“When Donald [Fagen] and I started writing together way back when we were in college and for several years after that, the songs that we wrote were humorous but in fact they were too humorous....They were just too jokey and sounded like novelty songs. But we realized that was a liability and so we developed over time and we sort of tempered that idea, and honed into the idea of things having humor in them but a certain kind of humor and a certain amount of humor, along with other stuff. Because we were both definitely interested in humor as a central element of what we were doing, but we didn’t want to write Tom Lehrer songs.”—Songwriter-guitarist Walter Becker, on his collaboration with Steely Dan partner Donald Fagen, interviewed by Paul Zollo, Songwriters on Songwriting, Expanded Fourth Edition (2003)
Walter Becker was born on this day 65 years ago in Queens, N.Y. One of the best short summaries of the importance of Steely Dan is Nicholas Pell’s post on the blog “The Nervous Breakdown.”
For further details on a turning point in the career of Steely Dan—their decision to cease live performing after the Fourth of July in 1974—see my post from last year.