In rock music, there’s been occasions where one act provokes another in a rock song, resulting in a retaliatory song by the provoked. Probably the most famous of these is that 1974 hit “Sweet Home Alabama,” where Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lines about Neil Young (“I hope Neil Young will remember/a Southern man don’t need him around, anyhow”) was a response to Young’s songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama” which lectured the region about its racist ways. Paul McCartney took shots at John Lennon on “Too Many People” and Lennon shot back on “How Do You Sleep?”
Steely Dan likewise engaged in a little back and forth with another popular band, but this time it was all in good fun. “Everything You Did”, a song about confronting a lovers’ betrayal and set to a Caribbean ‘riddim,’ has that standout lyric “turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening…” Seven months after this song first appeared with the issuance of The Royal Scam, the Eagles’ blockbuster Hotel California released, and everyone remembers the verse on the title song that goes “they stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast” but few picked up that “steely” was a reference to their fellow Irving Azoff clients.
Besides having the same manager, it’s unclear what other connection the two bands with each other; Becker’s girlfriend was said to have been an Eagles fan and maybe he stuck that line in there to appease, or more likely, tease her. Timothy B. Schmidt did play bass and provided background vocals on several SD albums including this one, but he wasn’t an Eagle yet when the playful exchange occurred.
Nonetheless, the best part of “Everything You Did” might be Larry Carlton’s fearsome guitar work. The back and forth between two legendary rock acts both their peak is just a footnote, but a fun footnote.
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