Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 9/10/2021, St. Vincent brought her Daddy’s Home Tour to Old National Centre’s Egyptian Room in Indianapolis, IN. Annie Clark is St. Vincent in much the same way that Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails, meaning that she is the composer, multi-instrumentalist and overall sonic architect of the St. Vincent brand. For this particular tour, Clark has assembled an irresistible collection of musicians and backing vocalists, including musical director Justin Meldal -Johnsen on bass, keyboards, and vocals, Jason Falkner on guitars and vocals, Mark Giuliana on drums, and Rachel Eckroth on keyboards. A trio of soulful backup vocalists (Sy Smith, Nayanna Holley, and Neka Hamilton) provided exciting visual energy and enhanced the old school ‘70’s vibe that permeated the entire production.

I have been a big fan of St. Vincent for several years and one of the things I enjoy the most is the way Clark reinvents her songs. There is a marriage of icy modern technology and vintage r&b/soul sensibility in this current show that is unlike anything else I have heard recently (okay, maybe Beck, but it’s different than his stuff, too). As good as her band is (and they are phenomenal, make no mistake), it is nearly impossible to look away for long from the main attraction. Annie Clark is simply magnetic; her vocals are pitch perfect, her guitar skills are subtly scintillating, and her moves (with or without a guitar) are a lot of fun to witness. Every song was filled with inspired performances, collaborations, interactions, unique staging (including a rotating circular platform that housed a gigantic mirror on one side that was used to great effect), and the brilliant writing that continues to flow out of St. Vincent seemingly effortlessly.

She played eight songs off the new album and she shared the wealth from the rest of her catalogue: Digital Witness, Actor Out Of Work, Birth In Reverse, Daddy’s Home, New York, Sugarboy, Los Ageless, Marrow, Fast Slow Disco, Pay Your Way In Pain, Cheerleader, Live In The Dream, and an absolutely mesmerizing The Melting Of The Sun. Encores included Down And Out Downtown, Year Of The Tiger, and Fear The Future. I remember thinking if they would have played Black Rainbow, my life would be complete. Well, they didn’t play it, so I plan to keep going back for more. St. Vincent is pretty smart. It’s probably part of her master plan!

On This Date in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 9/8/2021, Guns N’ Roses brought the big rock show to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

There are only an increasingly smaller number of bands capable of playing the stadium sized gigs in this day and age, and I have to admit I was more than a little curious to see if these guys still had the magic touch.

For starters, someone had the good sense to book a really solid opening act, Mammoth WVH, featuring Wolfgang Van Halen on lead vocals, lead guitar, and keyboards. I was impressed with their music and positively blown away by the young Van Halen’s singing. He has written stuff that doesn’t trade on his legendary father’s style or legacy, and I think he has put together a band that has the potential to make a nice career for themselves. The headliners were generous with Mammoth WVH, giving them ample stage time and good sound and lights.

Speaking of those key ingredients of a successful stadium extravaganza, GnR provided an ever shifting blend of big screen projections and lighting pyrotechnics to supplement their hard rocking attack.

It does need to be said that Axl Rose is no longer in his prime as a vocalist, but he played it smart and stayed in his lower vocal register at the beginning before working his way into the higher notes. He lacks that scalpel sharp, laser beam edge that he wielded with such swagger in the days of his youth, but he got the job done, and he tirelessly roamed the stage and worked the crowd.

Axl appeared to be in a genuinely good mood and that was definitely at odds with his attitude when I last saw these guys in a different stadium (The RCA Dome) and with a different set of touring partners (Metallica and Faith No More).

Of course, Slash has returned to the band, and his golden toned lead guitar work was prominently featured throughout the evening. Slash sure does have some nice guitars, and he coaxes that unmistakable signature sound out of all of them.

Duff McKagan held down the bottom end and provided a host of key backup vocal parts, too. The rest of the supporting players did solid work and helped round out the current version of the super-sized GnR.

