My Dad has one of the most eclectic tastes of music I know. While I appreciated the vocals of New Edition members and Michael Jackson growing up, my Dad listened to an array of music. I mean everything, from Rock to Gangsta Rap. So growing up I often listened to music of artists whose names I did not know AND not my preferred musical genre… I mean there were several 8 to 10 hour car rides and well my Dad needed his music his music to drive…and he needed it blaring loudly.
Fast forward to 2017. My Dad called me to tell me how excited he was about tickets to see Steely Dan. And as an extra bonus… he invited me and some of my friends. We accepted the offer and I started to think …Who is Steely Dan? Thanks to the internet… I was pleasantly surprise to find out that not only is Steely Dan not a person (its group) BUT I know quite a few Steely Dan songs word for word, AND their music is sampled. Take a listen:
“Champion” – Kanye West sampled “Kid Charlemagne” – Steely Dan
In addition to the sampling, I know a bunch of Steely Dan songs because of looooong car rides. Despite my efforts to turn up my Walkman, and later my CD player, the sounds of the non preferred genres would pierce through the head phones… and on an 8 to 10 hour road trip…this left me with no choice but to listen to the sounds in the car: “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and “Dirty Work” are just two of the songs I got to enjoy when my AA batteries died.
While Kanye and others helped to enlighten me to the stylistic rhythms of Steely Dan, recenly finding out I know songs like “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number and “Dirty Work” gave me more than enlightenment. Those songs hold with them the memories of road trips, fights for room in the back seat, wind from I-95, and anticipation of getting to our final destination. While I may not have known it was Steely Dan playing in the background… there is a level of familiarity I have with Steely Dan music that I don’t have with other artists I tend to favor.
So to answer the question… Who is Steely Dan? Steely Dan for me is a montage of childhood memories some of which were acquired while riding in the back seat of an American sedan with my family (my Dad only drove American cars growing up). I look forward to the concert and I look forward to creating more memories with Steely Dan playing in the background… except this time I will know it’s Steely Dan. 🙂