Who's The Deacon In Steely Dan's Deacon Blues?

​If Alabama gets a cool-sounding name like Crimson Tide, why can't a loser get a cool name too? That's the premise behind Donald and Walter's classic "Deacon Blues."

They wrote this one in Malibu when they were at the height of their powers making Aja. But this track has an unmistakable New York jazz sound and makes us wonder whether Donald and Walter were homesick for the Big Apple at the time.

Turns out the name Deacon was taken from Deacon Jones, the NFL lineman during that era in the '70s. Donald and Walter weren't football fans, they just liked the sound of the name and the way "deacon blues" contrasted with "crimson tide."

One of our favorite stories from this article comes from Pete Christlieb, who played the iconic sax solo in the song. He was the tenor player in the Johnny Carson-era Tonight Show band. One evening after taping that show, he went down to the studio and cut this solo for the Dan.

He said it took all of 30 minutes. The next thing he knew he was hearing himself "in every airport bathroom in the world." Read more about it by clicking the image below.



Leave A Comment

Now it's your turn. What's your favorite Steely Dan album? Favorite Dan song? Leave a comment and let us know!

And if you like this post, you might also like:
Steely Dan's Aja Is Pure Genius
Steely Dan's Long-Lost Song "Second Arrangement"


 

48 comments

  • Warren Tanner
    Warren Tanner Williamston SC
    I thank you 4 the info. and would like any more tidbits like you want to send . I really like your Music Thanks again Warren Tanner

    I thank you 4 the info. and would like any more tidbits like you want to send .
    I really like your Music

    Thanks again Warren Tanner

  • Shawn Bracey
    Shawn Bracey Muscle Shoals Ala
    Every airport bathroom, are you kidding me? I thought that was David Sanborn. I love these little bits SD trivia... Thank You

    Every airport bathroom, are you kidding me? I thought that was David Sanborn. I love these little bits SD trivia... Thank You

  • Dawn
    Dawn Monson,MA
    My favorite album varies all the time! These days it's Count Down to Extacy ... but I love them all!!

    My favorite album varies all the time! These days it's Count Down to Extacy ... but I love them all!!

  • Joe Mattei
    Joe Mattei Orlando Fl
    Take a big black cow (drink).

    Take a big black cow (drink).

  • Janice Ratcliffe Hall
    Janice Ratcliffe Hall Ruskin, Florida
    i love all Steely Dan music ? but my favorite is "Can't Buy a Thrill".

    i love all Steely Dan music ? but my favorite is "Can't Buy a Thrill".

  • Vicki
    Vicki Houston
    I love "My Old School" from the album Countdown to Ecstasy album. The guitar solo that frames the verses and then morphs into an extended solo, yeah that song is life!

    I love "My Old School" from the album Countdown to Ecstasy album. The guitar solo that frames the verses and then morphs into an extended solo, yeah that song is life!

  • AZMissy
    AZMissy Phoenix
    All are favs...Royal Scam if I had to pick one album...

    All are favs...Royal Scam if I had to pick one album...

  • Mike D
    Mike D Jersey
    I usually lean towards Royal Scam (Kid Charlemagne) but there is no bad answer.

    I usually lean towards Royal Scam (Kid Charlemagne) but there is no bad answer.

  • Martha
    Martha Colorado
    Aja has to be my favorite But anything you guys do is amazing!

    Aja has to be my favorite
    But anything you guys do is amazing!

  • John Rivera
    John Rivera Kearny
    My favorite album is Katy lied but they are all good albums

    My favorite album is Katy lied but they are all good albums

  • David Galloway
    David Galloway NashVegas, TN
    Love all the Steely Dan- However I liked 'Hey. Nineteen' off of 'Gaucho' album!

    Love all the Steely Dan- However I liked 'Hey. Nineteen' off of 'Gaucho' album!

  • Jorge
    Jorge La Jolla
    Definitely, Ricky don't loose that number.

    Definitely, Ricky don't loose that number.

  • Debbie
    Debbie Colorado
    Love Steely Dan, Love Deacon Blues! Love all of the albums! Just love Steely Dan!!!!!!!!!!