Guns N’ Roses have cultivated an impressive catalog of music along the way and most of the obligatory tunes were represented; It’s So Easy, Nightrain, Mr. Brownstone, Welcome To The Jungle (with a teaser of Link Wray’s Rumble in the intro), November Rain, Rocket Queen, You Could Be Mine, Civil War (with an outro jam on Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix), a really long blues jam after the band introductions loosely based on Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters that had Slash taking an epic guitar solo, then directly into Sweet Child O’ Mine. There were some excellent cover tunes, also: Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings, Slither (Velvet Revolver…absolutely killer!), The Seeker (The Who…featuring Slash playing a wicked Flying V), I Wanna Be Your Dog (Iggy & The Stooges, with Duff on lead vocals…awesomeness!), Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan), and perhaps the strangest and most unexpected cover of the night, Wichita Lineman (by Jimmy Webb and famously covered by Glen Campbell). A couple of songs from the infamous Chinese Democracy album were performed (and fit in perfectly), and the show was capped off by an extended four song encore culminating in the anthemic Paradise City.

Although I generally prefer a more intimate venue, there’s something to be said for the decadent grandeur of a stadium rock show. On this night, Guns N’Roses made me both nostalgic and hopeful that this rock thing might just stick around for awhile after all.

On This Date in History

Former MÖTLEY CRÜE singer John Corabisays that there is “zero chance” of him ever going back to the band.

Corabi joined CRÜE in 1992 as the replacement for the group’s original singer, Vince Neil, who was dismissed due to personal differences. With Corabi on vocals, MÖTLEY CRÜE released one critically acclaimed full-length CD, which ended up being a commercial failure in the wake of grunge despite a Top 10 placing on the album chart. When Neil returned to the fold in 1997, Corabi was left on his own and formed the band UNION with ex-KISSguitarist Bruce Kulick.

After a recent article emerged online claiming — falsely — that CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx issued an ultimatum to Neil to lose a significant amount of weight for the band’s comeback tour or be fired and replaced by Corabi, adding that CRÜE held a series of rehearsals in Los Angeles late last month with John on vocals, Corabitook to his Facebook page to write: “Ok Gang, I’ve recieved a TON of messages from a lot of you who have unfortunately fallen for this ‘CROCK OF SHIT!!!!’

“Here’s the real deal… I can categorically state here once and for all that the chances of my ‘return’ to MÖTLEY are 0%…

“1) There is No Way, Nikki ordered an ultimatum to Vince, and used me as leverage! 2) There were absolutely ZERO secret rehearsals… And 3) After my incredibly STUPID portrayal in ‘The DirtMovie,’ and the ludicrous shitty statements of one of the band members in regards to my contributions and lack of ‘writing talents,’ yours truly is NOT even remotely interested in doing that again…

“Don’t buy into the ‘CLICK BAIT BULLSHIT!!!!!’

“I wish TOMMY, NIKKI, MICK, and VINCE the best on their tour, and their future endeavors!!!!”

Corabi in 2016 said that he would avoid talking about MÖTLEY CRÜE in the future because he didn’t want his comments about Sixx to descend into a feud.

In an interview with Sweden Rock MagazineNikki said that writing the “Mötley Crüe” LP with Corabi was a prolonged and difficult experience. He went to call it “a very unfocused record” that was “painful for me, because John Corabi can’t write lyrics, and I had to do all that work.”

Corabi initially responded to Sixx‘s comments by saying that he didn’t “give a shit” about what his ex-bandmate had to say, but later told an interviewer, when asked about it again, “I have no idea why Nikki feels that I’m the biggest piece of shit to roam the Earth.” He then proceeded to take to his Facebook page to claim that he would “officially have nothing to say about any member of MÖTLEY CRÜE ever again,” adding that he was “not backing this bullshit stirring that is happening to start a feud.”

In February 2018, Corabi released a live album of his performance of MÖTLEY CRÜE‘s entire 1994 self-titled album, recorded on October 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. “Live ’94: One Night In Nashville” documents the album in its entirety along with the bonus track “10,000 Miles”, which was originally released as a bonus track on the Japanese version of the “Quaternary” EP.

Corabi recently completed work on his autobiography. Titled “Horseshoes And Hand Grenades”, it was written wih the help of MÖTLEY CRÜE historian/author Paul Miles, and is due on April 12, 2022 via Rare Bird Books.

JOHN CORABI Addresses Rumors That He Will Be Replacing VINCE NEIL On MÖTLEY CRÜE’s ‘The Stadium Tour’

THE ROLLING STONES have paid tribute to Charlie Watts with a two-minute video featuring various photos and footage of their late drummer over the years.

The clip, which was uploaded to the band’s social media accounts on Friday, is set to the 1974 track “If You Can’t Rock Me”and concludes with a photo of Watts‘s drum set that has a “closed” sign hanging on it.

