May 2012

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I was talking to somebody today who happened to mention a person they new named, “Lonnie” and I immediately thought of the Steel Dan song, “The Boston Rag” which has the lyric, “Lonnie swept the playroom / And he swallowed up all he found / It was forty-eight hours til / Lonnie came around.”

It’s far from the best or my favorite of their songs, but it’s still memorable. It occurred to me that one of the criticisms of Steely Dan is that the musical genre they’re working in (sometimes described as “lite jazz-funk”) isn’t very interesting. Which may or may not be true but it’s an important point in favor of Steely Dan that their songs are far from generic. The songs are quirky and vivid and their songwriting is very rarely lazy — there may be recognizable Steely Dan themes, but their songs don’t descend to cliche and that’s a big part of what makes them a classic and important band.

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