    Love Steely Dan, Love Deacon Blues! Love all of the albums! Just love Steely Dan!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lois
    Lois Door county wi
    Love can't buy a thrill favorite song midnight cruiser and deacon blues

    Love can't buy a thrill favorite song midnight cruiser and deacon blues

  • Vern
    Vern Denver
    Cant Buy a Thrill is my fav with Pretzel Logic second. I Love the older stuff, the newer is good, but I love my old school. Haha.

    Cant Buy a Thrill is my fav with Pretzel Logic second. I Love the older stuff, the newer is good, but I love my old school. Haha.

  • David McDonald
    David McDonald Birmingham, Alabama
    It just doesn't get any better than Steely Dan!!!

    It just doesn't get any better than Steely Dan!!!

  • Psychdelicrelic
    Psychdelicrelic The cosmos
    Till I don't lost that number....

    Till I don't lost that number....

  • Joe
    Joe Chgo
    Fav song is GAUCHO. Great structure, vocals, harmonies, melody, and a chorus that's a huge "hook". Very under rated, in my opinion.

    Fav song is GAUCHO. Great structure, vocals, harmonies, melody, and a chorus that's a huge "hook". Very under rated, in my opinion.

  • John
    John Scottsdale AZ
    from that album ----Black Cow ,,,,,love the drums in I got the news ,,,,

    from that album ----Black Cow ,,,,,love the drums in I got the news ,,,,

  • the krewzer
    the krewzer
    Can't Buy a Thrill! Reelin' in the Years was my class song!

    Can't Buy a Thrill! Reelin' in the Years was my class song!

  • Michael Couteter
    Michael Couteter Alexandria La.
    If SD does it, I love it.....I have personal like of Pretzel Logic...

    If SD does it, I love it.....I have personal like of Pretzel Logic...

  • Mike Nieradka
    Mike Nieradka Long Island
    Favorite Steely Dan album.....Pretzel Logic Favorite song...Brooklyn Holds the Charmer Over Me

    Favorite Steely Dan album.....Pretzel Logic

    Favorite song...Brooklyn Holds the Charmer Over Me

  • Todd Marans
    Todd Marans San Francisco
    Deacon Blue is my favorite Steely Dan song. I am also quite partial to Don't Take Me Alive.

    Deacon Blue is my favorite Steely Dan song. I am also quite partial to Don't Take Me Alive.

  • Waymond
    Waymond Detroit
    Aja....and Deacon Blues is one of my all time favorite songs PERIOD.

    Aja....and Deacon Blues is one of my all time favorite songs PERIOD.

  • Lance
    Lance Paris, France
    Fav. "Since you've been gone".

    Fav. "Since you've been gone".

  • Tony DeGregorio
    Tony DeGregorio Niagara Falls New York
    The Royal Scam and the tune Kid Charlemange

    The Royal Scam and the tune Kid Charlemange

  • Marty Saint
    Marty Saint Tampa, Florida
    EVERYTHING STEELY DAN DID, PAST, PRESENT

    EVERYTHING STEELY DAN DID, PAST, PRESENT

  • Zen
    Zen SLC, UT
    Gaucho was my favorite album for years, then The Royal Scam struck me. My favorite Dan song is Third World Man.

    Gaucho was my favorite album for years, then The Royal Scam struck me. My favorite Dan song is Third World Man.

  • Will
    Will Spfld MA
    Deacon Blues. Reminds me of summer fun music collage girls and fun. Weird I know. :)

    Deacon Blues. Reminds me of summer fun music collage girls and fun. Weird I know. smile

  • Glenn
    Glenn Indiana
    Kid Charlemagne!! So classy....yet it now reminds me of the drug epidemic here in the Midwest

    Kid Charlemagne!! So classy....yet it now reminds me of the drug epidemic here in the Midwest

  • Bill
    Bill Philly
    Reelin' in the years!!

    Reelin' in the years!!

  • Alleta Burton
    Alleta Burton Texas
    I believe I have all of their albums & loved them all. My favorire sobg was Hey 19 though! The beat ob that always helped me get a "groove on".

    I believe I have all of their albums & loved them all. My favorire sobg was Hey 19 though! The beat ob that always helped me get a "groove on".

