Ellis & Barnes: Serious Mothers!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Steely Oates

I heard the Hall and Oates sampled-many-times masterpiece I Can't Go For That the other day and re-fell in love with it. I will be the first to admit that Hall and Oates are REALLY great. Like Steely Dan great. Last year I searched for a lot of Steely Dan songs that I only knew pieces of lyrics to, but were lost on titles. All I had to go off of were childhood memories of hearing the songs over and over, but never knowing what songs they really were. I had to Google the following lyric remembered by my 7 year-old self: "drink scotch whiskey all night long / and die behind the wheel". It turns out that Steely Dan are the Kings of Pervs. Every song is about getting an underage chick high on cocaine and then dying in a car crash. Well...not every song, but most of them. All of their songs are basically Hey Nineteen. (R. Kelly if you're reading this, you should sample Hey Nineteen because it would be really funny.)

If Steely Dan were food, they'd be cheese cubes with Ritz, a bowl of olives and some kind of dip that smells like a swingers' house.

Where Hall and Oates have a LOT of soul, Steely Dan DO NOT. But both are really great and different than each other. This is prompting me to write the following:



1. If you're a swinger and have a couple over, you don't even have to try with Steely Dan on the HI-Fi.

2. Their music can be used for foreground or background music. That's hard to do as most music you either notice right away or it's bland as dentist office wallpaper. Steely Dan is something that if you choose to notice it - it's really great and if you choose to not notice it, then you don't notice it at all.

3. They're tricky! They're one of those American sounding British Bands. Who else is? America (Ventura Highway, Horse With No Name) made music tailor made for a Southern Californian bonfire in the 70's but were as British as could be. Steely Dan's music is what you'd hear on a houseboat in San Francisco during that same time. They sound very American. 10cc and Supertramp have the same thing going on.

4. There's only two of them. (Take up less space? Less of them to fight?)

5. Their music is timeless and seem to favor unusual measures and chord changes - it's very clever. Peg is a song I can play eight times in a row and still be in a great mood. In fact, the more I play it, the more I love it.

6. One night as a kid playing "grown-ups" (true story) my friend Penelope and I played my mom's Steely Dan Aja record, opened the patio door so we could hear the music and stood by the fire pit while pretending to smoke with twigs we'd stick in the fire. To us, Steely Dan was the ultimate in grown-up music. It was the mellowness of the dreamy keyboards, the lazy horn section and the vocals which heralded a party winding down...or (if you were my parents' friends) just getting started. I wish I remembered what we "talked" about as grown-ups. It was probably tennis related.


1. Getting away with the same schtick for years. You can smell a Steely Dan intro from miles away.

2. The creepy factor; they make it pretty clear that they like very young girls and love to get them drunk on "the Cuervo Gold" and high on "the fine Colombian".

3. I bet "partying" with Steely Dan is actually boring as hell.

4. They look like your Dad's friends.


1. They are absolutely FULL of soul. I Can't Go For That has been sampled at least three times by different artists.

2. They can take comfort in that everyone on Earth knows who they are and pretty much everyone on Earth likes them.

3. They can switch it up; Hall and Oates have a gigantic discography of impressive hits and they don't all sound exactly the same.

4. Emotional response: Hall and Oates trigger more memories for people than say, The Pointer Sisters ever have or ever will.

5. People will always go see them. They are beloved and with good reason.

6. Daryl Hall was on Flight of the Conchords, giving him some cool cred.


1. Daryl Hall at one point started turning into a lion:
2. There's only two of them, but they seem like two guys you'd want to hang out with (D & H have been known to poke fun at themselves), whereas Steely Dan seem like they'd be douches from the get-go.

3. I can't think of anything else.

4. If Daryl Hall goes full-on lion before long, he might try to eat your face. But he can't help it if he's a real lion.

(About to have our baby any day now for those still with us.)


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