Steely Dan Sunday: “Turn That Heartbeat Over Again” from Can’t Buy a Thrill (1972)

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Among our favorite bands, we all have our Least Favorite Song. When it comes to Steely Dan, this one is most likely mine. Now that we reached the end of Can’t Buy a Thrill, I can look back to a record that had several peaks, with the valleys that weren’t filler-level low until we reach the end.

Steely Dan’s “Turn That Heartbeat Over Again” comes across as a pastiche of unbaked ideas hastily slapped together, and goofy lyrics. (“We warned the corpse of William Wright / Not to cuss and drink all night.” Really?) And yet, there’s some redeeming qualities to the song.

It’s got decent harmonies in the chorus and even Walter Becker participates in the vocal fun; this will be the last time we’ll talk about Walter singing anything until Alive in America, recorded nearly a quarter century later. The instrumental break doesn’t have any solo fireworks to save the song, but there’s an interesting chord progression scripted just for that part.

It goes to show that even in Steely Dan’s misfires, there was a level of sophistication and craftsmanship that matches other noted bands’ best work. But I still don’t care much for the song. Onward to Countdown To Ecstasy.

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