  • Terri
    Terri Denver, CO
    Are you kidding?! I own every Steely Dan CD there is. I don't have an all time fave because they are ALL my faves. But one song I tend to really really love is Hatian Divorce. Next I love Cousin Dupree! ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

    Are you kidding?!
    I own every Steely Dan CD there is.
    I don't have an all time fave because they are ALL my faves. But one song I tend to really really love is Hatian Divorce.
    Next I love Cousin Dupree! ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

  • Sal ruiz
    Sal ruiz Chicago il usa
    Hey nineteen .i love all their stuff.my fav band of all time.my you i was born during their hey day.mom must of been listening while preggo.lol

    Hey nineteen .i love all their stuff.my fav band of all time.my you i was born during their hey day.mom must of been listening while preggo.lol

  • P.Rannick
    P.Rannick Pittsburg Pa.
    Aja my favorite album....but just love Tommorows Girls❤️

    Aja my favorite album....but just love Tommorows Girls❤️

  • Ray
    Ray NV
    Saw Steely Dan in concert this year for the first time. They didn't play Deacon Blues, which is my fav. Great show anyway, but now I have to see them again.

    Saw Steely Dan in concert this year for the first time. They didn't play Deacon Blues, which is my fav. Great show anyway, but now I have to see them again.

  • Denny
    Denny WA
    My Rival (from the Gaucho album)

    My Rival (from the Gaucho album)

  • Curtis
    Curtis 34480
    Aja!

    Aja!

  • JamieSoulshine
    JamieSoulshine Norfolk, VA
    Time out of Mind, Bad Sneakers, Aja, Deacon Blues, I can't pick one song. I can't even pick 1 album.

    Time out of Mind, Bad Sneakers, Aja, Deacon Blues, I can't pick one song. I can't even pick 1 album.

  • MikeyD
    MikeyD Columbus, Ohio
    Aja is my fave album simply because it was the first time I ever heard them. I was amazed! Tnx for sharing!

    Aja is my fave album simply because it was the first time I ever heard them. I was amazed! Tnx for sharing!

  • Mark MacPhail
    Mark MacPhail Leesburg, FL
    Every time the name Steely Dan hits my ears my head is instantly filled with classic after classic. You can't even think about picking 1 song because the moment you do another comes up that you love just as much. They truly are a one of a kind sound and feel. Their rock jazz fusion style is epic and will stay as one of my favorites until I depart this world. Why even this morning making my tea i was singing Babylon Sister and Kid Charlemagne. Probably spelled it wrong but who cares its the bomb!

    Every time the name Steely Dan hits my ears my head is instantly filled with classic after classic. You can't even think about picking 1 song because the moment you do another comes up that you love just as much. They truly are a one of a kind sound and feel. Their rock jazz fusion style is epic and will stay as one of my favorites until I depart this world. Why even this morning making my tea i was singing Babylon Sister and Kid Charlemagne. Probably spelled it wrong but who cares its the bomb!

  • Karen
    Karen Panama City, Florida
    Pretzel Logic is my fav!!

    Pretzel Logic is my fav!!

  • Linda
    Linda Bloomington Indiana
    Don't Take Me Alive it's one of my favorite songs I love them all though

    Don't Take Me Alive it's one of my favorite songs I love them all though

  • Karen
    Karen Panama City, Florida
    Pretzel Logic!!!!

    Pretzel Logic!!!!

  • Rob Harrison
    Rob Harrison Honolulu, HI
    AJA album and song

    AJA album and song

  • Vern
    Vern Phoenix
    Can't Buy a Thrill. Pearl of the Quarter or is it Only a Fool Would Say That?

    Can't Buy a Thrill. Pearl of the Quarter or is it Only a Fool Would Say That?

  • Frank The Tank
    Frank The Tank Marin Co, CA
    Many SD song has been my favorite one time or another the past 45 years. Presently it is “Midnight Cruiser”.

    Many SD song has been my favorite one time or another the past 45 years. Presently it is “Midnight Cruiser”.

  • Orkke
    Orkke Alexandria, LA
    SD got me through Disco ? Countdown to Ecstasy, but like everyone else, love ‘em all!!!!

    SD got me through Disco ? Countdown to Ecstasy, but like everyone else, love ‘em all!!!!

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