Fagen’s dry wit comes to the fore on this song about an American couple on holiday at a Caribbean resort when an revolution happens upon them. That revolution is based on, naturally, the actual Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power at the beginning of 1959, which neatly fits within the timeline of the theme espoused on The Nightfly. Our character is trying his best to manage his panic in realizing he’s living out a story with an unhappy ending as he deadpans “won’t you pour me a Cuban Breeze, Gretchen?”
The music matches the Caribbean theme…at least, its breezy vibe jives with the story until armed rebellion spoils the vacation. Greg Phillinganes’ synth simulates a marimba nearly perfectly, Porcaro’s executes the salsa beat with typical precision, and if you can bear with my gushing just one last time, here’s yet another refined guitar lead by Larry Carlton. The Royal Scam is more thought of as “his” record, but even there he had to share the solo space with other guitarists. Fagen gave it all to him for The Nightfly and he responded resplendently, proving without a doubt he can handle the job for any given song and bolstering the consistent identity displayed across the entire record. When The Nightfly was finished, so was Carlton’s involvement in any Steely Dan-related project, but the legacy was established and the standard was set for any guitarist who played under the Steely Dan banner after him.
Even when Fagen was being light-hearted on this album as on “The Goodbye Look,” he made a seriously good tune.