Steely Dan’s ‘Black Friday’ provides a perfectly nonsensical soundtrack for today

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Steely Dan’s “Black Friday” might feel a bit on the nose this morning, but who else comes to mind when the first day of the Christmas shopping season arrives? (I mean, other than “Free For All” by Ted Nugent?) Recorded during a time when Steely Dan was making the transition from rock to jazz-pop, “Black Friday” was one of their last bona-fide rockers — and a perfect soundtrack for furious bargain hunting this morning.

It’s got a chunky electric piano, a solid rock shuffle, and lots of guitars with the lead by Walter Becker. Becker, who prior to this left that chore up to the just-departed Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Denny Dias or some hired hand like Elliott Randall, lays down some nasty lines he coaxed from an old Fender Mustang. Meanwhile, Donald Fagen sings some nonsensical lyrics about what’s he’s going to do on this day, like standing “down by the door and catch the gray men when they dive from the fourteenth floor,” and “gonna do just what I please, gonna wear no socks and shoes — with nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos.”

Given how well read Becker and Fagen are, they could well be referring to some historically bleak event, like the Fisk-Gould Scandal of 1869, but I doubt it in this case. And that crash of ’29? That happened on a Monday. Nah, Steely Dan was probably just being silly.

I’m not standing in any lines in freezing weather for three hours this morning outside of a store, only to find out that my hoped-for discounted item is sold out. But I’ll dedicate Steely Dan’s “Black Friday” to all those brave souls who will.

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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 jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, 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 https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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  • timmmahhhh

    From one of the YouTube videos the copyright police have disabled (had to be quick to grab this):
    “Steely Dan hit off Katy Lied (1975), featuring photos of Wall Street’s unusual suspects and certain of the nation’s other fixer fixtures.
    Answering those who have questioned relation of this mash to the first “Black Friday”, from a Steely Fan site:

    Brian Sweet reports, “In US history the first real Black Friday occurred on September 24, 1869, a day of panic in the securities market which was repeated nine years later. The term is often used on both sides of the Atlantic for any day of crisis, financial or otherwise, but there is no evidence to suggest that Becker and Fagen were referring to any particular occasion. They had simply used their collective imaginations to create a fictitious incident. “Becker and Fagen’s tale is of a crooked speculator who makes his fortune and absconds to Australia with the proceeds to live in the lap of luxury and seek forgiveness for his sins…. They chose Muswellbrook, a town in New South Wales, Australia, for the lyrics of the tune. ‘It was the place most far away from LA we could think of,’ explained Fagen… and, of course, it fitted the metre of the song and rhymed with ‘book.’ “

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