Steely Dan Sunday, "Black Friday" (1975)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

“Black Friday is the first track from Katy Lied, a snakebitten set of recordings to studio perfectionists Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. For the rest of us, this album is a dandy. By and large, it sounds on the surface like a record full of straightforward songs, which only means that the nifty little things Becker and Fagen are renowned for doing reveal themselves only gradually over many listens. It’s also the first release that the lads didn’t tour behind and so, there’s no big hits from it (“Black Friday” was issued as a single and it scraped the bottom of the top 40 in 1975). Thus, virtually every cut is a deep cut.

We first visited this tune here on November 28, 2008, where we declared it to be the theme song for the day after Thanksgiving. Here it is reprinted below for your amusement:

Alright, so this is the third One Track Mind devoted to those quirky boys from Bard, Steely Dan. And the second one from their 1975 release, Katy Lied. Call me obsessed. I don’t care.

Because, “Black Friday” is what today is, isn’t it? And who’s other song comes to mind when the first day of the Christmas shopping season arrives? I mean, other than “Free For All” by Ted Nugent?

“Black Friday” is not exactly a bad song to get stuck in someone’s cranium, though. Recorded during a time when the Dan was making the transition from rock to jazz-pop, “Friday” was one of their last bonafide rockers. It’s got a chunky electric piano, a solid rock shuffle, and lots of guitars with the lead by Walter Becker. Becker, who prior to this left that chore up to the just-departed Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Denny Dias, or some hired hand like Elliott Randall, lays down some nasty lines he coaxed from a old Fender Mustang.

Donald Fagen sings some nonsensical lyrics about what’s he’s going to do on this day, like standing “down by the door/And catch the grey men when they/Dive from the fourteenth floor,” and “Gonna do just what I please/Gonna wear no socks and shoes/With nothing to do but feed/All the kangaroos.” Given how well read Becker and Fagen are, they could well be referring to some historically bleak event, like the Fisk-Gould Scandal of 1869, but I doubt it in this case. And that crash of ’29? That happened on a Monday. Nah, they were probably just being silly.

I’m not standing in any lines in freezing weather for 3 hours this morning waiting to get into the store only to find that all the 50″ plasma TVs for $798 are sold out. But I’ll dedicate this song to all those brave souls who will.

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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
S. Victor Aaron
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