Walter Becker, “She Was Good” (early 1990s): Steely Dan Sunday

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Dropped out of nowhere late last Thursday night — the way the Walter Becker Estate likes to roll — “She Was Good” is another track that grew out of the large satchel full of tunes Becker had collected going into the pare down phase of 11 Tracks of Whack.

Steely Dan/Becker fans will instinctively try to find the connections between this song and his other, ‘official’ output. I know, I did that, too. The first association I made was the song’s topic: it looks like the narrator is falling for another hooker again (see “Junkie Girl” and even way back to “Pearl of the Quarter”), but at least this time he knows it’s lust and nothing deeper than that:

Good — she was good — good for nothing
Nothing but that one thing, as far as I could tell
That was enough to believe in
And all else is forgotten
Maybe just as well.

Also, this call girl’s name is “Janie,” who was the name of another object of lust in the perverse “Janie Runaway.” There are likely many other ways to overanalyze this song and the lyrics provided here surely provides plenty of fodder for that.

Oh, so about how it sounds. In keeping with Walter Becker Media’s policy of letting loose WB recordings pretty much as they were left, “She Was Good” is presented to us solidly in demo form, though the audio remains good and Becker had done quite a bit of work on the vocals. My favorite part comes just as he sings the last stanza, his jazzy guitar noodling takes the baton. It’s not even the tasty licks that grabs attention but that “clean, ‘pre Bogner/ Mesa Maverick tube amp rediscovery’ sound” thing he’s got going. The man always knew his gear and how to use it.

And in a final twist, this song may have been intended to mimic the style of a highly exposed musical act of the circa 1990 time frame. Which act? I’m drawing a blank, here. Care to gander a guess or two?


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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