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Walter Becker 1950 - 2017

Walter Becker is dead, who with Donald Fagen, made up 'Steely Dan' and wrote some of the best songs ever written.

Here's Donald Fagen's statement;

"Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.

"We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues. 

"Walter had a very rough childhood – I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.
"His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

"I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band."

Steely Dan wrote complex, subversive, serious and funny music in an era of absurdity and then would spend years in the studio annoying an army of session musicians while they tried to perfect them.

Their lyrics were obscure and always a delight. Part of the joy was that their tracks were so immaculate that the middle of the road radio stations were happy to play them while underneath the lyrics were 'X-Rated'.  

In 1976 I didn't have any money or record player. I had a cassette player instead and cassettes were really expensive. It meant you couldn't afford to make a mistake when you bought one.

I bought 'The Royal Scam' on the basis of a brief hit I heard. To my horror the rest of the cassette wasn't the same - it seemed like a disaster. I couldn't give up on my huge investment so I had to work at it.

I dug through the jazz and the crazy lyrics to find gold - fell in love with their subversion and started to enjoy their world of gangsters, drug addicts, prostitutes, corrupt police men....all the losers and failures of this world.

I let their madness run with mine.

This is 'Midnight Cruiser' from 'Can't buy a thrill';

Felonius, my old friend
Step on in and let me shake your hand
So glad that you're here again
For one more time let your madness run with mine
In streets still unseen, we'll find somehow
No time is better than now

Tell me where are you drivin' Midnight Cruiser?
Where is your bounty of fortune and fame?
I am another gentleman loser
Drive me to Harlem or somewhere the same

The world that we used to know
People tell me it don't turn no more
The places we used to go
Familiar faces that ain't smilin' like before
The time of our time has come and gone
I fear we been waitin' too long

Tell me where are you drivin' Midnight Cruiser?
Where is your bounty of fortune and fame?
I am another gentleman loser
Drive me to Harlem or somewhere the same.

Go on YouTube, search for Steely Dan and leave it on 'Auto
Play forever.

Farewell Walter.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Contact me: [email protected]

This post first appeared on Help Me Sort Out St Peter's!, please read the originial post: here

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Walter Becker 1950 - 2017


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