The Best Steely Dan Songs, Ranked

(via uproxx) by Steven Hyden

One of the strangest (and most heartwarming) developments in recent years is the hip-ification of 1970s snarky jazz-rock institution Steely Dan. Once the butt of endless “graying ponytail” jokes by insufferable indie dweebs, Steely Dan has somehow become part of the indie dweeb canon, a turn confirmed by numerous indie music sites writing thoughtfully and enthusiastically about the band’s nine studio albums released over the course of 31 years.

Some have claimed that this embrace of The Dan is “revisionism,” but that’s not exactly right. In the ’70s, Steely Dan was widely regarded as one of the top American bands of the era. They were commercially successful and critically acclaimed. It’s just that subsequent generations for decades didn’t seek them out like they did Fleetwood Mac or even The Eagles. This was partly a function of how Steely Dan songs work — a spotless veneer of impeccable musicianship and complex music progressions act as a kind of slow release capsule for the humor and perversity that lurks inside. The whole point of this band is to grab the ear immediately, but not reveal what is actually going on until many listens, and even many decades, later. That’s not revisionism; that’s just taking a very long time to “get it.”

Read more: The Best Steely Dan Songs, Ranked (


Editorial note: While I solidly disagree with many of the the author’s choices/placings (and don’t share his understanding of what the song “The Fez” refers to) I applaud an informative and thought-provoking article on one of my favorite bands.

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