Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: steely dan

Steel Your Dan Right Off Your Head

Sir, may I interest you in some of The Dan?

“The what? Get the hell away from me.”

I’m talking about The Dan, sir.

“You’re a nut, aren’t you?”

Nutty for The Dan, sir.

“I’m gonna call the cops.”

Do so! And when you get them on the line, tell them about The Dan!

“I have a bat in my trunk. I’m gonna get it if you don’t stop being weird.”

Will you bribe me with it?


Will you offer me the bat in exchange for the cessation of Danliness?

“No. I’ll hit you with it.”

Worth it. I’ll take a beating for The Dan.

“Please go away.”


My Old Blues

Me and Matt Tahaney used to drive into The City to see this band. They were called Beyond Blue, and they played The Bottom Line on Bleecker Street right down from where a guy named Bob used to sell records. We had terrible fake ID’s, but this was before magnetic strips and holograms, and the bouncer didn’t give a shit, anyway.

We knew the guitarist, Steve. Everyone called him Smiley because he always looked so serious when he played. The lead singer’s name isn’t coming back, but I can still see him on the two-foot tall stage: his hair was perfect. If you saw him on the street, you’d say, “That guy’s a lead singer;” he had skinny legs and cheekbones; his shirt would be unbuttoned by the third song, and off by the fifth. The bass player looked like Jon Lovitz, and they’re jammed together, all eight of them, into a tiny space built for comedians and folk singers. There were eight of them because they had a horn section.

Heaven’s got a horn section. Something about a horn section, especially in a small room made of brick

The sax player wore a yarmulke and had curly hair. He looked like a rabbinical student, possibly because he was. The trombonist was the band’s clown: he would fuck around behind whomever was soloing and do silly little goat dances while he shook his maracas. His name was Gary, and he sung the closer. Same closer every show. Goofy 12-bar that sounded like something Louie Armstrong and his Hot Five would have tossed off on a Tuesday in Tulsa.

The lyrics started like this:

Ruby, Ruby
Roll me a joint.
Roll is as big as a spliff.

And they didn’t get much smarter, but after only one chorus the entire room could sing along. They did. We did.

Beyond Blue played mostly originals, but they did covers, too. All horn stuff, and the section could blow. Late In The Evening by Paul Simon, and the three of them would hit their entrance after the line about stepping outside and smoking a jay. It was a fine sound.

And just about every show, the keyboardist would hit a few chords–not even chords, parts of ’em, little clusters of 9ths and 13ths and all the jazzbo bullshit–and then we’d get a story about white boy problems, about safety schools and rich kids and the Upstate New York that painters used to jerk off to. The guitar solo only sounded right on a Stratocaster and the horn section would chirp in behind the lyrics and the harmonies; it would all bounce off those tight brick walls and we would cheer loudly when California crumbled into the sea.

This is how the original went:

There’s no tape of Beyond Blue doing it, none that I can find, so it’s gone just like Walter Becker is.

Play it loud.

And Now Just The Men

Virgil sang of arms and the man, but some people just sing about men (some of whom are armed).

That sentence could qualify as a war crime.

There’s a classical allusion and parentheses. How can a sentence with a classical allusion and parentheses not be outstanding?

I dunno, but you figured it out.

Quiet or I bring back Sleepy Batman. We come now, Enthusiasts, to a short, completely biased, and totally inconsequential list of the Greatest Songs With Men’s Names In The Title. I begin by informing you that I will be ignoring all of your suggestions and choosing my own songs, some of which will be selected just to annoy you.

Why are you like this?

It’s tough love.

No, it’s just being rude.

We’ll start off with the winner. None of this building-up-to-number-one bullshit: I’ll tell you what the Best EVAR blah blah is, and then the runners-up. Feel free to ripcord out after this.

Enthusiasts, it wasn’t even fucking close. If this contest were a prize-fight, they would’ve called it in the first; if it were a presidential election, it would’ve been Reagan/Mondale. Not only is Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner the best song with a man’s name in the title, it’s also the best song…

  • …about mercenaries.
  • …about vengeful ghosts.
  • …that mention Mombasa.

Plus it’s got one of Warren’s perfectly ambiguous ending lines, second best only to The French Inhaler’s “She said ‘So long, Norman.'”

Real Zevonophiles will wonder why Boom Boom Mancini isn’t included in the list, but they shouldn’t because here it is:

Now, there have been a shitload of songs about boxers and some of them have been brilliant, so this isn’t the best song ever written about boxers in general. It is, however, the best song about Boom Boom Mancini. (Unless Tigra and Bunny’s We Like The Cars That Go Boom is secretly about Boom Boom Mancini. That shit’s my jam.)

And now we come to Billy, Don’t Be A Hero.


You’re adamant.

I’ll burn the house down while we sleep.


Watching you, asshole.

How about Tom Sawyer?

Fuck, yeah. That jam’s my shit.

There might not be a better song about libertarian-flavored rugged individualism.

Also: Geddy Lee’s giant grandma sunglasses.

Okay, I lied: this one’s from the Comment Section. Andy Griffith and the Darlings (who were a real bluegrass band named The Dillards) on the old Andy Griffith Show. The reason there was a song break on the program is because they made 249 in eight years, which is over 30 a season. There’s only so many Otis the Drunk jokes you can write.

What’s with all this hillbilly music? This is some white bullshit.”

I know that voice.

“Voice of a genius, you cracker motherfucker.”



MISTER DAVIS! Mister Davis! Stop shooting guns to make your point.

“Wouldn’t have to if you weren’t so dumb.”

I was getting to you.


“Miles Davis don’t get gotten to, motherfucker.”

Sorry! Sorry, wow. You’re very mean.

“Shut up.”


“Play my music.”


This was recorded 4/10/70 at Fillmore West; guess who else was on the bill. Phil writes about feeling intimidated about going on after Miles, which is understandable. I’m impressed they stayed at all: I would have gone home.

“Where are you going?”

“What are we gonna do after that bullshit? Choogle? Are we gonna choogle? Nah, fuck that. I’m going to grad school.”

If he was from Venus, would he feed us with a spoon?
If he was from Mars, wouldn’t that be cool?
Standing right on campus, would he stamp us in a file?
Hangin’ down in Memphis all the while.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round
They sing “I’m in love. What’s that song? I’m in love with that song.”

Cerebral rape and pillage in a village of his choice.
Invisible man who can sing in a visible voice.
Feeling like a hundred bucks, exchanging good lucks face to face.
Checkin’ his stash by the trash at St. Mark’s place.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round
They sing “I’m in love. What’s that song? I’m in love with that song.”

I never travel far,
Without a little Big Star

Runnin’ ’round the house, Mickey Mouse and the Tarot cards.
Falling asleep with a flop pop video on.
If he was from Venus, would he meet us on the moon?
If he died in Memphis, then that’d be cool, babe.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round
They sing “I’m in love. What’s that song? I’m in love with that song.”

“I’m in love. What’s that song? I’m in love with that song.”

And that’s all that needs to be said about Alex Chilton by The Replacements. (Except for noting the irony in writing a song praising a songwriter that’s better than anything the titular songwriter ever wrote.)

Lemme ask you something, though.

Come closer.

It’s important.

Is there gas in the car?

Yes, there’s gas in the car.

(I always pretend that the line “Your low-rent friends are dead” is really “Your low-rent friends are Dead.” Anyone else?)

And that’s that.

Why can’t you write like a normal person?

Normal people don’t write.

Yeah, okay.