Watts‘s publicist said that he “passed away peacefully” on August 24 “in a London hospital surrounded by his family.”

Charlie‘s death came just weeks after THE ROLLING STONES announced that Wattswould be missing several U.S. tour dates while he was recovering from an unspecified medical procedure.

The 12-date “No Filter” tour will reportedly take place as scheduled, with Steve Jordan taking Watts‘s place.

Although Watts wasn’t a founding member of THE STONES, he had been with the band since January 1963.

He battled throat cancer in 2004 but got the all clear after undergoing two operations.

Following Watts‘s death, THE ROLLING STONES guitarist Keith Richards shared the same drum set photo that closed out the video, while singer Mick Jagger posted a smiling picture of Watts. Guitarist Ronnie Wood shared a photo of him with his late bandmate, writing, “I love you my fellow Gemini ~ I will dearly miss you ~ you are the best.”


Written By Braddon S. Williams

Elegance…grace…style…serenity. These are not words that automatically come to mind when thinking about The Rolling Stones, and yet Charlie Watts had all of that and much more. He was the very personification of the eye of the storm. Charlie was the pulse, the heartbeat, the foundation upon which the Stones built their entire history. By cultivating a minimalist approach and steadfastly serving the songs, Watts garnered nearly unanimous respect from musicians (particularly drummers) and fans on a global scale. His career in music spanned nearly sixty years, but his legacy will cast an enormous shadow. Charlie Watts was a true icon and the world is a better place due to his contributions.

Remembering Icon And Legendary Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 8/1/2021, The Black Crowes and Dirty Honey brought an old school rock show full of bluesy swagger to Deer Creek (aka Ruoff Music Center) in Noblesville, IN. On an evening of near-perfect summertime Midwest weather, many of us witnessed our first outdoor concert since the pandemic shut live music down in 2020. Dirty Honey wasted no time in getting the music starved audience up and moving to their bare bones, ‘70’s influenced party approach. With a classic drums, bass, guitar, and lead vocalist template, the Los Angeles based band played with a seasoned assurance and confidence not often found in a group that has barely been together for four years. In particular, Marc Labelle’s voice was the perfect instrument for Dirty Honey’s vintage style. They delivered a scorching take on Aerosmith’s Last Child early in their set as a reminder that they are fully aware of the tradition they are helping to keep alive. These guys are young and hungry, and if they continue to refine their attack, I expect to be hearing great things from them for years to come. Big respect for the headliners for including them in this perfect pairing of dynamic bands. The Black Crowes began their show with a complete run through of their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, and continued on with a number of fan favorites, including Thorn In My Pride, Wiser Time, Soul Singing, and Remedy. Although singer Chris Robinson and his brother Rich (guitar) are the only original Crowes currently in the band, the musicians on stage faithfully recreated the magical soulful vibe that has always been The Black Crowes’ calling card. Kudos to the sound and light crews, as both bands sounded and looked phenomenal on the stage. It is difficult to put into words how amazing it felt to be back in a live music outdoor venue, but more specifically it fills me with joy that there are young bands like Dirty Honey carrying on the tradition of guitar driven, blues infused, soul drenched, hard rocking, good time music that so many of us hold near and dear in our hearts. I salute The Black Crowes for settling their differences and reuniting to continue their great legacy. I saw them for the first time in 1995 and they still display the passion and the fire that lives eternally in all the best music.

On This Day in History

We’re saddened to hear the news about ZZ Top’s longtime bassist, Dusty Hill’s passing. We send our condolences to Dusty’s family, ZZ Top, crew, friends & fans.

Born: May 19, 1949 – Died: July 27, 2021

Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill was an American musician who was the bassist of the rock band ZZ Top. He also sang lead and backing vocals, and played keyboards. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of ZZ Top in 2004. Hill played with ZZ Top for over 50 years; after his death, he was replaced by the band’s longtime guitar tech Elwood Francis, in line with Hill’s wishes.

On July 27, 2021, Hill died at his home in Houston, Texas at the age of 72. Hill died in his sleep. His rep confirmed the musician’s death, but said a cause of death was currently unknown.

According to a Facebook post by the band, Hill recently suffered a hip injury, preventing him from touring with the band. At that time, the band said its longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis, would fill in on bass, slide guitar and harmonica.

“We are saddened by the news that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, Texas,” surviving members Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard said in a statement. “We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature, and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’ You will be missed greatly, amigo.”

