Jazz-rock masters Steely Dan are iconoclasts in each and every sense of the term. A person of the most influential groups to have graced the field, their distinctive type has observed a put in the hearts of many demographics ranging from stoner artwork university learners to former acid-loving uncles who nonetheless are living at your grandmother’s house.
Well-liked music’s resident misanthropes, Steely Dan’s complicated tunes and surreal lyricism rank between the incredibly best, and their refreshing seem is most effective described as timeless. There’s a explanation why Steely Dan are even now lauded right now, some 51 several years soon after their formation, and why a lot of of their contemporaries have light into obscurity.
The band was formed by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker in 1971 following they struck up a friendship while learning at New York’s Bard College in the late 1960s. Sharing a wicked sense of humour and a enjoy of Charlie Parker’s music, as perfectly as an unyielding disdain for hippiedom, the two hit it off and quickly formed a single of music’s most highly effective songwriting duos.
There is a deep irony to this, as aesthetically, Steely Dan were hippies, but in mind-set, they were not. In quite a few ways, they ended up hipsters, and their audio is imbued with the type of edgy sentiment that would be parodied in the distant future by shows this sort of as Nathan Barley.
Needing a name, they appeared to a single of the authentic hipsters, ‘Beat’ literature hero and authentic maniac William S. Burroughs. Followers of his oeuvre, Fagen and Becker located their identify in his controversial 1959 novel Naked Lunch. ‘Steely Dan III from Yokohama’ is a big, steam-run strap-on dildo utilized by the character Mary, and the band understood that this was the great topic material for the identify of their band. Now they were all set to established the globe on hearth.
Offered that Steely Dan’s name originates in the realm of literature, it will come as minimal surprise to heed that their lyrical style was significantly motivated by publications, and in unique, these of the science fiction genre. When sitting down down with New York magazine about his most current album Morph the Cat, Donald Fagen disclosed how he and Becker had been influenced by all factors science.
The interviewer set it to Fagen that a couple of the songs on Morph the Cat are futuristic, as was his previous album Kamakiriad, and then questioned irrespective of whether he appreciated science fiction as a boy or girl. To which Fagen responded: “Yeah, I was really a member of the Science Fiction Ebook Club. That was the golden age of science fiction all the great writers ended up lively then.”
Questioned which writers captivated him, Fagen mentioned: “Well, I cherished C. M. Kornbluth, I loved A. E. van Vogt. I appreciated the fellas who had been seriously social satirists. A great deal of these guys arrived out of the Socialist motion of the thirties, and they experienced a really amusing way of criticizing society. I genuinely uncovered a lot from them.”
Finding a little bit cheeky, the interviewer then dropped all pretences and requested the Steely Dan gentleman if he stole from any of the science fiction writers in distinct. He discovered that he did, and that it was 1 author that educated him and Becker’s lyrical type extra than any. He reported: “Certainly Alfred Bester. He was a New Yorker. His first novel, The Demolished Gentleman, bought the fast circulation of life in the town, which I think is however current. There is something about the stream of Alfred Bester’s prose that I feel affected the way Walter Becker [the other half of Steely Dan] and I create lyrics.”