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My friend Walter

on Sep 3, 2017 in Middle Age

Okay, maybe Walter Becker wasn’t really my friend but I’m guessing you didn’t spend a week with him. Okay, maybe I didn’t really spend a week with him per se, but I did spend a week at the same place he was at, had dinner with him several times and hiked the same morning hike every day. He happened to be at my favourite Mexican spa along with his personal physician. He was just a regular guy. I’m guessing maybe the attraction of said spa was the focus on activity, mindfulness and organic vegetarian cuisine. And definitely no beach bar with Margaritas.

I have to admit I wasn’t really a fan of Steely Dan when they arrived on the scene in the early 1970s. I did not mind Can’t Buy a Thrill but not much of Becker/Fagan was in my regular rotation. Anyhow, to honour Walter’s untimely death today, I thought I would do a bit of research and provide you with some Steely Dan facts you may or may not know.

1. Prior to forming Steely Dan, Becker and Fagan were part of a cover band called the Leather Canary, which also included Chevy Chase. Needless to say, fame and fortune did not ensue at that point.

2. Barbra Streisand covered a Becker/Fagan original called “I Mean to Shine” on her 1971 Album Barbra Jean Streisand. Fame and fortune still did not ensue.

3. Although a key part of the song writing duo, Becker did not actually play on a Steely Dan album until Pretzel Logic. Also, although Fagan is lead vocal on many recorded tracks, he refused to sing live. Kind of like if Paul never played on a Beatles track and if John never sang in a concert. Although come to think of it, who would have known since no one could actually hear them over the screaming anyhow. I also learned that Fagan said in defense of the session musician modus operandi that the Beatles regularly used pitch hitters in their recordings (Billy Preston on the keyboard comes to mind, but also Eric Clapton standing in for George on many occasions). But I digress.

4. Michael McDonald and Jeff Baxter were both part of the Steely Dan crew until they left to form a little known band called the Doobie Brothers. Fame and fortune did ensue.

5. Anyhow, eventually Steely Dan caught on, selling 40 million albums worldwide and gaining a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

6. I guess it’s the jazzy nature of Steely Dan that was at odds with my musical taste at the time. But I have found Becker and Fagan to be kind of like olives: an acquired taste best left to grownups, or at least best left to those old enough to drink martinis. And that is exactly what I shall do at cocktail time tonight, while contemplating the wisdom of Bodhisavatta.

7. I still don’t know why Rikki shouldn’t lose that number and silly me, I never thought to ask Walter.




on Aug 31, 2017 in Middle Age

When Pamela Paul was 14, she started keeping a journal of every book she read. While this is certainly what one would expect of someone who would later become the current editor of the New York Times Book Review, I couldn’t help but have a huge twinge of envy accompanied with stern admonishment to my [...]


Bon voyage

on Aug 24, 2017 in Travels

NASA recently announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has moved into interstellar space. This journey has taken forty years and that is merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to the time it would take to actually get somewhere tangible beyond our solar system. People that know these things say in about 300 [...]


Yellow Bird

on Aug 21, 2017 in Middle Age

I was walking home the other day and saw a yellow bird. But of course there is much more to this story. I was walking home on Oriole Parkway, a Toronto street in an otherwise leafy and urban area with a volume of traffic and illicit speed that makes it more like a major roadway, [...]


I hear music

on Aug 13, 2017 in Middle Age

You know you are getting old when you start hearing some of the music of your youth that was considered edgy at the time wafting gently out of the speakers while you are at the grocery store. I swear I heard ‘White Rabbit’, ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, and ‘Dead Babies’ all in the course [...]


American pie

on Jul 30, 2017 in Middle Age

You may have missed the latest eruption of severe first world problems. If that is the case, I am happy to be of service to fill you in. It all started in Iceland, of all places. Usually Iceland is pretty well behaved (except for Bjork of course) and doesn’t get on the radar much unless [...]


Go for a soda

on Jul 13, 2017 in Houses

I feel guilty about my fridge and it’s highly likely that you should feel guilty about yours too. That’s because I have a box of baking soda sitting in the nether regions protecting the good name of my housekeeping skills by silently absorbing the sins of sour milk, sauerkraut and stinky cheese. In case you [...]


Mon pays

on Jun 25, 2017 in Middle Age

Courtesy of my friends at CBC radio today, I was reminded (if I ever knew in the first place) that our national anthem is a French song that didn’t have English words until 1907 and the version we learned in the 1960s is quite different than the version millennials sing today and furthermore, didn’t even [...]


Garden Party

on Jun 20, 2017 in Houses

Unfortunately, I have recently come to the conclusion that I like the idea of gardening more than actual gardening. I don’t know why this is only a recent revelation because the blatant indications that I am not as enthusiastic a gardener as I imagine myself to be have been evident for some time. Like, for [...]


Food, glorious food

on Jun 17, 2017 in Middle Age

I clearly have too much time on my hands because I’m pretty sure normal people’s first thought when going grocery shopping is how the store should be reorganized to make it more logical. I’m not talking about the ‘merchandizing strategies’ that place random promotions at the end of the aisle or filter you through the [...]

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