10 Essential New York Artists: #1 Steely Dan

The News: Walter Becker who, along with Donald Fagen, was half of the core duo of Steely Dan, died last week.  

It was only last October when The Dan played a glorious ten night stand at The Beacon.  Footage from the video that reported on those shows was gathered from the two times when I was lucky enough to shoot the group.  Once at The Capitol Theater in 2014 and again at The Beacon in 2015.

Michael McDonald wrote a beautiful remembrance and Walter Becker’s daughter Sayan shared this loving tribute.

Musically, they were of course perfectionists whose albums were populated by artists with jazz chops.  Street smart and cynical in a way only New Yorkers could be, lyrics dismissed out of hand anything smacking of naiveness: 

heard it was you
Talkin’ ’bout a world
Where all is free
It just couldn’t be
And only a fool would say that

The colorful, vaguely degenerate characters created by Becker and Fagen will forever live in our minds.  There is Mr Lapage who we (the kids) were promised was our man if we wanted some fun in Everyone’s Gone To The Movies.  There is the unnamed agent of Sign In Stranger who can make black spots on your past disappear.   There is the daddy of Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More who didn’t need a lock and key for the piece he stowed out on Avenue D!  It was an honor to host an hour long celebration of Walter and Steely Dan this week on WFUV.  The playlist was culled from dozens of requests that I got from people who had been touched by the inimitable outfit.  Here’s the playlist…

Green Earrings 

Doctor Wu 

Kid Charlemagne 

Show Biz Kids Rickie Lee Jones

Here At The Western World 

Any World 

Any Major Dude 

Chain Lightning 

My Old School

Haitian Divorce 

Black Friday 

Home at Last 

Go to #2 Public Enemy

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