Room 1420, Longhorn Suite
Four Seasons Hotel
Mr. Andy McKaie
Greetings and salutations from the heart of the hinterlands! The Steely Dan tour '93 is in its last two weeks and the long promised historical material for the fabulous Steely Dan box set is likewise in the final editorial phase. Last minute tweaks and adjustments are being dialed in even as we speak. At this time it is our great personal pleasure to present you with the finished biographical notes for the long-awaited Steely Dan box set. Allow us to make, for your edification and for that of the loyal fandom, the following small-but-not-I-hope-insignificant points:
1. We were of course only having a little joke last week when we pretended not to recognize you at the splendid MCA platinum record presentation in the men's room at the Greek Theatre in L.A. When Walter said to you, "Ha! So we meet at last!", he was simply commenting on the fact that you were the last of the MCA bigwigs present that day to be introduced to us at that particular function. Could we ever forget our previous meeting in the auxiliary echo chamber at Village Recorder, or the splendid plaque you gave us that day, or the fine photo of that historic meeting, later published in Billboard Magazine for all the world to see? I don't think so.On the other hand, we were heartily impressed by your understanding of the tradition of urban humor that nurtured our own sensibilities, as evidenced by the (Lenny) Bruce-inflected lingo, the yiddishisms, etc. In you piece. Reading this musty old quote allowed us to forget for a brief moment that we are even now, as another Bruce (Jay Friedman) once put it, "far from the city of class". Trudging across the flyovers is the price the piper demands from fellows like us. Stranded and perplexed in our mid-forties, wildly eccentric if not actually crazy as dancing mice, we have thrown away an impeccable 19 year record of unrelieved stasis and reclusivity in a desperate late bid to insure our financial well-being. Casting our dignity aside, we plod from one sad town to the next, pitch our little tent and offer up our crisp yet generous program to the locals, who inundate us with cheers and applause and generally set us awash in a sea of glory. The next day we are pelted with dungballs by the entertainment reviewers of the local rags, who are generally predisposed against our suave, and dynamic renderings by years of hard drinking and coarse thinking, who are in some cases openly antisemitic, and who tend to view our humble efforts through the crusty lens of their own failed ambitions and dismal prospects for redemption. In spite of everything we carry on. We're hoping the end of this tour will find us each perched on a modest mountain of moolah, down whose generous slopes we might coast smoothly past the millennium and on into the 21st century.
2. We are truly sorry about the delay in collecting and editing this material. We know you've been desperate to front-load the retail racks in time for the Christmas crush. Unfortunately, we are dependent on certain obsessive fans and demi-cultish publications for the old photos, reviews, ads, etc. that will make this a fun package. After many hours of tiresome telephone conversation with these collectors, the big envelopes finally arrived, most often in rough condition and/or stained with suspicious substances. We then began the tedious selection process, punctuated by frequent breaks to recuperate from the violent humiliation of seeing how we looked in 1971, '72, '75, '78, '81. Andy, just imagine how you might feel if photos of yourself from the seventies (big stoner grin, greasy hair down to your scrotum, wearing a psychedelic flower shirt, a cowhide vest, extra wide Britannia corduroy bell bottoms over shapeless Acme engineer boots) were plastered all over the public square.
3. One realizes that the addition of outtakes, demos, remixes and so on can enhance a collection of frequently repackaged product. In our case, though, the shelf is pretty much empty. One decent find was a somewhat lame experimental version of "Everyone's Gone To The Movies" that somehow survived storage in a damp, verminous locker for over twenty years. This might be added, not only for historical reasons, but also to give Flo and Eddie (who harmonized on the chorus) the proof they've always needed to back up their assertion that they worked with us in the "old days". Furthermore, the inclusion of this track (an unused B side from the original band's first studio sessions, which predated "Can't Buy A Thrill" by almost a year) might serve to curb the brisk trade in bootleg editions of this and various other demos, live recordings, etc., that now glut the "import" racks of the very same stores that sell our legitimate albums.
4. By the way, please note that the above review fragment is excerpted from a piece you yourself wrote on one of our early albums. As you are now in a position to realize, you needn't have worried back then that we would be ruined by all the money we were making because, at the time, we weren't being paid squat for our records and performances. Now, of course, quite well fixed, we most certainly have been ruined -- but by time, not by money.
Finally, to you, our good friend and beloved colleague, a word of caution: like us, you've passed life's halfway marker, you drift towards oblivion, wearing the bottoms of your trousers rolled. Andy, don't let the company rob you of your dreams. It happens to the best of sickies, y'know.
Donald & Walter