On Second Thought
Steely Dan – Gaucho

By: Mike Powell
2006-06-27



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Posted 06/27/2006 - 02:49:13 PM by r-square:
 Bravo for completely nailing Gaucho. For years I've been a little embarassed about liking Steely Dan--after all, their main audience seems to be post-middle-age baby boomers. But, as your review shows, there's a cynical (to say the least) core to the Dan's music; behind the shiny acoustics lies some of the most twisted music on the planet--beyond Elliott-Smith-style depression to something much more dark. SD newbies should also check out the early albums, which have less of a smooth jazz feel to them.
 
Posted 06/27/2006 - 09:08:06 PM by luckystrike:
 Thank you, Mike, for caring. I remember reading a Rolling Stone interview with Fagen and Becker around the time Gaucho was released. Most intriguing to me was the story that the 'best' song on the album, called 'The Second Arrangement,' was somehow completely and accidentally erased by a hapless engineer. This story helped to explain how the center of the album seemed to be missing. I liked some of Gaucho at the time, particularly 'Time Out of Mind' and 'Babylon Sisters,' but the album as a whole felt very disappointing in a particularly disheartening and dispirited way. Your essay wonderfully discusses this and celebrates these dismal qualities from an intriguingly cheerful aspect. Since 1980, I have yearned to hear 'The Second Arrangement,' if indeed it existed at all. Around 2002, through the lifechanging miracle of filesharing, I was able to download and hear this most mythic of songs, in both a clear, sparse demo form and a distorted but complete studio recording. I have never been more excited in my life (I know, I know). Of course the actual song could never live up to its myth - or could it? In fact, it turns out that Gaucho would be no more or less complete with 'The Second Arrangement,' only longer and more of what it already is. Which is what you say it is. Bless your heart.
 
Posted 09/03/2006 - 11:30:53 AM by ClaudeBalls:
 Great write-up. I hope someday you get to hear the outtakes from this album. Songs like The Bear, Were You Blind That Day (Third World Man with completely different lyrics), Kulee Baba, Second Arrangement, and I Can't Write Home About You are all odes to loserdom on par with anything that made the final cut. You forgot to mention one of the most subversive things about Gaucho - the title track is a staple of Muzak playlists. I always chuckle internally when I hear it accompanying my shopping cart journey.