Walter Becker’s Circus Money covers a wide music landscape. The song, “Bob’s Just Not Your Uncle Anymore” appears — at least on the surface — to be a simple reggae track. As we all know, nothing in the Steely Dan-related world is a simple an easy as it seems.
The center point of the song is Becker’s ostinato reggae bass line that is played without any change throughout the song. Initially in preproduction Becker wanted co-writer/producer Larry Klein to assume bass duties, at least partially, but Klein felt Becker playing the instrument added a certain feel to the song.
Becker also intuitively locked in with drummer Keith Carlock which resulted in distinctive rhythm tracks throughout the album. Becker seemed to relish this and Carlock produced some of his most distinctive playing. The song also continues Becker’s vocal approach of providing a laid back delivery forgoing the need to belt out every note. Additionally, Klein’s minimalist production on the track is subtle genius.
The song lyrically harkens back to early Steely Dan. Becker and Klein seem to work effectively as co-writers for both in word and in music. In this case, the protagonist seems to indicate a relationship has reached an end.
The term “Bob’s your uncle” is commonly used in England to infer that things are all right. Perhaps Becker and Klein are saying they are not.
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