Steely Dan Sunday, "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" (1974)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

One litmus test to tell if you’re a baby boomer or older is if you can remember when the term “dude” was only used by surfer dudes or stoners out in California. In those days, everyone was aware of the term, but most people outside those two groups generally stayed away from it. When Donald Fagen and Walter Becker moved to L.A. from their native New York in the early 70s, they were suddenly hearing the D-word uttered everywhere and were amused by it. And you know what happens next when these two guys…er…dudes are amused by something: they write a song about it.

Replace the term “any major dude” with, say, “any big shot” and we’re only talking about a song about comforting someone who’s down in the dumps. “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” remains basically a song about just that, an unusually warm song for Steely Dan if you assume there’s no irony involved.The acoustic guitar and electric piano lend yet more warmth and the words seems to flow out effortlessly, the way it does with all great songwriters. “Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend/Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again” is a couplet that sticks in your brain, like a salient bit of wisdom you read on a daily calendar of sayings. Except that this one rhymes nicely, and instead of “man” or “guy” it says “dude” long before it became the replacement for those other words. Makes me wonder if someday “squonk” will became part of our everyday vernacular, too.

Being the flip side to the “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” single, it got some radio airplay, but this song should have been a hit single on its own.

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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 svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
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