“Deacon Blues” by Steely Dan

Song of the Day

September 5, 2017

Written by Walter Becker & Donald Fagen
Produced by Gary Katz
Recorded at Village Recorders, West Los Angeles, CA, 1977
Released on the album Aja in September 1977

With the passing of bassist Walter Becker, we present a quintessential Steely Dan tune, “Deacon Blues”, from their classic 1977 album, Aja. The song was written from the perspective of a young Becker and Donald Fagen while they lived in the New York City suburbs and dreamed of being jazz musicians. The song has rich philosophical passages, not the least of which is it’s a title, a grandiose name for the “losers in the world”.

Steely Dan in1977

Musically, the song is genius in the sense that it is built of complex chords and instrumental arrangements while maintaining a smooth, even vibe throughout its seven-minute sonic journey. To accomplish this, Becker and Fagen employed a long list of top notch session players, highlighted by jazz guitarist Larry Carlton and legendary drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie.

Listen to “Deacon Blues”:

Song Lyrics

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

Learn to work the saxophone, I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long and die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world, I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, 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 rise when the sun goes down, cover every game in town
A world of my own, I’ll make it my home sweet home

Learn to work the saxophone, I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long and die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world, I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, 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 learned to work the saxophone, I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long and die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world, I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, call me Deacon Blues

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Aja album review at Classic Rock Review

 

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