donald fagen, "the nightfly" -- c or d?

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this album (1982 i think) gets forgotten because the new steely dan narrative is "whoa they didn't make an album for 20 years what WERE they up to?"

but i like it a lot. it's supposed to be about a kid in the suburbs (long island), just about to graduate high school, for whom the radio and records serve as stray enticing bleeps from a distant satellite a.k.a. the big city. the nightfly himself is a late night radio dj who is the epitome of nyc sophistication. fagen appears as the n.f. on the cover. on the back cover there is a gorgeous photo of a block of bungalows in the middle of the night. but one light is on--presumably it's the kid, up listening to the radio.

the album manages to evoke this scenario and all the levittown associations perfectly without being especially retro (excepting the cover of "ruby baby" and the closing tin pan alley-styled song) and more significant without resorting to satire at all, or irony. there is an affection. but even that is muted. the presentation is almost clinical, not especially cynical or cruel, just clinical. detached. it's actually quite an achievement i think to conjure up a world that's been so worked-over with ironic and mythic appropriations and present it in this fashion.

i think this album should be in every s.d. fan's collection. i don't know about his follow up, kamarkiriad (sp?).

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 07:47 (nineteen years ago) link

it even has a kinda-disco track!

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 07:48 (nineteen years ago) link

this thread is a mash note to jbr who i sadly didn't get to see while i was in nyc.

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 07:51 (nineteen years ago) link

I love this record. The close harmony on "Maxine" makes me melt every time I hear it.

I think the title track would appeal to Alex in NYC for its mention of "WJAZ."

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Thursday, 3 July 2003 07:57 (nineteen years ago) link

(Sorry again our plans got foiled, Amst -- maybe it's high time I break down and get a cell phone.)

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Thursday, 3 July 2003 07:59 (nineteen years ago) link

more significant without resorting to satire at all, or irony

"What a beautiful world this will be, what a glorious time to be free". There's a huge difference in the way he sings this than the way he would on a Dan album. Free of that world-weary cynical tone (which I love, but it's a refreshing change).

I think 'New Frontier' was the first Dan-related song I ever heard.

James Ball (James Ball), Thursday, 3 July 2003 08:16 (nineteen years ago) link

That's IGY, or International Geophysics Year. I always assumed that song was drenched in irony. Was I wrong? I do like that bouncy track, it's so hyper smooth it is surreal.

colin s barrow (colin s barrow), Thursday, 3 July 2003 10:49 (nineteen years ago) link

I misread the inital question - I thought we were talking about the whole album.

James Ball (James Ball), Thursday, 3 July 2003 12:13 (nineteen years ago) link

"New Frontier" had a great, cold-war bomb shelter 50's animation style video that I remember quite digging. Is "True Companion" on this album? (originally released on the soundtrack to "Heavy Metal"?)

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Thursday, 3 July 2003 12:31 (nineteen years ago) link

amazing video 4 'new frontier', most evocative album about
being a teen in the suburbs ever.
first heard as a teen in the suburbs.
beautiful artwork too.
f*ckin ace. in manchester vinyl exchange it says
'ace balearic classic' on the album sleeve.

kamakiriad just doesn't measure up.

piscesboy, Thursday, 3 July 2003 13:29 (nineteen years ago) link

oh it's straight classic all right - "The Goodbye Look" was playing in a freaking airport I was passing through a month or so ago and I laughed my ass off since it's a song about destabilizing countries where airports are often sites of huge uglinesses i.e. this is a song where the protagonists may or may not be terrorists

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Thursday, 3 July 2003 13:34 (nineteen years ago) link

(That reminds me of hearing wedding bands perform "The End of the Innocence"!)

Re. "The Goddbye Look": It's about Cuba right (or Cuba is the most obvious ref. point)? There are some Dan-esque obscurantist bits in that song. What is "the goodbye look" anyhow?

Actually listening to this again before work, the title track isn't perfect. His singing is unusually strained and the station-ID-as-chorus thing gets a bit tiresome.

And as for irony, there is a gentle sort of irony to some of the songs, about kids of the '50s expecting a better world. But I'm not so sure that Fagen has closed down all possibility of this ever happening, or at least he doesn't sing as though he assumes these expectations had been thwarted something fierce.

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 14:17 (nineteen years ago) link

One of the best things about this LP is that it can be found at second hand stores for about 50 cents.

