Tonight, in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria hotel - among a few other greats, Steely Dan will be inducted to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.. And so they should be !
The sound , song writing and arrangements are led by the talented duo of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. They always did it their way and their unique sound still stands the test of time. If you don't believe me, go home tonight - put on their first record, Can't Buy A Thrill, and listen to the sounds they were putting out back then - (1972 is the copyright on that record !!)
They came to be known as the biggest perfectionists in the business - and it soon became a priority on every musicians list - to work with Becker and Fagen. Similar to actors willing to do anything just to have a part in a Woody Allen movie. Studio musicians have lined up over the years just to play a single note on a Steely Dan record. Sometimes that's all that happens. There are classic stories about many musicians coming in to try and lay down the peg solo - and on the new DVD "The Making of Aja", Donald and Walter sit in the studio and play you all the takes that didn't make it and why. Folks - this is brilliant to hear.
Their sarcasim over the years has been priceless. They are genuinely press and camera shy and til recently - probably most people had no idea what these guys looked like - which is probably fine with them. We never became familiar with them over the years as we do with other aritsts.
When they released their live album in 1993 - they did "Rockline" to promote it as well as 2 gigs in NY City - (Roseland and Letterman - they called it their Upper West Side tour of Manhattan). On the show they were asked , why they never toured (or stopped - because they did tour in 1974) - Walter answered that they simply forgot to tour...and then Fagen was asked, well how much heat did you get from the record label for not touring? Fagen replied, "About 103 ..in the shade." This is the extent of the answers you get from these guys...and why so many journalists duck after they ask Donald or Walter a question during an interview.
Recently - Steely Dan picked up 3 Grammy Awards for their latest record "Two Against Nature." Folks 9 records and 30 years later -this is the least that NARAS can do. There is no way to measure the amount of influence these guys have had on all musicians of all genres. One of their Grammy wins was album of the year - ALBUM OF THE YEAR !!!! But did we see one photo of them in any of the Grammy re cap pieces anywhere?? - Zero ! Why? Oh - "who thought they would win" said one journalist. Are you kidding me? Just because no one knows who they are and no one expected them to win..magazines decide - well, whatever - don't run the photo-- no one will know. This is 100% utterly dumb, shallow and dishonest and disgusting - All of you are assholes ! How dare you ! they won ALBUM OF THE YEAR !!! ok -Remember last year , Santana picked up 8 grammy awards including ALBUM OF THE YEAR - ? His face was everywhere. Steely Dan - gets no respect this year?
Whatever - I assume all of those journalists don't own any Steely Dan records and think "Do It Again" is the only single.
Bottom Line - at the end of the day..and the 9 records over 30 years..the music speaks for itself. All of these records are so well put together that some of the greatest engineers cannot figure them out. Also, some of the biggest audiophiles out there - have testified that they test their new systems by playing a Steely Dan record. - This is so true. I have all the LPs and you can't beat it. Try putting on Katy Lied and listening to the guitar solo on "Your Gold Teeth II." (solo done by Walter Becker and Denny Dias.) - You'll think you bought a new stereo. Same goes for Gaucho and the guitar solo on "Glamour Profession" (solo by Steve Khan).
If you go to the official Steely Dan website - today, there is a long "thank you" list to all the musicians who played on the records over the years from Donald and Walter. This list contains some of the best musicians in the world.
These guys deserve it all - and I want to thank them for all of the great music over the years. All of their songs are like mini movies and have a place in different times and places in all our lives.
They are the quintesential New Yorkers. Remember in Annie Hall when Woody Allen is forced to go to LA for Christmas and he becomes all disoriented because he has to leave NY ? Well - I will go out on a limb and say - these guys have just as much NY City in their blood as "Alvy Singer" in Annie Hall.
I am glad to be a part of it - I have seen Fagen thru the years when he resurged and did the Rock N Soul gigs in the early 90's at the now extinct "LoneStar Roadhouse." Those gigs were priceless. Picture it like seeing Fagen play in your living room - that' s how intimate it was. I have run into Walter Becker once on 74th and Madison. He was very cool - but I have to credit my wife for running into both of them on the same day - and getting both autographs for me. They were only too happy. Really - she ran into Walter on Madison and 77th - early in the day one day - then later, she runs into BOTH Becker and Fagen together in almost the same spot - (and only my wife would recognize the both of them !)
So tonight is a special night in music history. I am proud to be a fan of Steely Dan and am very happy they are getting recognition. I am sure the jams will be priceless tonight as well as the induction. Tune in Wednesday at 9pm on VH-1 - as they present their version of what went down (unfortunately this is the edited version which will be all cut up and ruined but will give us a little taste.)
So now that the juices are flowing again- we can only hope the recordings will continue - if not , we can all go "Back..jack..and do it again" with all of their classic priceless recordings.