Steely Dan Sunday: "Pearl Of The Quarter" (1973)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

A country love song delivered almost without any detectable irony is what follows “My Old School” on Countdown To Ecstasy. The charm of Countdown is it being full of styles and devices Becker and Fagen never visited again, and this song “Pearl Of The Quarter” that’s both “country” and “romantic” qualifies as a rarely used combination their arsenal (although “Rose Darling” comes close on both counts). OK, so the object of affection “Louise” might be a prostitute, but the old fashioned sentiment is pretty strong for a Steely Dan song.

I’ve raved on about The Skunk’s pedal steel work here before, but here it is in a more traditional context for that instrument, and after the sharp, slashing lines mixing it up with the horns on “School,” Baxter is as genteel and even melancholy on the very next track. When you think about the diversity he brought to the band, it becomes easier to understand why he was never really replaced after he left the group the following year after this song was recorded.

The setting for this romance is New Or-LEANS, but you probably knew that already, where red beans and rice go for a quarter (as opposed to the historic downtown French Quarter, but you probably already knew that, too). Louise likes to go around singing “do you want to” in French, but “voulez vous” sounds kinda…well, frenchy…so I guess that fits in with the topic. Maybe the lyrics might be a tad hokey, especially for skilled wordsmiths like this duo, but the overall sweetness of “Pearl Of The Quarter” wins over even fans of the more urbane SD stuff like me.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at [email protected] .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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