RoyalAja (Digest, 5/14/98): 'Tomorrow's Girls', while not only a fabulous Sci-Fi notion, might well represent how Man might see Woman in the late 90's, particularly on the streets of New York City. Not merely unsocial but downright aloof, these women of the city never make eye-contact, but rather see through you; countenances devoid of any sign of emotion: a flat affect. At first supposition one might chalk this up to a posturing; an outward indication of need for physical security which can theoretically be secured both outside and in via a blase attitude while traversing hostile environs. What lies darkly beneath is actually a global ultra-high frequency sneer desemenated to us men (mainly the less fair of our gender); a perceived judgement of your inadequacy, the savage man, who isn't needed for anything at all by this self-sufficient (or semi-self-sufficient, helped out by some (handsome) better individual (Adonis or lesbian): "the laugh becomes a furious whine." As if they were actually alien (with all the intellectual (etc.) superiority of such), we men are relegated as impotent shlubs mired in a collosal lack of collective visceral actualization, this fleeting actualization only semi-attainable by the only means possible: a "consummate" lay, which these "aliens" all know is the essence of all of man's behavior. "Career," man's former prized hegemony over women, is all but lost in this Post-Modern day where braun is only good to, in turn, casually entertain women in their spare moments in the only way that some of the luckier men can impress them anymore: through the abortive "consummate" lay, which as we all know, holds drastic less import to women, who can actually "do without" or creatively and/or mechanically sidestep in some true sci-fi horror. We men are indeed doomed to a prolonged crescendo of domination (first dreamed of and subsequently limned by Donald Fagen) by a far-"superior" race. In our case, the alien (human Woman) is merely blessed with a mind unfettered by a million-year Priapism. "Look out fellas, its shredding time."
(10/3/00): Tomorrow's Girls
Smack-in-the-face snare, funky, funky Wurlitzer and those bitchen kick horn lines -my favourite track, hands down. A cool exploration of the "woman as
* "Our town is just like any other" - the classic Hitchock/Twilight Zone setup, everything picture perfect and utterly normal until ...
* "Mommies kissing Daddies goobye" - demure domestic bliss, about to be disprupted by the predatory sexuality of Tomorrow's Girls?
* "Then the milkman screamed and pointed up at the sky" -- obvious associations with 50's sci-fi -- imagery of alien ships descending -- The Day The Earth Stood Still, Earth vs The Flying Saucers, etc, -- but note the cute cliché reversal: in this invasion the men are screaming, not the girl, as is the case in so many 50s sci-fi flicks
* "Sheilus" - no idea where this comes from. The only tenous association I can make is that 'sheila' is Australian/New Zealand slang for a young woman
* Kizmar- kismet? Kashmir?
* "They're speeding towards our sun on a party run" - lovely collision of images - to us, they're an alien threat; to them, it's Spring Break
* "But what's left in your arms after the static clears?" - cf. the front cover pic, which shows DF's image on the static-filled dashboard screen. In conjunction with the previous line ("And when the cry, they cry real tears") it reminds me of Any Major Dude - the weeping Squonk, that dissolves into a pool of tears when captured.
* "they're landing on the Jersey beaches" - I can't help giggling at the idea that a race of interplanetary ultrvixens would fly millions of miles just to visit the Jersey shore.
* "Their engines make the white sand swirl" - White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the famous US Army testing ground for missiles and experimental aircraft
* "by the last light of the triple sun" - multiple suns/moons, another classic sci-fi device, but interesting that it is "triple sun", singular -- not triple suns
* the bridge is set in the evening/nightfall, as opposed to the verses which could perhaps be seen as encapsulating a single day - the morning in verse 1, midday in verse 2, afternoon in verse 3
* "go-tree" -- is there such a thing? Possibly a conflated reference to the Bo-tree, the tree under which the Buddha sat when he achieved enlightenment (from the Sanskrit bodhi), and Go, the ancient Japanese strategy board game
* "They're mixing with the population" - cf. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
* "Lord help those lonely guys, hooked by those hungry eyes" - the female praying mantis typically devours the male after and often during mating
* "You're not my Ruthie, you're not my Debbie" -- an extended reprise of the simulacrum/false identity/rejection motif in Countermoon ("You're not my Jackie"). cf. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, BLADE RUNNER. I love the nifty "You're not my sister, you're not my mother, significant
other" line. All in all, a litany of classic 50's 'girlie' (pinup?) names - Debbie, Barbie, Cyndi, Ruthie ... Are Tomorrow's Girls not real - or just not what he imagines women should be?
[ Dunks adds on 11/18/03...] ... I saw a car advertisement (forget which brand) while I was in London which used an old 60s hit as the backing track. On hearing the song in question I suddenly realized that it was being referred to in TG.