...OK I know "the goodbye look" comes from Ross MacDonald but the book that bears this title doesn't seem to bear much resemblance to the scenario related in the song. Or does it?

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 14:19 (nineteen years ago) link

It's funny. The radio station in the title cut, WJAZ, certainly *sounds* like a NYC station, but doesn't "Lester The NightFly" sing in the song, "Hello Baton Rouge?" (Or maybe that was just a caller with a request from Baton Rouge.)

Maybe DF was dreaming of a jazz station down south. Even as a teen, Fagen *knew* NYC because it's so close to the suburbs where he grew up.

Anyway, this album is my top 5 favorites of all time. Such great songs. Nothing Fagen has done since can come close.

I'm not sure if I was first introduced to it through "IGY" on Top 40 radio or the great "New Frontier" video on MTV.

I always associate "The Nightfly" with another classic from 1982/83 --Joe Jackson's "Night and Day". Seems to me "IGY" and "Steppin Out" were on the radio around the same time. My first intro to jazz, if you like.

And no, "True Companion" is not on "The Nightfly." Youy have to buy the "Heavy Metal" soundtrack.

Steven Ward, Thursday, 3 July 2003 14:20 (nineteen years ago) link

http://greggers.granitecity.com/elvis/women/images/weld009s.jpg

"...a touch of tuesday weld..."

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 14:22 (nineteen years ago) link

christ yeah but look at her in
'falling down' starring micheal douglas
sheesh !

by the way what's the '7 second delay wheeze'.
and is 'java' just like normal coffee or is it
something else ?

piscesboy, Thursday, 3 July 2003 15:40 (nineteen years ago) link

'java' is just what hep cats call coffee. 7 second delay is used so that the dj has a chance to bleep out any cuss words used by call-ins.

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 16:17 (nineteen years ago) link

oh yeah djs tell callers to turn off their radios in the b.g. because w/the delay it creates this disconcerting echo effect.

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 16:18 (nineteen years ago) link

"IGY" is not exactly "drenched" in irony, I don't think. It's ironic, sure. This is the wonderful world we envisioned way back when. But Fagen isn't pointing out the irony -- he doesn't break character and go, "But look at us now." He's singing from the POV of that wide-eyed kid, and nostalgically remembering how bright the future once was. It's a happy song. It's a nice song.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Thursday, 3 July 2003 17:12 (nineteen years ago) link

What is "the goodbye look" anyhow?

I don't think it's the kind of look you want to see.

Cause tonight they're arranging a small reception just for me
Behind the big casino by the sea

I know what happens
I read the book
I believe I just got the goodbye look

So I gather it's kinda like the "party" they threw for Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Thursday, 3 July 2003 17:19 (nineteen years ago) link

Or maybe he just means it's time to get the fuck off the island.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Thursday, 3 July 2003 17:25 (nineteen years ago) link

total classic, a record I don't (haven't) listen(ed) to near enough

M Matos (M Matos), Thursday, 3 July 2003 19:11 (nineteen years ago) link

yo(u) shou(l)d lis(ten) to (it) more

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 19:11 (nineteen years ago) link

it's in New York along w/almost everything else I own, and I'm not = dilemma

M Matos (M Matos), Thursday, 3 July 2003 19:13 (nineteen years ago) link

nelly and kelly might be able to help you with this one.

amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 3 July 2003 19:15 (nineteen years ago) link

Yes Kenan, I see your point.

Years ago some firends of mine a/b'd this record with a Steely Dan record, Aja I think/. It seemed outrageously clean and smooth by comparison, like of the pair, Fagan was the real obsessive compulsive when it came to studio technique. I remember him saying once that he couldn't use keyboard strings, as their tuning characteristics made him tense.

colin s barrow (colin s barrow), Thursday, 3 July 2003 21:14 (nineteen years ago) link

total classic. a wonderful, wonderful album. i hear IGY in public every once in a while, and it never fails to make me happy.

derrick (derrick), Friday, 4 July 2003 00:34 (nineteen years ago) link

It's a dazzling album, and I wish I still had a copy. (I left mine in front of a window in the sun, and it melted.)

Christine 'Green Leafy Dragon' Indigo (cindigo), Friday, 4 July 2003 04:25 (nineteen years ago) link

It seemed outrageously clean and smooth by comparison, like of the pair, Fagan was the real obsessive compulsive when it came to studio technique.