Gibbons confirmed that the band would continue with Francis, per Hill’s wishes. According to Gibbons, “Dusty emphatically grabbed my arm and said, ‘Give Elwood the bottom end, and take it to the Top.’ He meant it, amigo. He really did.”

Upcoming performances for the trio included a Las Vegas residency at The Venetian Resort scheduled to begin Oct. 8.

Born Joe Michael Hill in Dallas, Dusty Hill headed to Houston in 1970 and joined ZZ Top, alongside guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard. The band grew in popularity blending blues and rock and roll, and went on to release 15 albums in their roughly 50-year history.

Hill wasn’t ZZ Top’s original bass player. He joined shortly before they cut their debut LP, ZZ Top’s First Album, in 1971, and remained a pivotal part of the group through their most recent albums and tours. Throughout all that time, the lineup stayed just Hill, Gibbons, and Beard, making them one of the most stable acts in rock history.

Hill said in an interview to Classic Rock in 2010 “It’s a cliché and sounds so simplistic, but it’s down to the three of us genuinely enjoying playing together,”

“We still love it, and we still get a kick out of being onstage. We also have enough in common to maintain a bond between us but sufficient differences to keep our individuality. And after all this time, we all know what winds up the others and what makes them the people they are.”

Hill, Gibbons and Beard formed ZZ Top in Houston in 1969. The band released its first album, titled “ZZ Top’s First Album,” in 1970. Three years later it scored its breakthrough hit, “La Grange,” which is an ode to the Chicken Ranch, a notorious brothel outside of a Texas town by that name.

The trio became recognizable worldwide for their distinctive look: long beards, sunglasses and Stetson hats.

They also gained fame for their popular music videos, including “Gimme All Your Lovin'” and “Sharp Dressed Man,” going on to win three MTV Video Music Awards.

Dusty Hill mourned by fellow rockers

Remembering Legendary Icon, ZZ Top Bassist Dusty Hill

You hope that you give the proper signals, so that people will get a sense of what you’re talking about.” – Donald Fagen

“Every time someone’s in the next room when we’re writing a song they say, ‘Don’t tell me you’re fucking writing songs in there, you’re not working, ’cause you’re fucking screaming and laughing in there.’” – Walter Becker 

“Steely Dan gargles my balls.” –Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) in Knocked Up

Late in the evening, after one too many gin and tonics, I have provoked many an argument by calling Steely Dan the best band of the ‘70s. This claim isn’t backed up by sales figures or airplay; though they remain a staple of classic rock radio, “the Dan” have never been a mainstream proposition. They only had three top ten hits (“Do It Again,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” “Hey Nineteen”), and of all their records, only Aja was certified platinum on first release. Of all the big-name ‘70s acts (Zeppelin, Floyd, Bowie, Sabbath, the Clash), Steely Dan is probably the most publicly hated. Naysayers point out that Michael McDonald sang back-up on “Peg.” They criticize the icy perfectionism of Gaucho, or the oh-so-‘70s vocals on “Dirty Work.” “Elevator music,” my girlfriend says, “I can’t get past those synthesizers.” 

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen met at Bard College in 1967. Bonding over a shared love of Dylan, jazz, and beat literature, they set out to become professional songwriters, showing up at the Brill Building to pitch early compositions like “Barrytown” and “I Mean to Shine” (the latter was eventually recorded by Barbra Streisand[!]). But the business had already changed; artists were now expected to write their own material, and besides, Becker and Fagen’s compositions were too unconventional for a pop audience. Rooted in jazz instead of blues, the songs were filled with impossible chord changes, unconventional tempos, and melodic left turns. 

The opaque lyrics were filled with cryptic references, bizarre characters, inside jokes, black comedy and bitter cynicism. But the material was catchy, and on the strength of songs like “Brooklyn,” they finally managed to land a gig with ABC records. Deciding to release the songs on their own, they assembled a band, named themselves after a dildo in William Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch,” and quickly recorded 1972’s Can’t Buy a Thrill, which went on to become a critical and commercial smash. It was followed by 1973’s jazz-rock masterpiece Countdown to Ecstasy, Becker and Fagen’s most consistent record, and surely the greatest album ever named after an orgasm (apologies to Prince’s Come). 

