That most notoriously unsentimental of bands, Steely Dan, are coming back to North Texas. (Well, the North Texas area. Kind of.) Comprised essentially of two men, singer Donald Fagen and guitarist Walter Becker, the band has shuffled unapologetically through its band members over the years, drawing primarily on the likes of top-notch session musicians for classic albums like Countdown to Ecstasy and Aja.
It's appropriate, then, that gambling is such a prominent theme in their catalog. After all, playing the odds can make for one cold, cruel experience. So in honor of the Dan's visit to WinStar Casino just over the border in Thackerville, Oklahoma this Friday, here are 10 of their best songs about the vice.
1.Show Biz Kids
"You go to Las Vegas," opens up this killer track from 1973'sCountdown to Ecstasy
. Sure, Thackerville's no Vegas, but this is one of the best early Dan songs where Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were not afraid to rock.
From 1976'sThe Royal Scam
, "Green Earrings," like many Steely Dan songs, is where the imagery is more important than any literal meaning. Hearing about Greek medallions and goggles and stealing earrings certainly sounds appropriate for a casino.
Also fromThe Royal Scam
, this reggae-tinged single speaks to what happens after a few too many trips to Thackerville.
4.Any Major Dude Will Tell You
"I never saw you looking so bad, my funky one," sings Fagen on this classic song from 1974'sPretzel Logic
. The song serves as a warning for those who have "the demon at your door."
, one of the best albums of that sad decade, "Black Cow" permeates like the sweet alcoholic beverage it's named after. And we all know how well (or sadly) drinking goes with gambling.
, "Deacon Blues" mentions gamblers and features a weary worldview that fits Thackerville perfectly. "They got a name for the winners in the world and I want a name when I lose," sings Fagen as fatalistically as possible.
7.Do It Again
"Now you swear and kick in beg us that you're not a gambling man/Then you find you're back in Vegas with a handle in your hand." Enough said.
8.The Royal Scam
The title track of this great album tells of foreigners coming to a land that turns out to be less than they imagined. Uh, have you been to Thackerville?
From 1975's underrated gemKaty Lied
, "Black Friday" is not just about the stock market crash in 1929. This rocking little number chronicles many a bad day. Hopefully, this Friday won't prove to be the same. My advice: keep most of your money in your pocket.
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Also from Katy Lied, "Bad Sneakers" is the song you should listen to on your way home, when all you have left might be said shoes.