The liner notes to "Alive In America" surrender this description: "Girlfriend. Narcissistic. Showbiz. Cult of self. Karmic payback."
There are a lot of girlfriend characters in Steely songs who are trouble. Peg is one; she's trying to make her fortune in porn movies (which used to be called "blue" movies, hence, perhaps, her pin-up picture ["pin shot"] in "blueprint blue"?), and the narrator is trying to be really nice about it, or being bitterly ironic about it, while at the same time feeling devastated and warning her that her choice may have consequences. Can someone find these guys a nice girl-next-door for a change?
The sharp-eared Edd Cote noticed that in the third repetition of the chorus at the end, someone is complaining mightily in the background, and says, "I don't wanna do this!" Listen and be regaled.
Also, the golden-throated Michael McDonald's back-up line is "Shutter falls/ All in 3D/ Foreign movie," which I always misheard as "all in 3D before you." Used to be that "foreign movie" was pretty much a euphemism for porn flick.
(Newsgroup, 2/11/00): I always interpreted the song Peg
to be a story of "I knew her back when." The words seem to me to be a guy
either writing a letter trying in vain to get in touch with Peg, or Our
Hero simply watching Peg on TV as she makes her way along the Academy Awards
runway. He smiles at the TV, alone in his room, remembering what it was
like when they were dating. Now, here it is the late 1970's and Peg has
become a star. Our Hero is still just a regular guy who knew her back in
the day, but now can't get the time of day from her.
Fast forward to 1999. Like Faye Dunaway, once a hot commodity and now in three short scenes in the Thomas Crown Affair, Peg may no longer have her name in lights above her pin shot. She wants to reconnect with her old friends, her true friends, perhaps a little sorry that she got so taken with herself when fame hit.
Does anyone else think that characters in Steely Dan songs may be somewhat serialized across the years? Any possibility that What a Shame's Barry the
Software King and Bobby the Bunsen Prize winner were the boys upstairs, smokin' with Our Hero back in My Old School? Could Franny be the one one
who put Our Hero on the Wolverine up to Annandale?
Your Father (Newsgroup, 2/11/00): I doubt that Peg would be gracing the runway at the Academy Awards; I've always thought that Peg was a porn actress. The line in the chorus, "It's your favorite foreign movie" seems to be a pretty direct allusion to the fact that Peg's roles were not, um, Shakespearean. There are a few other hints along the way, "done up in blueprint blue"-- perhaps an allusion to the "blue movies" of the day? And of course, the broad "So won't you smile for the camera, I know I'll love you better." It all seems to fit in what my idea of the song is. And the narrator-- I don't think he's known Peg for a long time. He may be her boyfriend or pursuer, but he doesn't seem like he's too strange. He just wants Peg because he "likes her pin shot."
Charlem (Newsgroup, 2/13/00): But he keeps it with her letter.
I always saw it as a kind of guy falls in love with girl, she becomes movie
star and forgets him kind of story. Maybe that's too straightforward, but
my mental image is of this guy sitting at home falling more in love with
someone that all but forgets he exists.
Another explanation is that he wrote her a fan letter, and got back a standard "thanks for the fan letter' reply, which he takes as a sign of her undying
affection for him. He keeps it with her letter done up in blue print blue, like a shrine he keeps for her. And everytime she smiles, he thinks she's smiling just for
Then again, he could be talking to a pirate.
St. Al/ Hoops! Fandom Q & A (5/21/00): My question is about
the song "Peg". I recently saw a documentary on Peg Entwistle, a young
actress who committed suicide by jumping off the Hollywood sign, it made
me wonder if Peg was about her. So my question very simply put...Is the
song "Peg" about a real person, if so then who is she? Submitted By: Susan
Answer [from Messrs. F & B]: The song "Peg" was indeed about a real person, but that person was obviously nowhere near as real and compelling as Peg Entwistle. So now the song is about her. Okay?
(6/22/00): After hearing Ed Cotte's great catch of the "I don't
wanna do this," in Peg, I believe that the singer/narrator is not
a boyfriend or some groupie, but a porn-star director. The director
is trying to get her to do her first porno scene, but at the last minute
she can't go through with it on the set. So
he is pumping her up with such comments as "I've seen you picture, your name in lights above it," "this is your big debut" and "I know they're gonna love
it" as if trying to get her to envision the wealth and fame she will achieve. The "pin shot" and 'letter" were what she originally sent to inquire about a movie role. (Again he's pumping her up - "it sure looks good on you" - i.e. I've seen you naked in your pin shot and you look great.)
The references to "smile for the camera" and "shutter falls" again make me think we are on the set with a reluctant actress. Seeing it all in "Three-D" shows she is witnessing the scene first hand. And while its hard to explain, even the underlying guitar line has sort of a pornographic ring to it.
Peg (really!) (GB, 7/22/00): My opine is that there is some relation between being up on the hill and other hills mentioned in other songs.
Aja (GB, 7/26/00): I see Peg as starlet who's ambitious to the point of posing in Playboy to get some attention (maybe the song would be called "Darva" if they wrote it today).
fabulous unmissable Fandom Q & A: thanx to St. Al & Hoops!
for those hours of question flogging, and bien sur to Them and to the
Incomparable WebDrone for, well, everything
GuestBook thread, 11/00: Your favorite foreign movie
"My Life As a Dog"
"Nights of Cabiria"
"The Bicycle Thief"
"La Dolce Vita"
"The Last Metro"
"Like Water For Chocolate"
"Life Is Beautiful"
"The Tin Drum"
"Farewell, My Concubine"
"And Now For Something Completely Different"
"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"
"Raising Ned Devine"
"Jean de Florette"
"Manon des Sources" ("Manon of the Springs")
"The 400 Blows"