‘So melodic, and the sound is fantastic': Jon Herington chooses his favorite Steely Dan guitar solo

When it comes to Steely Dan, Jon Herington has heard them all. Heck, as the band’s lead guitarist since 1999, he’s played them all. But which guitar solo is his favorite? That’s a difficult choice, indeed, as Herrington tells Digital Trends.

After all, Steely Dan worked with some of the most talented sidemen in the business over their musically rich recording career — from Lee Ritenour to Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, from Mark Knopfler to Larry Carlton. And, of course, Steely Dan’s Walter Becker plays a little himself, right? “There’s so much great guitar work there,” Herington admits. “They hired so many amazing players, such a diverse bunch of guys who contributed to those records and made the music come alive in that way.”

Ultimately, Herington says he’s partial to a solo that was so impressive to Dan founders Donald Fagen and Becker that they reportedly built a whole song around it.

“Hands down, my favorite solo on any Steely Dan record is Larry Carlton’s “Third World Man,” Herington says, selecting the final track on 1980’s Gaucho. “Donald and Walter must have thought that was a great take because, originally, it wasn’t even on the song. It was done in an earlier recording session. And I think the only reason they kept it and tried to write a new lyric later that became “Third World Man” was because they loved that solo so much. I love that solo, too. It’s one of the greatest pop guitar solos ever recorded. It’s so melodic, and the sound is fantastic. It has a great shape, the whole way it moves and climaxes.”

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  • Scott Stuit

    The story Larry Carlton tells is that he was surprised to find that he was even credited on the Gaucho LP. He had not participated in the recording sessions. The solo was from the Aja sessions of 1977.