On Sept 3, 2017, the music world mourned the loss of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker, who had died that morning at his home in Maui, Hawaii.
Steely Dan were one of the greatest bands of 1970s, issuing a string of seven perfect albums between 1972 and 1980. At the center of the band was its two leaders: guitarist/bassist Walter Becker and vocalist/keyboardist Donald Fagen, who had co-founded the group in 1972 and wrote every one of the band’s songs. The group became well known for their witty, sardonic lyrics, their smooth jazz-rock sound and their famously meticulous work in the studio, where they fine-tuned every note and melody on each one of their compositions. At the same time, they were also a major force on the pop charts, scoring several hit singles like “Do It Again”, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, “Deacon Blues” and “Hey Nineteen”. When they reunited in 1993, the famously studio-bound band opted to go on tour, which resulted in their second life as one of the top concert draws in North America up through the second decade of the new millennium.
Although we had been planning to do a Steely Dan episode of This is Pop? since we launched the podcast this spring, we decided to record one this week because we were already in the midst of discussing the band’s brilliant discography and lasting legacy following Becker’s death.
For this episode, This is Pop?‘s 12th installment, I was joined by TYF music writer Jon Winkler to discuss the band’s career and their nine albums. Because both of us have ties to Rhode Island, we also discuss the Aug. 31 departure of Providence alternative rock station WBRU from the Ocean State’s airwaves. We also share some of our favorite tracks from the last few months, including tunes by Charli XCX, Game Theory, Brand New, LCD Soundsystem, Gabbie Hannah and Portugal. The Man
You can listen to (and download) this episode of TYF’s This is Pop? Podcast below via Soundcloud.
We have also prepared a Spotify playlist for this episode, featuring our favorite Steely Dan songs, including several we discussed during our conversation.
Also, here’s the episode of The Nerdwriter on Steely Dan’s studio perfectionism – and the recording of “Deacon Blues” in particular – that was touched upon in this episode. It’s a great watch if you’ve never seen it.