The first section of the first line of the bridge in TG - "In the cool of the evening ..." is a direct lift from the first line of the old Classics Four hit "Spooky (Little Girl Like You)". http://www.guitaretab.com/c/classics-four/3577.htm
Hardly earth-shattering, I know, but I hadn't heard the song in years and when I heard it in the advert I immediately thought "Oh, right ..."
Javier (8/20/01): A personal analysis on "Tomorrow’s Girls"
"Tomorrow’s Girls" is, in my very personal point of view, a lament of growing older and fight against time. I’m gonna tell it like it happened to me:
In 1993, the same year that Kamakiriad was released, I turned 20. It was kinda shocking for me to find that I wasn’t 19 anymore –My first approach to Steely Dan was buying Decade On december 31st, 1992- and Life in my twenties was about to begin. Me and my friends, all of us surrounding the second decade, started dating younger girls. Way younger girls than us. We called them the brats (chibolas in peruvian slang). Beautiful girls with pimples and braces, going from 13 to 14 and from 14 to 15. We, old guys approaching the twenties, dating nymphs for getting ourselves the juices of eternal youth. In November 1993 I bought Kamakiriad and "Tomorrow’s Girls" was the right soundtrack for those moments I was living: Dating these little young brats, hiding ourselves from our other friends ("Are you going out with them? Are they getting drunk with you guys? Shame on you!!!") and, most of all, feeling good, free, and with the feeling of doing something wrong that tasted right. The girls of tomorrow, the girls that are not ready yet, but you are having a good time next to them.
In 1994, I don’t know if you can remember, there was a big suicidal wave all over the world. One week before Kurt Cobain shot himself to death, a famous peruvian model was found death in her bathroom with a bullet-wound that crossed her brain. She was 21 and one of the most famous, rich and beautiful models. She also hosted a children’s TV show. Kids loved her, and also their fathers did. The main reason she decided to kill herself was the lack of confidence and security about her body. She was amazingly hot, but she felt she was growing older, she was not a "Tomorrow’s Girl" anymore. Cobain killed himself because of the angry of being young, not being able to stop time. It was the same principle. We get tired of being young and grow older.
One month before (March 1994), My uncle suddenly lefts his wife for a more young girl. He was 45, she was 19. My aunt was 42, and still good-looking and intelligent; but my uncle prefeered the young blood. Young girls give us old guys a very nice sense of passion for life. We feel winners, specially when these young girls don’t care if we have money or not. They like us because we’re clever, and why not, cute!
These close four stories can be related to one song: "Tomorrow’s Girls". When we found ourselves caught by society and morality about our pedophile acts, we create science fiction stories. They’re from outer space! We have no defense against them! But I don’t care, I’m gonna wait for one of them at Lantern time. Girls of our age -our wives and girlfriends- can't do anything to stop them, because It's impossible to fight these brats! they have to go back in time!
So, that's my personal approach to that great song, probably the best song of the nineties.
Catch Javier and do some sabroso bilingual mingling at CacaoRock. Javier also writes reviews on amazon.com--check him out here.
(2/24/02): Regarding the bridge section of Tomorrows
I too agree that there are definite Eastern references in the
cool of the evening
In the last light of the triple sun
I wait by the go-tree (If you go along with the thought that this might
be a reference to the Bo Tree and Buddha. )
day's busy work is done
Soon the warm night breezes
Start rolling in off the sea
Yes, at lantern time...
(In Chinese culture, the Lantern Festival, which occurs 15 days after the start of the Chinese New Year, represents the end of the New Year celebrations and closes the period of harmony and "roundness" . The lanterns light the way home for the Festival guests of the mortal world and the spirits in the afterlife. The day of lanterns sends the blessing of harmony, order and unity for the New Year.)
Donald Fagen has had reference to Eastern thoughts and Religion in other Steely Dan songs. Most notably, "Do it Again" and "Aja". The "roundness" reference in the Lantern Festival, may be referring to the wheel of life, hinted at in "Do it Again". So in this line he may be just referring to evening as "Lantern Time", or he could be making a direct reference to the actual festival.
when you come to me
Come to me....
Here's another something interesting about lantern time from a tourist webpage:
"The Lantern Festival is also a celebration for lovers. In the past, it was the one day of the year when a woman could come out - chaperoned, of course! - and be seen by eligible single men. (In the days when women's feet were bound, it was often the one time when she could appear in public with unbound feet). Of course, these restrictions no longer exist, but there is still a hint of romance in the air at the Lantern Festival celebrations."
Female Man, by Joanna Russ--women learn parthenogenesis to keep the
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin--more gender-bending science fiction by a true
queen of the genre.
The Natural Superiority of Women, by Ashley Montagu. Ashley, a guy.
The works of Sigmund Freud ("What do women want?")