Tag: donald fagen

Original v. Cover — #50 in a Series

Charlie Chaplin Pictures, Images and Photos

This week’s cover version was performed by an album-rock oriented jazz rock group who became known to the country in 1972 with their first ever Top 40 hit, which debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 18, 1972, rising to #6 in 1973.  Although the song was credited to “Trad”, it was actually co-written by the group’s two enigmatic leaders.  It was written in the key of G minor, employing a significant amount of syncopation in the vocal melody, which was somewhat rare in rock music at the time.  It was also one of the first times in pop music in which the pitch-shifting technique was used during the organ solo.  An electric sitar solo was also included for additional effect.  

The group itself peaked in popularity in the late 1970s, having released seven albums that were a unique mix of jazz, rock, funk, R&B and pop.  Rolling Stone magazine referred to them as “The perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies.”  Contrary to the simple 1-4-5 chord sequence of classics such as “Louie, Louie”, the group’s songs were characterized by complex jazz-influenced structures and harmonies, not exactly the kind of music that most musicians could play by ear unless they were very talented.  Their lyrics have been referred to as “cerebral, wry and eccentric”, punctuated by sharp sarcasm, exploring themes such as crime, drugs, love affairs and their true-to-life contempt for hippie culture.  

Soundtrack to a personal archaeological dig

The simple task of reorganizing a CD collection, punctuated with stops to listen along the way, affords your humble essayist the opportunity to honestly identify a long-crusted-over, never resolved, and wholly destructive inner inconsistency. Wow. Who knew?

Let’s get right to it. The conflict is so apparent, it’s astonishing only in how long seeing it for myself has proven elusive:

I’ve got plenty of java
And Chesterfield Kings
But I feel like crying
I wish I had a heart like ice
Heart like ice

The Nightfly
Donald Fagen, The Nightfly, 1982

Take a knife
Cut out this heart of ice
Hold it high
Walk into the sun

Heart of Ice
Joe Jackson, Body & Soul, 1984

These are lyrics that spoke to me. I felt them. I let them stick around. And it’s only now that I reckon the sentiments expressed don’t play well with each other. There’s just not enough room in this town for the both of them.