I think they both were, really. And 1982 has a lot to do with that Spyro Gyra production, too.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Friday, 4 July 2003 04:49 (nineteen years ago) link

Had a listen to this again last night - it really is a marvellous record. I like the liner notes:

"The songs on this album represent certain fantasies that might have been entertained by a young man growing up in the remote suburbs of a north-eastern city during the late fifties and early sixties, i.e. one of my general height, weight and build."

James Ball (James Ball), Friday, 4 July 2003 07:18 (nineteen years ago) link

There is irony there, at least in an ambivalent attitude towards the benefits of hindsight. These days irony seems to be getting frequent kickings from writers wanting presumably to assert how real they're keeping "it", ignoring the possibility that irony can be more generous or imaginatively open-ended than any apparent alternatives. Of which generosity and imagination The Nightfly would be very good example.

Neil Willett (Neil Willett), Friday, 4 July 2003 14:39 (nineteen years ago) link

"Maxine" is a classic car song (driving from New Haven to NYC a sunny afternoon). "Ruby Baby" is much better with Dion. The rest is great Dan-pop but it lacks the nerve of Beckers twisted inputs (Can´t Buy A Thrill, The Royal Scam). It´s better than Gaucho though.

Vincent Vern, Tuesday, 15 July 2003 10:37 (nineteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Whoa.

I've been a Steely Dan fan for quite a few years, but never thought to investigate the solo albums. Downloaded 'IGY' today and man, it kicked my ass. What a wonderful, heartbreaking song. Can the other songs on Nightfly possibly be anywhere near as good as this?

retort pouch (retort pouch), Friday, 22 October 2004 00:54 (seventeen years ago) link

I'd say that (at the least) "New Frontier" is as good. It really is a beautiful album.

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Friday, 22 October 2004 01:01 (seventeen years ago) link

Downloading it from the iTunes Music Store RIGHT NOW.

retort pouch (retort pouch), Friday, 22 October 2004 01:08 (seventeen years ago) link

This is not an original observation at this point in the thread, but yes, it is a great album, download it with my blessing.

o. nate (onate), Friday, 22 October 2004 01:31 (seventeen years ago) link

Listen to Kamakiriad, it's just as immaculate, if different in style and evocation. I can't remember how it sold; it's either out of print or massively discounted by now. Track down a copy.

derrick (derrick), Friday, 22 October 2004 04:53 (seventeen years ago) link

I think my favorites are "I.G.Y.," "New Frontier," and "The Goodbye Look"

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 22 October 2004 04:58 (seventeen years ago) link

I think I agree, with a nod to 'Maxine'.

derrick (derrick), Friday, 22 October 2004 06:25 (seventeen years ago) link

What of Becker's "11 Tracks of Whack"? Anyone heard that?

A Million Talking Hot Dogs (AaronHz), Friday, 22 October 2004 06:43 (seventeen years ago) link

yeah. it's kinda great, but it's kinda only great if you listen with the whole walter becker backstory in mind -- the aloof, sarcastic, richer-than-god muso freak studio hound who does too many drugs and fucks off to hawaii for detox/early retirement and spends the ensuing decade-and-change surfing and raising a kid and laughing his ass off at the absurdity of it all.

paranoia is the hipster's disease (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 22 October 2004 06:51 (seventeen years ago) link

Special shout out to the title track and 'The Goodbye Look'. Great, great album...
Been meaning to pick up 'Kamakiriad' but it's indeed pretty hard find these days

Baaderoni (Fabfunk), Friday, 22 October 2004 07:08 (seventeen years ago) link

yeah. it's kinda great, but it's kinda only great if you listen with the whole walter becker backstory in mind -- the aloof, sarcastic, richer-than-god muso freak studio hound who does too many drugs and fucks off to hawaii for detox/early retirement and spends the ensuing decade-and-change surfing and raising a kid and laughing his ass off at the absurdity of it all.

-- paranoia is the hipster's disease (theundergroundhom...), October 22nd, 2004.

And producing China Crisis.

Marcello Carlin, Friday, 22 October 2004 07:25 (seventeen years ago) link

The first two tracks and the last one are pure gold...the rest is okay. I'm talking about Becker, of course -- The Nightfly is 24 carat.

