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Discovering Steely Dan

I acquired the albums DECADE OF STEELY DAN and The Grateful Dead's SKELETONS FROM THE CLOSET around the same time, a little too young to understand. They received the occasional spin on my turntable and after school would groove out to both in my bedroom. I never thought about wanting to hear more until a friend invited me to a Dead show several years later. Completely blown away, I realized they had a lot more to offer than their "greatest hits". I became a psychedelic explorer, investigating all aspects of the Dead; their songs, history, inspirations and the lifestyle surrounding the carnival. Discovering their music was my odyssey and from the good fortune associated with the adventure emerged who I am today.

DECADE OF STEELY DAN had piqued my interest enough that when their first tour in nearly twenty years was announced, I decided to check it out. DECADE took on a whole new meaning after hearing "Babylon Sisters" live in Phoenix in '93. Similar to my Dead experience, I immediately wanted to hear more Dan. I began to collect all of their albums, each day having a new favorite tune, entranced by the sounds and lyrics, an explorer once again. Although the Dead and Steely Dan have vastly different styles, I fell in love with both of their repertoires with the same hard core excitement and zeal.

After the death of Jerry Garcia, I yearned for the pleasures associated with live music, especially the high after a great show. My mourning pain was eased when I caught Steely in New York City last October. Standing right against the stage, I was captured by the intensity of the incredible music executed by some of the world's top players. It was clean and polished yet experimental and jamming. I was so swept away by "Aja" and "Kid Charlemagne" that I felt I had actually entered their "mechanized hum of another world". It was one of the most satisfying nights of live music I had ever known. The fans at the show were so cool that I even made some new friends who I am meeting this summer to attend the concert at Jones Beach.

Relative to the Dead, there is a captivating aura surrounding Steely Dan, although their's is a jazzy, sophisticated, almost spooky noir. On my return to California I wanted to seek out experiences befitting of a Steely Dan song. Unfortunately, "drive[ing] west on Sunset to the sea" only leads to a big seafood restaurant. I did cruise around some dark, loungy bars in Hollywood where the smoke is thick, the crowd is suave and the action is heavy. This summer, there is something quite exotic and outerworldly to look forward too. Steely Dan is eager to rock us our, engage us in a fantasy and show us their version of how "this life can be very strange".


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