Steely Dan Sunday, “Confide In Me” (1993)

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You can probably find a little bit of Ray Charles in most anything Donald Fagen plays, but on occassion, his affection for the music of America’s most important soul man is explicit. “Confide In Me” is one of those occasions.

“Confide” first appeared as the B-side to “Tomorrow Girls,” not making it on Kamakiriad — or any album, for the matter — until The Nightfly Trilogy box set was issued in 2007. This song didn’t get kept off Kamakiriad because it’s inferior, it just didn’t fit the narrative of this themed album. On the contrary, I find it preferable to at least half the tracks on that record.

And why? Because the Ray Charles is very strong on a song with a very 50s rhythm and blues shuffle. Devoid of the synthesizers and other touches that dated his other 1993 recordings, Fagen plays the piano barrelhouse style and Jeff Young mans an organ. There’s a harmonica floating around, courtesy of background singer Mindy Jostyn, and tasty blues guitar leads from Drew Zingg. Even the “confide in me” chorus singing at the end of every measure amongst Fagen’s ab-libbed lines that takes the song out to the end is pulled straight from Charles’ rendition of “Night Time Is The Right Time.”

A song that’s more of an outgrowth of his Rock ‘N’ Soul Revue project than Steely Dan, Fagen’s “Confide In Me” is a homage to a soul icon that few if any other rock icon can top.

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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,, 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
S. Victor Aaron
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  • Kit O’Toole

    Love this feature, as always! I wonder if he wrote this track originally for the Manhattan Transfer, who recorded it back in 1991 for their “Offbeat of Avenues” album. That’s the first version I ever heard:

  • S. Victor Aaron

    Kit, I wasn’t even aware of this version to tell you the truth, but I think now he did write it for them, and Fagen’s own version is most likely a demo recorded around the same time. Zing was the guitarist for Fagen’s New York Rock and Soul Revue that was operating in the early 90’s, so the timeline fits.

    The Transfer recorded a great version of the song, too!