Jesse Fuchs (Jesse Fuchs), Friday, 22 October 2004 13:26 (seventeen years ago) link

It seemed outrageously clean and smooth by comparison, like of the pair, Fagan was the real obsessive compulsive when it came to studio technique.
I watched the documentary about the making of Aja last week
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6305772649/qid=1098456054/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl74/104-3659107-1279138?v=glance&s=dvd&n=507846)

Really really interesting - just to hear all of the parts broken down...

dave225 (Dave225), Friday, 22 October 2004 13:39 (seventeen years ago) link

MC FAGEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111

Jesse Fuchs (Jesse Fuchs), Friday, 22 October 2004 14:09 (seventeen years ago) link

There are some really great songs on Becker's album, but a lot of the production leaves me cold. Only three songs, I believe, used live drums, and the drum machine songs(esp. Girlfriend, Hard Up Case) suffer. His guitar sound is GREAT.

search 'Junkie Girl', 'Book of Liars', 'This Moody Bastard', 'Down In The Bottom', 'Lucky Henry'. Destroy 'Cringemaker', 'Girlfriend'.

If people seriously can't find Kamakiriad, i'll put it up on slsk myself; if you're serious about the Dan, you should hear it.

derrick (derrick), Friday, 22 October 2004 16:26 (seventeen years ago) link

And producing China Crisis.

and the rosie vela album!

paranoia is the hipster's disease (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 22 October 2004 16:31 (seventeen years ago) link

and rickie lee jones!

derrick (derrick), Friday, 22 October 2004 16:32 (seventeen years ago) link

five months pass...
"I.G.Y."

Best song ever? I rather think it might be.

retort pouch (retort pouch), Saturday, 2 April 2005 02:48 (seventeen years ago) link

Ian Penman's long, meandering review of Eminent Hipsters is fantastic - http://www.city-journal.org/2014/bc0119ip.html

Merdeyeux, Monday, 20 January 2014 10:20 (eight years ago) link

Epic.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 20 January 2014 14:03 (eight years ago) link

Thanks for the link, brilliant piece

chr1sb3singer, Monday, 20 January 2014 16:51 (eight years ago) link

Nice essay - I wonder if the book is as good as he makes it sound though.

o. nate, Monday, 27 January 2014 15:58 (eight years ago) link

it's not

Iago Galdston, Monday, 27 January 2014 17:13 (eight years ago) link

and it's not Annie Hall he should be referencing, more like Stardust Memories...the contempt he shows for his fans is a real turn off

Iago Galdston, Monday, 27 January 2014 17:14 (eight years ago) link

five months pass...

suggest ban

jamiesummerz, Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:11 (eight years ago) link

ha!

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:19 (eight years ago) link

Anyone heard the comedy album by Tom Schiller and Donald Fagen, "Tom and Don"? I started listening to it on Spotify the other day.

o. nate, Tuesday, 22 July 2014 14:29 (eight years ago) link

Nick listened: I don’t remember finding this offensive at all, or all that bland or alienating etc etc. But at the same time, I don’t remember ANYTHING about it at all.

Often posited as a negative, but is it? Does something have to be memorable to be good? If you went for a 3 hour walk in the woods, how much of that would you remember?

saer, Tuesday, 22 July 2014 17:38 (eight years ago) link

I generally have a hard time remembering concrete things about music if I haven't listened to it several times.

odd proggy geezer (Moodles), Tuesday, 22 July 2014 18:01 (eight years ago) link

I'm not sure things needs to be remembered!

saer, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 12:29 (eight years ago) link

Like Aja, it sounded too clean, too smug, too lift musak.

c'mon, this is sorta the point. just look at the album cover! i can understand why someone wouldn't like it, but it's like criticizing thrash metal for sounding aggressive.

Spectrum, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 13:10 (eight years ago) link

how is it smug? The sensibility is very different from Steely Dan's!

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 23 July 2014 13:26 (eight years ago) link

I think it's a pretty cheerful and nostalgic album

odd proggy geezer (Moodles), Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:25 (eight years ago) link

it's pretty romantic and almost gauzy

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:26 (eight years ago) link

Nightfly and Blonde Redhead were the soundtracks to my chemotherapy.

I wouldn't say it's a "fond" memory, but I have very tranquil, peaceful memories of slipping out as the intro to "Goodbye Look" played.

Both kinda stimulating and relaxing at the same time, if that makes any sense.

pplains, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:29 (eight years ago) link

three years pass...

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Y61%2BlCb7L._SS500.jpg

Missed this from October: Nightfly Trilogy Box reissue (on CD & Vinyl) minus all the DVD 5.1 stuff but with the added attraction of Sunken Condos.