By 1974’s superb Pretzel Logic, Becker and Fagen had dissolved the band, relying instead on crack studio musicians that could realize their increasingly complex compositions. As the disco-and-cocaine nightmare of the late ‘70s closed in on them, Becker and Fagen’s work began to darken, focusing on character studies of criminals, drug dealers, and cuckolded husbands. The classic rock of “Reelin’ in the Years” was replaced by the perfectionist jazz-pop of Aja and the brittle sonic obsessiveness of 1980’s Gaucho. FM listeners who could sing along to “My Old School,” even if they didn’t get the joke, were now faced with “singles” like “Deacon Blues,” the chorus of which reads as follows:

I’ll learn to work the saxophone
I’ll play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

This is one of the strangest lyrics ever put to wax—and it’s attached to a song that’s still played in elevators and department stores all across America. If you listen to “Deacon Blues” and only hear lite pop, the joke’s on you; with just a little close-listening, and the help of that English degree you never thought you’d use, it’s clear that “Deacon Blues” isn’t about a melancholy priest, but about a young hipster celebrating being a drunk, jazz-loving loser in an America that only cares about college football teams. And herein lies the greatness of Steely Dan: they wrote complex, mysterious songs disguised as catchy pop tunes. They’re both the most MOR and least MOR band ever. They’re accessible and subversive at the same time. If that isn’t the definition of great art, what is? 

Becker and Fagen treat songwriting like a Nabokovian game, laughing as they scatter enigmatic clues throughout their lyrics, but leaving the meanings mysterious. Here is a collection of ten of their most impenetrable songs, along with grasping attempts to parse their strange situations and dig up definitions for their more arcane references. 

1. Reelin’ in the Years

Are you reelin’ in the years
Stowin’ away the time
Are you gathering up the tears 
Have you had enough of mine?

Perhaps the most played—and least understood—song in the history of classic rock radio, “Reelin’ in the Years” belongs to that rare category of breakup song, the kiss-off (see also “Like a Rolling Stone”). The narrator addresses a former lover, suggesting that she’s chosen her current lover as a stay against old age (“your everlasting summer…fading fast”). He denies that she’s a genius, despite her claims to the contrary, calls himself a “diamond” that she couldn’t recognize, and here in the chorus, references the number of broken hearts she’s left in her wake, himself among them. There are few more bitter moments in pop music than Fagen’s sneered delivery of the chorus’ last line: “Have you had enough of mine?” 

2. The Boston Rag

Lonnie swept up the playroom
And he swallowed up all he found
It was forty-eight hours ‘til Lonnie came around

One the most opaque songs Becker and Fagen ever wrote, “The Boston Rag” refers not to a song or a newspaper, but to the old days, when the narrator’s gang of college buddies used to have fun (“back in 1965”), when his old flame was “Lady Bayside,” and their mutual friend Lonnie was “the kingpin,” before they were old and bitter. Somehow (“there was nothing I could do”), things went sour, and the song ends with the narrator pointing his “car down Seventh Avenue,” presumably leaving town, while Lonnie downs all the pharmaceuticals from their drug den, knocking himself unconscious. What’s fascinating about this song is how absolutely specific the lyrics are but how absolutely obtuse they remain. There is no Seventh Avenue in Boston – what city are they in? Does Seventh Avenue end in a highway? Or a cliff? 

3. Show Biz Kids

After closing time at the Guernsey Fair
I detect the El Supremo from the room at the top of the stairs

Absolutely baffling. A pitch-black rock vamp about self-centered L.A. movie star types with too much money and not enough sense, “Show Biz Kids” opens with these bizarre but evocative lines. According to a Google search, the Guernsey Fair is a county fair in Old Washington, Ohio held annually since 1847, but your guess is as good as mine as to why Becker and Fagen would reference this particular event. I always picture El Supremo as an obese carnival administrator, crouched behind a card table, counting the money he’s made off all the circus freaks at the fair below, but it could also be a reference to a El Supremo Dominico, a small-time Texas cigar manufacturer. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. 

4. My Old School

I remember the thirty-five sweet goodbyes
When you put me on the Wolverine up to Annandale…

The Annandale referred to herein is Annandale-On-Hudson, the upstate New York town that is home to Bard College. The Wolverine was apparently a student nickname for the passenger train that stopped near Annandale-On-Hudson on its way to Boston. The “thirty five sweet goodbyes” were given by the narrator’s unnamed girlfriend, who, by verse’s end, finds herself “with the working girls [hookers] in the county jail,” having been busted by the Annandale police for smoking dope. Rock snob lore has it that the pot bust was a real event that left Becker and Fagen hating Bard—here they even go so far as to say that they wouldn’t go back there until “California tumbles into the sea,” a cataclysmic event that the songwriters—along with anyone else who has ever spent a week in L.A.—would probably be okay with. 

