Not by accident!


Donald Fagan and Walter Becker of Steely Dan

Sometimes I like to play a little game with friends to guess their favorite type of music. I must know a little about his or her personality to make an attempt at figuring their musical tastes’, but I’m pretty accurate at my assessments.  I bring up this game I play because my own musical preferences are a little difficult to pin down. I have been exposed to all genres of music and my appreciation for all types of music has grown greatly. However, my own listening predilection is more artists driven than even I would admit. Recently I found myself listening to “Steely Dan” and enjoying their music as I always have.  Donald Fagen and Walter Becker founded and have successfully made the group one of the most critically acclaimed acts in the music industry. Throughout the years I have followed the careers of many high-profile ex-Steely Dan members like, Michael McDonald, Jeff Pocaro, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and more thus proving the point of my musical tastes’ being artist driven. Although, when it comes to Steely Dan there are more factors that fuel my appreciation for their music. After reading more about the process of their songwriting and recording, I fully understood why I liked their sound. It was because Fagen and Becker were tireless perfectionists when it came to the sound they wanted to produce. I can remember times in the studio having an idea about what sound or effect I wanted only to change when someone presented a better idea or I stumbled upon a sound I liked more. But with Steely Dan absolutely nothing is done by accident. I was recently watching an old interview with the late longtime Steely Dan engineer Roger Nichols who was an integral part of the groups’ sound talk about studio sessions with Fagen and Becker. He said Steely Dan recordings included some techniques that were not widely used until after their songs were released. Yes, they were breaking new musical and recording ground. Also, the studio musicians used are a “Who’s who” list of great jazz musicians. Fagen and Becker’s arrangements were so complex they cried for fine musicianship. One fellow musician said that having Steely Dan on your resume was something special throughout the music industry. Therefore, if you like Steely Dan music there is a good reason why you do. Every recording was well-crafted and nothing was done by accident. I hope you all enjoy the video of a live performance of “Peg”. Great song!

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