Steely Dan Sunday, "Walk Between Raindrops" (1982)

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“Ruby Baby” is the only cover on The Nightfly but when I first heard the buoyant, innocent love song “Walk Between Raindrops,” I thought it was a soul-jazz take on some pop ditty from the late 50s/early 60s, too. And with lyrics like “We fought/Now I can’t remember why/After all the words were said and tears were gone/We Vowed we’d never say goodbye,” heck, that sounds straight out of Tin Pan Alley, not one half of the one of the the most irreverent songwriting duos in popular music history.

Fagen wore his sentimentality on his sleeve throughout this record, though, and he did so right through to the end. A lighter, shorter track than the rest of the album, he reserved the last solo honors for himself, playing the jazz organ much closer to Jimmy McGriff than that guy who authored that haunting solo on “Do It Again” ten years earlier. As the track on the opposite end from “I.G.Y.” on The Nightfly, its old-school vibe is likewise opposite of the modern sheen of that lead-off song. Ending his personal masterpiece on such a bright, bouncy confection as “Walk Between Raindrops” leaves the listener cheerily waving goodbye with a smile on its face as the curtain is drawn.

That’s not the Steely Dan Way, but man, Donald Fagen did make it a whole lot easier to handle the breakup of the band. For a while, at least.

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