5. Barrytown

I can tell by what you carry that you come from Barrytown

A small town near Annandale-On-Hudson, Barrytown is home to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s controversial Unification Church, famous for homophobia, arranged marriages, and the execrable journalism standards of The Washington Times, possibly the worst daily newspaper published in the lower forty-eight states. “Moonies,” as cult memberschurchgoers are known, sell (and presumably “carry”) bouquets of flowers, likely a familiar, unwelcome sight for the budding songwriters as they struggled through their bitter final days in upstate New York. 

6. Everyone’s Gone to the Movies

Kids if you want some fun
Mr. LaPage is your man…

A sordid tale. Mr. LaPage comes on to underage girls by showing them porno movies projected on eight millimeter when their parents are away. There is no sleazier come-on in the canon of western popular music than his hissed, “Soon you will be eighteen/I think you know what I mean.” This bizarre portrait of a pedophile is all the creepier—and funnier—because it is delivered alongside a pleasant mid-tempo steel drum beat. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a summer barbecue (wife and kids at picnic table, charcoal on the grill). “Come on,” Mr. LaPage says, “come on.” 

7. Kid Charlemagne

On the hill the stuff was laced with Kerosene 
But yours was kitchen clean
Everyone stopped to stare at your Technicolor motorhome

Detailing as it does the downfall of a sixties designer drug maker, the opening cut from 1976’s underrated The Royal Scam stands as a not-so-solemn epitaph for the flower-power optimism of the sixties (see also “Bodhisattva”). Becker and Fagen were east coast beatniks with nothing but contempt for west coast hippies; they must have reveled in telling the story of an acid dealer who compares himself to an 8th century French king, and ends up getting busted when his Merry Prankster-like painted bus runs out of gas. This derisive attitude toward the longhairs actually aligns Steely Dan with punk rock—but instead of stripping rock back to its down-and-dirty basics, Becker and Fagen empower rock by refining it, bringing in jazz influences, and emphasizing wit and wordplay. They’re baroque artists—the Rubens of the seventies! 

8. Black Cow

On the counter by your keys
Was a book of numbers and your remedies
One of these
Surely will screen out the sorrow
But where are you tomorrow?

By the time of 1977’s Aja Steely Dan had moved past intimate tales of pornographers, and were painting expansive, irony-laced portraits of drunks and losers, like the unnamed narrator of “Black Cow,” who in the opening verses contemplates raiding his estranged lover’s drug stash, or calling her friends to find a date, but decides against it, realizing that though “one of these” may “screen out the sorrow,” she’ll still be gone tomorrow. Simple enough—but then you wonder, what’s he doing in her house

9. Josie

Jo would you love to scrapple?
She’ll never say no
Shine up the battle apple

Celebrating the homecoming, possibly from a prison stay, of the beloved ringleader of a group of hard partiers, “Josie” lays out in detail all of the various revels that will accompany her return. None of these, its worth noting, are good clean fun, involving as the do a motorcycle race, sex on the beach, a street fight, and a gang-bang. Needless to say, the “battle apple” is not meant to be a piece of fruit, nor does “scrapple” refer to a breakfast dish. That’s all you’ll get from me. Use your imagination. 

10. Time Out of Mind

Tonight when I chase the dragon
The water will change to cherry wine
And the silver will turn to gold

A bleak source of black comedy, “Time Out of Mind” is the best song on Gaucho, an uneven record that is nevertheless a favorite of many a writer here at Stylus. Apparently, “chasing the dragon” is forties slang for smoking heroin, and the narrator of this song lives his life “smacked into a trance,” to borrow a line from Pretzel Logic’s “Parker’s Band.” This somehow makes the song both funnier and more poignant, as Becker and Fagen leave the subject to enjoy his high, repeating to himself “It’s perfection and grace / It’s the smile on my face.” Let’s see Sears play that in an elevator! 

Special thanks to the Steely Dan Dictionary and to steelydan.com for the lyrics.

Top Ten Obscure Steely Dan Lyrics