If you’d told me in 1978 that I would be attending a Steely Dan concert in 2009, I’d have looked at you funny. Who can imagine being 48 years old when they’re 17? Who wants to think about a favorite band – at its peak – playing well past its prime? And who, at that time, would allow that Steely Dan would ever perform live again, given their move towards becoming the ultimate in-studio recording artists?
But there I was last night – in 2009 – with my college friend Rob (acclaimed music critic and Brown freshman year dorm mate from 1979) listening to Steely Dan play the entire Aja album (in order), plus 15 or so other classics. This most fastidious of studio bands delivered a terrific live set, with all the complex jazz, rock, R&B and other influences sounding as smooth as I remembered. Donald Fagan’s vocals were painfully strained, but his enthusiasm and commitment made up for it.
Memories of another time in music flowed: Listening to an album as an entire composition … reading lyrics on the record sleeve … sitting in my bedroom with my Sennheiser headphones on… anticipating a band’s new release.
What do ya know? Thirty years later and there I sat, reeling in the years. It felt good.