Steely Dan: 5 Things That Might Surprise You

We thought we knew everything there was to know about Steely Dan.

But over the past few months we've written a series of posts about things that surprised us. Plus we ran some polls to uncover your favorite Steely Dan albums and favorite guitar solos.

So without further ado, here are 5 things that might surprise you about Steely Dan:


#1 -- Steely Dan Accidentally Lost An Amazing Song Called "The Second Arrangement"

When they were making Gaucho, SD recorded a song called "The Second Arrangement." Like a lot of Dan material of that era, it was a sly, funky track with a tale of love gone wrong.

Problem is, no one ever heard the finished track. That's because a second engineer accidentally erased it, and they were never able to recapture the right vibe for the song again. 

Check out a bootleg version of the song in this article.

#2 -- Steely Dan Made A Bunch Of Cool Outtakes For Gaucho

Gaucho was famously difficult to make. There were mishaps during its recording, like Walter Becker getting hit by a car. In the end it took more than a year to complete, and it probably led to the extended break Steely Dan took after its release.

Donald and Walter tried and eventually rejected a number of tunes for Gaucho. These outtakes sound pretty good to our ears!

Hear 3 bootleg songs and the stories behind them at this link.

#3 -- The Deacon In Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues" Is....

If Alabama gets a cool-sounding name like Crimson Tide, then why can't a loser have a cool name, too?

That's the premise behind the classic track, "Deacon Blues." Donald and Walter must have been watching an L.A. Rams football game while writing this tune, because the Deacon in the song is based on...

L.A. Rams lineman Deacon Jones. To get the whole story, click on this link.

#4 -- Steely Dan's Best Guitar Solo Is....

This is based on a poll we ran of thousands of Gooseneck fans. There are so many great Steely Dan solos, from Elliott Randall's indelible intro to "Reelin' in the Years" to Jay Graydon's effortless turn on "Peg."  

We got lots of feedback on this one, lots of write-in candidates and plenty of heated discussions on the relative merits of guitar slingers Denny Dias, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Elliott Randall, Jay Graydon, Larry Carlton and of course, Walter Becker himself. 

This one came down to a run-off between Larry Carlton's "Kid Charlemagne," Jeff "Skunk" Baxter's "My Old School" and Elliott Randall's "Reelin' In The Years."

In the end, it was Larry Carlton's mind-bending mastery on "Kid Charlemagne" that took the prize. Click on this link to find out who came in 2nd and 3rd and see the complete poll results.

#5 -- Steely Dan's Best Album Is...

No, we weren't surprised that Aja topped the list in this reader's poll of Steely Dan's best albums.

But we were surprised by which ones came in 2nd, 3rd and on down the list. Was it Gaucho, the final entry in their original 7 albums of the '70s? Or an earlier, more rocking album like Royal Scam?

Find out at this link.

Leave A Comment

Do you know any other surprising things about Steely Dan? What's your favorite Dan album or song? Leave a comment and let us know!

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7 comments

  • William Howard
    William Howard Florida
    I don't know if you guys published this or not, but did you know the band "Poco" did a cover of a Steely Dan "rare bird" called "Dallas", which I believe was on a four-song EP, or that was the way I heard it. I never got to hear that EP or the original version of SD' recording of it, but if you listen to Poco's version, you pretty much just have to swap out the lead vocal with Mr. Fagen, you can hear it clearly, a faithful cover!... Here's a YouTube link, no video but the album cut somebody cut...

    I don't know if you guys published this or not, but did you know the band "Poco" did a cover of a Steely Dan "rare bird" called "Dallas", which I believe was on a four-song EP, or that was the way I heard it. I never got to hear that EP or the original version of SD' recording of it, but if you listen to Poco's version, you pretty much just have to swap out the lead vocal with Mr. Fagen, you can hear it clearly, a faithful cover!...
    Here's a YouTube link, no video but the album cut somebody cut...

  • AARON CARR
    AARON CARR DETROIT , MICHIGAN
    THANKS YOU

    THANKS YOU

  • Tavares, FL
    I feel for the number of measures to accomplish the solo after 6 others tried it before he did, and the popularity of the song- my vote goes hands down to Jay Graydon's masterpiece solo in the track "Peg" from the incredible album of masterpieces "Aja"... ! -JC

    I feel for the number of measures to accomplish the solo after 6 others tried it before he did, and the popularity of the song- my vote goes hands down to Jay Graydon's masterpiece solo in the track "Peg" from the incredible album of masterpieces "Aja"... ! -JC

  • Tavares, FL
    ...In addition to my previous statement I feel Larry Carlton's phenomenal solo in "Kid Charlemagne" I would also agree if it were number one, if and only if, Jay Graydon's work of art masterpiece solo in "Peg" would have to take a very close second place if not tied for first place! And that's all I have to say about that! :). --JC

    ...In addition to my previous statement I feel Larry Carlton's phenomenal solo in "Kid Charlemagne" I would also agree if it were number one, if and only if, Jay Graydon's work of art masterpiece solo in "Peg" would have to take a very close second place if not tied for first place! And that's all I have to say about that! smile. --JC

  • Martin Weeks
    Martin Weeks Melbourne
    As far as funky guitar works on Steely Dan Songs, I've always been partial to the guitar work on the song (spl here) Owesaka. All the guitarists that worked with The Dan are exceptional. They all have special skills and styles that all work for specific songs. That's probably why SD worked with all of them. Each had a unique way of playing that worked for one song but may not have been right for another.

    As far as funky guitar works on Steely Dan Songs, I've always been partial to the guitar work on the song (spl here) Owesaka.
    All the guitarists that worked with The Dan are exceptional. They all have special skills and styles that all work for specific songs. That's probably why SD worked with all of them. Each had a unique way of playing that worked for one song but may not have been right for another.

  • BOB HARKINS
    BOB HARKINS MARLTON, NJ
    FOR ME LARRY CARLTON WAS THE BEST GUITARIST ON ANY ALBUM BUT MOSTLY ON ROYAL SCAM. "DON'T TAKE ME ALIVE" MAY WELL BE MY FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME BUT CARLTON JUST MAKES THAT ALBUM. i CAN'T IMAGIN ANYONE ELSE PLAYING ON IT.

    FOR ME LARRY CARLTON WAS THE BEST GUITARIST ON ANY ALBUM BUT MOSTLY ON ROYAL SCAM. "DON'T TAKE ME ALIVE" MAY WELL BE MY FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME BUT CARLTON JUST MAKES THAT ALBUM. i CAN'T IMAGIN ANYONE ELSE PLAYING ON IT.

  • Dean
    Dean http://www.playguitarlive.com/the-gig-files-larry-carlton/
    Larry Carlton did a great job considering his solo was mostly improvized.

    Larry Carlton did a great job considering his solo was mostly improvized.

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