Steely Dan Sunday, "Haitian Divorce" (1976)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

You could call “Haitian Divorce” a love song, but as Steely Dan love songs go, it’s not about the bliss so much as it’s about the ugly side of romance. Babs and Clean Willie’s torrid relationship soon ends just as torridly, so Babs goes to Haiti to get a quicky divorce, gets blasted, gets knocked up by a local, comes back to Willie for a reconciliation that’s cut short when it’s apparent the baby isn’t his (“who’s this kinky so-and-so?”).

This being 1976, not only offshore no-mess divorces were in vogue, but so were talk-box guitars (courtesy of Mr. Frampton). Played all over a reggae-derived groove, it sounds just right for this song. For reasons that were never clear to me, that guitar chore was split between two people: Dean Parks played the actual guitar notes and Walter Becker modified Parks’ notes with that voice bag. I might question the approach but I can’t argue with the results; much as Rick Derringer’s slide provided a compelling counterpoint to Fagen’s vocal on “Show Biz Kids,” so does Becker’s oral modifications to someone else’s guitar do the same on “Haitian Divorce.”

Steely Dan found so many ways to groove on The Royal Scam and once again came up with an original idea that has stood the test of time.

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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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