You Turn And Run

runningaway

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? ~ Psalm 139:7

We hear you’re leaving, that’s OK
I thought our little wild time had just begun
I guess you kind of scared yourself, you turn and run
But if you have a change of heart

Running away. Where and when does it begin? As soon as one acquires the ability, I suppose. And we’re all running from something. Everyone has those skeletons in the closet. Don’t we?

Rikki don’t lose that number
You don’t wanna call nobody else
Send it off in a letter to yourself
Rikki don’t lose that number
It’s the only one you own
You might use it if you feel better
When you get home

But there is one that we can’t run from. No matter how hard we try. Well, two actually; we can’t run from ourselves, either. No sir, no way, no how. We try but we just can’t do it.  As Robert Palmer once sang “You might as well face it…”. But the good news is, there’s no reason to run, no real reason to hide. Because, at the end of it all, there will only be one to answer to. And he loves us most of all. And will be with us till the end of the age.

I have a friend in town, he’s heard your name
We can go out driving on Slow Hand Row
We could stay inside and play games, I don’t know
And you could have a change of heart

In a Rolling Stone interview in 2013, Donald Fagen said, “Walter and I aren’t fond of ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.’ It’s not a bad song. I think it’s well-written, but it’s just so simple. I just have listening fatigue. It’s been played so much.”

As it turns out, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” would become Steely Dan’s highest charting single of all time, reaching #4 on the Billboard charts in 1974.

You tell yourself you’re not my kind
But you don’t even know your mind
And you could have a change of heart

The greatness of Steely Dan was not just in the ability of the band’s masterminds, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, to craft such perfect jazz/rock/pop/funk sounds and lyrics together, but in their ability to assemble a seemingly endless revolving cast  of the finest studio musicians in the world to make them come to life.

A review of the liner notes on any Steely Dan album might include such stellar players as: Larry Carlton, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Michael McDonald, Jeff Porcaro, David Paich, Lee Ritenour, Chuck Rainey, Michael Omartion, and so many more that it’s hard to list them all here.  Needless to say, when I became a Steely Dan fan was when I learned to read album liner notes to see who was playing on an album. Once you knew who the quality players were, you could pick a hit record without ever listening to it. If you saw those names listed, no matter whose album it was, you knew it would be good.

A few interesting notes about Steely Dan:

  • Becker and Fagen were obsessed with perfection in sound. They would routinely use over 40 takes in a studio on any given track. For the album Gaucho (which only had 7 songs), they used 40 different studio musicians and 11 different engineers.
  • One of their early groups, The Leather Canary, featured Chevy Chase on drums.
  • Becker and Fagen were in the touring band for Jay and The Americans (“This Magic Moment”, “Cara Mia”), featuring the legendary Jay Black, for over a year, getting $100 per show. Early in the tour, the band’s manager cut their salary in half.
  • Early in their career’s, Walter Becker didn’t feel his vocals were good enough for commercial acceptance and Donald Fagen suffered from stage fright, so they hired ABC Records journeyman, David Palmer, to sing lead.

Becker and Fagen, it seemed, were continually trying to run away from success (and their own fears), but eventually overcame them. They have sold over 40 million records and were inducted into the Rock an Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001.

I guess it just proves the point: you can run, but you just can’t hide.

And to my buddy, David Sanders, this one’s for you.

Listen to the magic of Steely Dan (just as it sounded in ’74) here:

My sources for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steely_Dan

Songfacts.com: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3204

 

 

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