Never Learn To Mike Love (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 13 December 2017 00:05 (four years ago) link

Back Cover Tracklist:

https://imagescdn.juno.co.uk/full/CS665435-01B-BIG.jpg

Never Learn To Mike Love (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 13 December 2017 00:06 (four years ago) link

Lol at that cover photo

tylerw, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 00:16 (four years ago) link

Woah paging the idgaf old man swag thread!

badg, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 01:50 (four years ago) link

is he... wearing shoulderpads?

brimstead, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 01:52 (four years ago) link

I’ll have the 10 extras with a side of insouciance please

calstars, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 02:11 (four years ago) link

Lol at the cover. This is cheap though, 7LP's for 80 euros or so.

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 13 December 2017 09:42 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

So distracted by the cowbell on New Frontier, it’s the only thing I can hear on this track now. And it just doesn’t let up

calstars, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 00:03 (three years ago) link

a good thing?

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 16 January 2019 00:08 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

What a find.

pplains, Sunday, 24 February 2019 05:56 (three years ago) link

Night Music’s the gift that keeps on giving. Man.

You can't see it but I had an epiphany (Champiness), Sunday, 24 February 2019 06:14 (three years ago) link

Holy fsck! So good

calstars, Sunday, 24 February 2019 23:35 (three years ago) link

two months pass...

I don’t where to put this so I am putting it here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8fU18_IEGY

Theory of Every Zing (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 27 April 2019 22:35 (three years ago) link

took me a minute but good to see old D. What's that big black and white photograph on his keyboard? Also who's the guitar guy - could it be old Jeff Beck?

calstars, Sunday, 28 April 2019 01:17 (three years ago) link

Guitar guy is indeed Jeff Beck.

Theory of Every Zing (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 28 April 2019 14:13 (three years ago) link

Ah cool. He had one, maybe two inspired moments during his solo. Kind of a sleepy performance all around though. Probably the drummers fault.

calstars, Sunday, 28 April 2019 18:35 (three years ago) link

You mean that hack Bernard Purdie? ;)

You can't see it but I had an epiphany (Champiness), Sunday, 28 April 2019 18:39 (three years ago) link

What? That was Purdie? No way

calstars, Sunday, 28 April 2019 18:46 (three years ago) link

two months pass...

https://youtu.be/zx_4fwOfRXI
DOnald explains the world as he knows it in ‘93

calstars, Saturday, 13 July 2019 04:09 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

New live album is perhaps unnecessary, but I'm enjoying it!

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 29 September 2021 21:02 (ten months ago) link

it is good! ditto the new steely dan live album — yeah, unnecessary, but it sounds damn good.

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 September 2021 21:12 (ten months ago) link

ha, yeah the Dan one is up next after I finish this one.

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 29 September 2021 21:13 (ten months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Donald Fagen during James Hamilton's album cover photoshoot for his 1982 masterpiece, 'The Nightfly' pic.twitter.com/PLbuxfeUxI

— Barney Hurley (@barneyhurley1) October 14, 2021

calstars, Friday, 15 October 2021 01:43 (ten months ago) link

Donald Fagen 'Yamaha KX88' keyboards store poster, 1983 pic.twitter.com/uZ5CluSyl8

— Barney Hurley (@barneyhurley1) October 15, 2021

calstars, Friday, 15 October 2021 21:30 (ten months ago) link

lolz

tylerw, Friday, 15 October 2021 21:47 (ten months ago) link

Trying to imagine how differently The Nightfly would have been received if that shot above had been the cover. People would have reviewed it like it was Fagen's version of The Idiot.

but also fuck you (unperson), Friday, 15 October 2021 23:52 (ten months ago) link

Straight to VHS slasher vibes

calstars, Saturday, 16 October 2021 00:15 (ten months ago) link

Does Don ever smile?

calstars, Saturday, 16 October 2021 00:19 (ten months ago) link

five months pass...

His lips sometimes curl up to show his teeth, does that count ?
https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xytRyW-HpC4/TxDDY2DV2QI/AAAAAAAAHjI/yeQw3oeq5ns/s1600/donald.jpg

Nabozo, Wednesday, 16 March 2022 15:54 (five months ago) link

four months pass...

lou chang/her brother/he's burning with rage
louuu chaaang buuurns wiith rage

flopson, Friday, 29 July 2022 23:03 (two weeks ago) link


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