I think that Steely Dan rewards musical connoisseurship of a level I’m not on as a nonmusician. The notorious perfectionism of Becker and Fagen, their insistence on the highest virtuosity, those things are the stuff of legend to audiophiles. The complexity of their songs speak to people who understand the science of music. For the rest of us, it’s soft rock. It’s a bizarre miracle that such a music-nerd oriented band became a hit machine, then ended up a staple of oldies stations. Hearing Steely Dan on the radio, sandwiched between Steve Miller and Aerosmith, well, what’s that they say about pearls before swine? It’s like chugging a fifteen-ingredient fifteen dollar cocktail just to get drunk.


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