Wednesday, April 1, 2009

glad we got that settled

Donald Fagen - The Nightfly (listen)

Arthur Phillips, author of “Prague,” “The Egyptologist,” and “Angelica," mentioned in this week's Living with Music playlist in the NYT Paper Cuts blog that the DJ in "The Nightfly" was from Baton Rouge, which I thought strange, I'd never heard this before. I've been a DJ in baton Rouge in the past and been in plenty of "songs about Baton Rouge" conversations that come up at the intersection of local music nerds and alcohol. I am a reformed Steely Dan hater, so maybe someone told me before and I couldn't bear it.

I listened to it, and Fagen's weird singing style makes it difficult to hear, but the Internet conferred on this matter (I looked at a couple of lyrics pages) and agrees that the DJ is taking a call from Baton Rouge:
I'm Lester the Nightfly
Hello Baton Rouge
Won't you turn your radio down
Respect the seven second delay we use
referring to the seven second delay talk radio uses so that they can cut someone off if they start cussing. Callers have to turn their radio down because the signal of the radio station coming in through the receiver causes feedback. The DJ in question is on the air here:

An independent station
With jazz and conversation
From the foot of Mt. Belzoni
Sweet music
Tonight the night is mine
Late line 'til the sun comes through the skylight
Mt. Belzoni is likely referring to Belzoni, MS, birthplace of blues pianist Pinetop Perkins and site of the 1955 murder of The Rev. George W. Lee, a civil rights activist who, according to the Wikipedia article, was seeking voting rights for the disenfranchised blacks of the Mississippi Delta seeking to establish voting rights. According to this list of radio stations in the Belzoni area, there is no WJAZ, but given Belzoni's location in the Delta, it could be a fictionalization of KFFA in Helena, AR, 112 miles to the north and home of the legendary blues radio program "King Biscuit Time." Or, maybe it just sounded like bum-fuck nowhere, a place where a DJ resolutely might remark the following over the air after talking to a batshit caller from my fair city:
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
I am posting all this here as opposed on the comments section, because this precise kind of researched rebuke is the kind of hassle I will get from know-it-all-readers when I make a minor mistake like this, usually accompanied by a perhaps hyperbolic degree of outrage over my not tracing every goddamn detail down to the nub.

I am also posting as a reminder to myself to trace every goddamn detail down to the nub, because, well, it's the only thing you see when you see it.

To Mr. Fagen: we can't catch radio stations from Belzoni MS here, and for the most part, don't have mountains, but those are minor points. I suspect some over-informed Steely Danologist can address these issues better than I can.

1 comment:

  1. But I've picked up radio stations from Clarksdale (WROX-AM) and Memphis (WDIA-AM) here in BR.