I’ve had a bunch of things that I’ve wanted to write about recently, including some new music that I’m quite pleased with, but one that I want to cover before it gets too stale is a surprisingly interesting documentary that I watched a little over a week ago.
I got the Classic Albums documentary of Aja from the library with low expectations — it looked like the music documentary equivalent of DVD extras, but it turned out to be very well done, and helped to get me thinking about Steely Dan again.
Steely Dan is one of the bands for which I have a hard time getting much perspective. I got into them relatively early in the development of my musical tastes (which, in this case, was just after college), got the box set with all of their albums, went through a period of listening to them over and over again, and then tailed off the the point that these days I don’t listen to them all that often.
All of that makes it a little bit difficult to know what to say about them. Their strengths and weaknesses are obvious, their songwriting is amazing, I love their sound, and they don’t sound like anybody else but, on the other hand, they don’t particularly rock, they aren’t intimate (exactly) and, while they experiment with a variety of musical styles, all of their stuff sounds sort of the same. But, beyond that, for me there is a part of me that loves them in a completely unreserved way, and another part that feels like they’re part of a specific period in my past.
Watching the documentary gave me a chance to step back and have a way to approach them that was somewhat fresh, and ultimately it made me appreciate their strengths even more than I had, and feel like some of their weaknesses are quite forgivable.
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