The Lost Steely Dan Song: ‘Gaucho’ Outtake “The Second Arrangement”

After the 1977 release of Steely Dan’s massive commercial and artistic triumph Aja, band masterminds Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, having taken most of 1978 off, reconvened in 1979 for a follow-up, which would be Gaucho.

One of the first things they got on tape was a song called “The Second Arrangement”, and all involved in its creation were extremely proud of the song. In fact, Backer and Fagen are said to have considered it to be among their best.

But in cueing the song up for playback, a junior studio engineer accidentally erased most of the recording.

The band attempted to re-record the song, but they couldn’t come up with a take that satisfied notorious perfectionists Becker and Fagen. The song, which might have given Gaucho a third hit single, never appeared on record. It was replaced on Gaucho with the more somber and shadowy “Third World Man”.

Over the years demos and bootlegs of the song have turned up, giving fans a glimpse of how glorious the Gaucho album could have been with the inclusion of this gem.

Below are two representations of “The Second Arrangement”. The first is a muddy working demo from the Gaucho sessions. The second, a live performance by Steely Dan tribute act Twelve Against Nature, is fleshed out with a horn section in an attempt to show what the lost final version may have sounded like.

 

 

Pour out the wine, little girl
I’ve got just two friends in this whole wide world
Here’s to reckless lovers
We all need somebody
Stashed in the yellow Jag
I’ve got my life and laundry in a Gladstone bag
You should know the program
Just one red rose and a tender goodbye
[One last goodbye]

And I run to the second arrangement
It’s only the natural thing
Who steps out with no regrets
A sparkling conscience
A new address
When I run to the second arrangement
The home of a mutual friend
Now’s the time to redefine the first arrangement again

It’s a sticky situation
A serious affair
I must explain it to you somehow
Right now I’ll just move back one square

Here comes that noise again
Another scrambled message from my last best friend
Something I can dance to
A song with tears in it
Old friends abandon me
It’s just the routine politics of jealousy
Someday we’ll remember
That one red rose and one last goodbye
[One last goodbye]

Then I run to the second arrangement
It’s only the natural thing
Who steps out with no regrets
A sparkling conscience
A new address
When I run to the second arrangement
The home of a mutual friend
Now’s the time to redefine the first arrangement again

Steely Dan’s Quiet Hero: Inside Walter Becker’s Troubled Life, Wry Genius

(via Rolling Stone) by Henry Diltz

For years, anyone who wanted to use the bathroom while visiting Walter Becker’s studio in the countryside of Maui was directed outside. There, mounted on one of the walls of a white outhouse, they’d find a gold-record plaque for Steely Dan‘s Aja – which, over time, began oxidizing and tarnishing in the ocean air.

It was a prime example of the irreverence, unflashiness and dark humor that Becker, who died at 67 on September 3rd, displayed his whole life. There were few, if any, rock stars like him. He looked and acted like a droll college professor, and in conversation he could expound on Samuel Beckett’s plays, delve into the details of the Manhattan Project or rattle off the names of sidemen on obscure jazz records.

Becker was as much an architect of Steely Dan’s airtight sound and skewed sensibility as his friend, singer-keyboardist Donald Fagen. The two co-wrote the Dan’s songs, oversaw their legendary persnickety recording sessions, and shared a love of Beat writing, sci-fi and other topics that resulted in the parade of freaks and geeks that inhabited their songs. (With his long hair, wispy beard, and diffident air, Becker even resembled one of those weirdos, especially in his youth.) A behind-the-scenes maestro, Becker often let others play his parts on record, and few fans knew the dramatic arc of his life – his painful childhood, and the addiction, seclusion and rebirth he endured as an adult. “His relationships were difficult, and his relationship with life was difficult,” says a friend, American-born Hindu devotional singer Krishna Das. “But music was always there for him. It was the most dependable source of beauty he had in his life.”

Read more:

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/steely-dans-quiet-hero-inside-walter-beckers-troubled-life-wry-genius-199094/

Two Very Different Rankings of Steely Dan Albums

In the wake of the death of Walter Becker, we look at two websites who appraised and ranked Steely Dan’s albums, noting that the lists are very different from each other. It’s not surprising, perhaps, given the chameleonic nature of the work of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Some of it leans heavily toward jazz and some is more straight-ahead rock. Some lyrics are maddeningly obtuse and some more coherent. These things come down to personal taste sometimes. Which list do you agree with? How would you rank the work of this great band?

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/steely-dan-albums-ranked/

http://www.stereogum.com/1732741/steely-dan-albums-from-worst-to-best/franchises/counting-down/

Video of the Week: How Steely Dan Composes a Song

With no more income from album sales, a 69-year-old rock legend has to go back on tour

(via Quartz) by Amy X. Wang

For musicians, it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times. Streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify are booming, helping the long-suffering music industry grow for the first time in decades.

But these new services make very little money for artists, with ephemeral streams paying out only a fraction of the revenue of actual album sales and downloads. Beyoncé, the highest-paid artist of last year, made the bulk of her money from a world tour. So did Guns N’ Roses, the second name on that list, and that band hasn’t even released a new album in a decade.

Another sign of the times is Donald Fagen, the 69-year-old cofounder of rock band Steely Dan, who has just announced a new tour in the US and Japan with an entirely new backup band called the Nightflyers. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal (paywall), Fagen’s explanation for the new tour was decisively blunt

Read more: https://qz.com/1041397/steely-dans-donald-fagen-is-back-on-tour-the-result-of-nobody-buying-music-albums-anymore/

Video of the Week: How Steely Dan Composes A Song

Thanks Jordan Taylor!

Steely Dan’s “Aja”: Eight Minutes of Genius

(Reprinted from CultureSonar)

steely danSteely Dan is known for jazz-influenced arrangements, quirky lyrics, and pristine production.  Even non-fans recognize the brilliance of their 1977 album, Aja. For many music lovers, it’s their first choice for a late night listen accompanied by iced Manhattans. Audiophiles use it to audition high end stereo speakers. Jazz purists discuss its intricacies with classic rock veterans.

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker had formed Steely Dan as a band in the early seventies, serving as the group’s principal songwriters. They combined their love of rhythm and blues with their deep appreciation of jazz. They weren’t a rock band with horns or a jazz fusion band. Steely Dan was something different and unique — a rock band that used jazz harmonies.

By the time of Aja, Fagen and Becker were the only permanent band members (although original guitarist Denny Dias often appeared as a guest). They supplemented their instruments with the best session players in New York and Los Angeles. Their jazz rock sound, with hardly a traditional major or minor chord in sight, was recorded with the utmost care thanks to the work of producer Gary Katz and engineer Roger Nichols

Read more: http://culturesonar.com/steely-dans-aja-eight-minutes-genius/

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