfully she didn't get tired of this, I sang "won't you pour me a Cuban Breeze, Gretchen?" a few thousand times to her.
     Now, I'm a bit of a party-er, but I have no clue what goes into a Cuban Breeze, and am guessing that's it's a made up concoction made to go along with the Cuban storyline in "The Goodbye Look."
     She didn't produce a Cuban Breeze, but we did down some copious amounts of rum and Coke-which kind of goes along with another Steely song.

Reelin' (8/28/99):  If Goodbye Look isn't about Cuba, there's no bomb shelter in New Frontier.

Miz Ducky (GB, 11/  99):  Re Cuban Breeze: I think one of our favorite smark-asses has done it to me again. At some
point last night I got curious and went a-web-researching. According to the WebTender site      (which lists drinks I have never even imagined in my wildest dreams, let alone contemplated drinking), there is no such cocktail as a "Cuban Breeze." There's a Sea Breeze, a Cuba Libre, a Cuban Special. No Cuban Breeze. Maybe someone should invent one. At any rate,
     "Cuban Breeze" does scan in the line better than any of the real-life drink names, it's another nice evocative tidbit setting the scene in one of my favorite lyrics--and it sends feckless fan-geeks like me off on wild goose chases, so I suppose it's achieved all its purposes.
     Thanks, Donald. Hope you're laughing, because I am.

The Ugly American, by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick
                  The Heart Of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.  Used by Coppola as the plot basis for  "Apocalypse Now."  It's great fun to read the book and then see the movie.

"Walk Between Raindrops"

Donald Fagen (Manhattan, September 2002) (Liner notes for Nightfly DVD-A):  "Walk Between Raindrops," the almost-sort-of-hopeful wrap-up tune, was written for an old girlfriend from Miami. The title is taken from a Jewish folktale in which a powerful magus-rebbi manages to get from his home to the temple during a thunderstorm without getting wet. I take a solo on the Hammond B3.
    During the final mixdown of the album, I started to feel kind of funny, and that feeling turned into an even weirder feeling that had to do with work and love and the past and mortality and so forth. I wouldn't complete another cd until 1993. So I'm glad I made The Nightfly before a lot of the kid-ness was beat the hell out of me, as happens to us all.

To me, this is a sweet and relatively irony-free song, with a lovely and uncomplicated image--to be so in love that you can walk between raindrops and stay untouched by life's misfortunes.  There are a few atmospheric touches of the garish scene that was Miami, but not enough to darken the song.
    OK, I'm beating a dead horse, but--back to Cuba--I find it interesting that this song about Miami, now the stronghold of Cuban expatriates, immediately follows "The Goodbye Look."

Reelin' (8/28/99):  Among my few life accomplishment, I count the fact that my 19 year-old daughter is continuing the "Dan" tradition significant. However, she was 6 before she realized that the hotels in Walk Between The Raindrops were "big" not "pink" (though the use of that color in Miami is consistant.

Clas (Yellow GB, 7/14/01):  But anyway, meanwhile I might tell you a funny anecdote, apropos The Nightfly that is, how I misheard the shoutouts before the organ-solo in Walk Between the Raindrops:
    I thought the guys shouted:
        "Ooooooooh GRAB it!"
(you know, like we used to say "suck it to me" when the guitar-player in the solo...
...well, not REALLY, you know, "suck it to me", no blow-jobs, not that, and absolutely not with... him.
And theirfor absolutely not "grab it", read zur weiter and you'll see what I mean)
    Just recently I learned to know the shoutout is:
    "Oooooooh MIAMI!"
Pretty cool.
It's got a nice blue ring to it.
Kind of Bergman.

Rajah of Erase (GB, 7/1/03):  That "Walk Between the Raindrops" is a very bittersweet number. The "kid" part of himself he refers to is exemplified in the first person character of the guy in that song. The relationship he had with the lady was over and yet he still dreamt of the day he'd find her "on that Florida shore". That's kidstuff there. Being about 33 or so years old, he's really still living in a fairytale world where everything always ends happily. Knowing when something is over and accepting it is not something "kids" in their twenties and early thirties are usually very good at. Men especially seem to have a problem with this. I did. It's part of truly growing up. And you do have to leave something behind in order to go on to the next chapter of your life, in this case, the "kid" part of himself. The thing he said, "I wouldn't record again until 1993" is really just heartbreaking, to have that great gift and just not be able to access it for so many years, which is why we should continue to celebrate this return. People, we got lucky twice.  Very very nice.