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Steely Dan visit Dallas tonight, but Donald Fagen probably won't sing about the city.
Steely Dan visit Dallas tonight, but Donald Fagen probably won't sing about the city.
Timothy Norris

Steely Dan Named a Song After Dallas, But They'd Prefer You Never Hear It

Steely Dan have no shortage of songs to their name. Across their nine studio albums, they've released more than 80 songs, 10 of which were Top 40 hits, including such FM radio staples as "Reelin' in the Years," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and "Hey Nineteen." But there's at least one song that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers would probably prefer you never hear, and it just happens to be named after Dallas.

"Dallas" was the A-side of a non-album single that Steely Dan released prior to their debut album, 1972's Can't Buy a Thrill. Backed with "Sail the Waterway," it was the first recording the band ever released — a fact made all the more unusual by the fact that principal members Donald Fagen and Walter Becker have largely disowned it in the four and a half decades since its release.

"'Dallas/Sail the Waterway' has been disowned by Steely Dan but hasn't precisely been buried," says Stephen Thomas Erlewine, the senior editor for pop at Rovi who's written extensively about Steely Dan's music. "It's their prerogative, of course: Any group as fanatical about quality control as them certainly can excise a single."

The song's fate as a single isn't even clear: Promotional copies were pressed and distributed at the time, but it's unknown whether "Dallas" ever received public release or if it simply sold too poorly to chart.

"Hard to tell if it was actually released," acknowledge