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.