Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!

Dr. Wu By Steely Dan. Album: Katy Lied Released March 1975

  • This song seems to be about a betrayed lover talking to his eccentric shrink, who perhaps has stolen the guy’s girl. It features the signature Steely Dan irony: “All night long, we would sing that stupid song, and every word we sang I knew was true.”As to the identity of Dr. Wu, Steely Dan claims he’s a fictional character, with Donald Fagen explaining, “We change the names to protect the innocent.”
  • Becker told Rolling Stone during their 2009 tour: “It’s about that uneasy relationship between the patient and doctor. People put faith in doctors, yet they abuse their power and become dangerous.”
  • This title of the album comes from a line in this song: “Katy lies, you could see it in her eyes.”
  • If you read a drug connection into this song, you’re on the right track. Donald Fagen describes it as “kind of a love-dope triangle,” adding, “I think usually when we do 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. In this song the 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. In ‘Dr. Wu’ that someone else is a dope habit. personified as Doctor Wu.”
  • Katy Lied marked the first appearance of singer Michael McDonald on a Steely Dan album, a year before he joined the Doobie Brothers. Mojomagazine asked McDonald if Steely Dan’s perfectionist album sessions were frustrating? He replied: “It it was always a challenge to pull it off; sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. They sent me ‘Dr. Wu’ to learn, and right away I realized I needed to sing the part in one breath. I wasn’t able to do it because I smoked way too much at that point.”

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