Steely Dan was founded in 1972 by its two core members, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. They enjoyed a good run from 72 to 1981 before breaking up, and were known as the perfect antiheroes for the 70s. They worked with a revolving door policy and had several musicians help make the band famous, but they stopped touring in 74 and became a studio band only. Eventually Fagen and Becker would get back together and start touring again in the 90s, and to be honest they came back to a following that had never really left. But when Becker passed away in 2017 Fagen kept moving forward as the last original founding member of the band. To date he’s still performing and still drawing musicians to his side when he needs them and is still every bit as good as he was when he started.
Here are a few instances in which their music was used to heighten the TV or movie experience.
5. The Simpsons – Babylon Sisters
Anytime you see Homer in charge of anything other than a can of beer in his hand you should be getting nervous since it can’t bode well for anyone that might be involved. When he gets a little power mad and goes all Dr. Evil on everyone things tend to get a little messy and go a little haywire in ways you couldn’t, but should, be expecting since this is after all the Simpsons. Given Homer’s age you can easily assume that Steely Dan is going to be one of his favorites and will be involved somehow his conquest of the world and that it will be the backdrop for something that’s uniquely silly. It’s the Simpsons after all.
4. American Hustle – Dirty Work
This movie s one giant scam from beginning to end but it’s kind of entertaining since it’s interesting to see who knows they’re being scammed and who’s going to end up with egg on their face in the end. The stellar cast is enough to make you look and the story is enough to keep you around for a while until you finally figure out just what’s going on and why. The strange but necessary eccentricities of each character are enough to make you roll your eyes a few times but if you really pay attention then you might find out something about the movie that you didn’t initially notice. And that’s the fun part of it.
3. R.I.P.D – Hey Nineteen
When you die and go to face your judgment you don’t normally think that you’re going to find yourself in an office setting being explained to the fact that you could have been found wanting but have a set of skills that are desirable in the afterlife. That’s just not something that you would think of really on a regular basis. All the same, Ryan Reynolds is at least pretty sure that he wants to go back to earth, but that’s all dependent on the fact that he understands that he can’t contact anyone that knows him and he won’t look like the same person he once was. The rules when you die are pretty messed up sometimes.
2. Almost Famous – Reelin In the Years
Everyone wants to feel cool at some point in their lives because it’s a good feeling and it’s nice to have friends. But as a journalist you’ve always got to remember that at one point and time in your life there’s always the possibility that you’re going to make someone made by what you write about them and then the friendship could be over. Getting too close to your subjects or the story you’re writing is usually a mistake but people do it anyway out of a sense of misguided trust, friendship, and sometimes just the need to be someone for a few minutes a time. It’s a trap that a lot of people fall into willingly and don’t think twice about until it’s too late.
1. Steely Dan – Deacon Blues
Sometimes there’s nothing for it but to watch the band in all their glory in a live show and be ultimately impressed. What’s inspirational in a way is that the fans of Steely Dan never really went away. A lot of them accepted the fact that the band went on a long hiatus for a little over a decade, but a lot of them didn’t think twice when they came back and reveled in it. That’s the kind of popularity that many bands try to obtain early on in their career and too many of them never seem to get. For the one band that makes it there are usually 99 that don’t. The bands that don’t make it either keep trying and do what they can to get by, or they fade off and are never heard from again.
Thankfully Steely Dan came back and will hopefully be around for a while to come.