Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Search of Eddie Riff (Pt. II)

From 1974, and their incomparable Pretzel Logic album, please enjoy Steely Dan and perhaps the best and most straightforwardly pop thing they ever did (certainly, it remains my favorite of their singles).

By which I mean the haunting "Rikki Don't Lose That Number."





And now from 1964, please enjoy the jazz original from which Messrs. Becker and Fagen -- lifted? appropriated? stole? -- their hit's opening E-octave piano riff.





At this stage in the game, the track's provenance vis a vis Steely Dan isn't really all that obscure any more, but the first time I heard it -- mid-90s, I think, at my local watering hole -- I was easily as taken aback as I'd been hearing yesterday's Bo Diddley riff vis a vis the Stones. In any case, I'm not much of a jazzbo, but I think this is a nifty little piece of music in its own right; I'll bet dollars to donuts that drummer Guy Patterson (aka Tom Everett Scott's character in That Thing You Do!) used to practice to it in his folks appliance store basement all the time.

No Googling, obviously, but a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who correctly identifies it.

15 comments:

Dave Lifton said...

Song For My Father by Horace Silver

Moose said...

You have a winner! I should have stayed up a bit longer!

steve simels said...

Prize to Dave. Heading your way by paramecium caravan as we speak.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Piece of cake Simels. When I first heard that HS record, I stopped dead in my tracks!

David said...

What most people don't catch about "Rikki" is its not especially subtle gay subtext. Rikki almost goes through with a same-sex romp but ends up splitting prematurely. The singer understands but says, "if you have a change of heart," drop a dime, and even goes deeper with, "You tell yourself you're not my kind/but you don't even know your mind." You had to be crafty to get this sort of thing into the Top 10 back then, while now 8-year-old girls sing along to "I Kissed a Girl"

mcpart said...

Great "reintepretation" but then Steely Dan later had the nerve to sue De La Soul for this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1CaN4thI5w

steve simels said...

Dave:

You know, I really need to start paying more attention to lyrics.

Seriously -- I had never contemplated the gay subtext to Rikki until you mentioned it, and now that I think, it's so obvious a blind man could see it with a cane.

Wow.

David said...

Hey, I'm extremely guilty of missing out on lyrics. I'm always amazed when you can find new things, or entire subtexts, in songs you've heard a million times. Don't remember who pointed this out to me, but I think it really enriches an already great song and makes me admire the Dan all the more. It's far more subtle and clever than that Cousin Dupree song.

Ken J said...

I caught the lyrics, but always was mystified by the androgynous name of Rikki. But that is what makes the song all the more intriguing. But yeah, its certainly about closeted sex and denial thereof.

FD13NYC said...

Sexual denial in India! I like the Cousin Dupree song, Lunch With Gina is also a gem.

Peter said...

With all due respect, I think SD was completely within their rights to sue over De La Soul's appropriation of the groove, harmonies, and melody of "Peg" to form the main hook to their song. It's one thing to tell the bass-player, "Yeah, let's open with that three-note vamp from 'Song for my Father' before we get into the changes," another to form your entire track out of pieces of an actual recording, which is manifestly someone else's intellectual property. Without the "Peg" material De La Soul (where are THEY now?) has no record.

David said...

De La Soul did a successful tour last year and have done pretty well for themselves. Clearly they lifted "Peg" for their song "Eye Know," but they nevertheless rank among the more original rap acts, and by no means are they residing in the where-are-they-now file.

steve simels said...

It's one thing to tell the bass-player, "Yeah, let's open with that three-note vamp from 'Song for my Father' before we get into the changes," another to form your entire track out of pieces of an actual recording,

Sampling involves some grey areas from time to time, but I think Peter's right about this one.

Alex said...

Tom Robinson (of "Sing if You're Glad to Be Gay" fame) covered this song on his great Hope & Glory album (and described "Rikki" as the "best gay song ever written"). Robinson also added the bridge from "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" to his version to bring the point home:

I can tell you all I know, the where to go, the what to do/
You can try to run, but you can't hide from what's inside of you

David said...

That's the ultimate endorsement, sort of like Stevie Wonder calling Elton John's "Daniel" the best blind song ever.