Deacon Blues

This song has grown on me over the years. I remember reading about the group Deacon Blues, who said this song was the best song Steely Dan has ever made. I was surprised by that, and it made me listen to it more carefully. At first i didn’t notice this song. It seemed mellow, soft. Which is exactly what it is. Languid.

The lyrics. I read them today, a couple of times. I did a search on duckduckgo.com too and finally found an interesting article on stylusmagazine.com, my one time fave website. Damn, it stopped in 2007, so long ago already. It is still online, happy with that! This article called Top Ten Obscure Steely Dan lyrics. Deacon Blues is not in the top ten list, but it is mentioned in the intro.

This is one of the strangest lyrics ever put to wax—and it’s attached to a song that’s still played in elevators and department stores all across America. If you listen to “Deacon Blues” and only hear lite pop, the joke’s on you; with just a little close-listening, and the help of that English degree you never thought you’d use, it’s clear that “Deacon Blues” isn’t about a melancholy priest, but about a young hipster celebrating being a drunk, jazz-loving loser in an America that only cares about college football teams. And herein lies the greatness of Steely Dan: they wrote complex, mysterious songs disguised as catchy pop tunes. They’re both the most MOR and least MOR band ever. They’re accessible and subversive at the same time. If that isn’t the definition of great art, what is?

Listening to this song, reading this article makes me realize i hardly know enough about Steely Dan’s lyrics, or any other group for that matter. I really really should put in a lot more effort!

*sigh*

Anyway, you may listen to my recording, which in my opinion is extremely horrible. Better you listen to the original version. With the music, the saxophone, the female singers in the background, the gitar and bass and drums and whatever more. Then listen to the tellings of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen themselves, and some other people too.

Enjoy!

Deacon Blues – Steely Dan
This is the day
Of the expanding man
That shape is my shade
There where I used to stand
It seems like only yesterday
I gazed through the glass
At ramblers
Wild gamblers
That’s all in the past

You call me a fool
You say it’s a crazy scheme
This one’s for real
I already bought the dream
So useless to ask me why
Throw a kiss and say goodbye
I’ll make it this time
I’m ready to cross that fine line

Learnt to work the saxophone
I, I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
(Aah)
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I, I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama, “The Crimson Tide”
(Aah)
Call me Deacon Blues
(Deacon Blues)

My back to the wall
A victim of laughing chance
This is for me
The essence of true romance
Sharing the things we know and love
With those of my kind
Libations
Sensations
That stagger the mind

I crawl like a viper
Through these suburban streets
Make love to these women
Languid and bittersweet
I’ll rise when the sun goes down
Cover every game in town
A world of my own
I’ll make it my home sweet home

Learnt to work the saxophone
I, I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
(Aah)
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I, I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama, “The Crimson Tide”
(Aah)
Call me Deacon Blues
(Deacon Blues)

This is the night
Of the expanding man
I take one last drag
As I approach the stand
I cried when I wrote this song
Sue me if I play too long
This brother is free
I’ll be what I want to be

I learnt to work the saxophone
I, I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
(Aah)
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I, I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama, “The Crimson Tide”
(Aah)
Call me Deacon Blues
(Deacon Blues)

The original song on the album which i actually do have! And yes, i did buy it when it was released, in 1977.

Steely Dan discuss the production behind “Deacon Blues” from “Aja.”

Published on September 11, 2015 at 6:00 by

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