WB's 'Hey 19 Rap' of the Week
Let's do the time warp again....
Happy New Year 2019! That last newsletter was such a nice read, and a sad one. Your feelings are translated to this guy, me, somewhere in the Netherlands, and not liking Newe Herring *grin*.
(sorry for my not so okidoki English, double Dutch)
My ideas for 2019 are again, same like last 35 years more or less (I'm 50 now): learning to make good music. Improve as a guitarplayer, making a nice blend between jazz, blues and some raw biting rock (I don't want too much saturation, just a little edge).
So I am open to any story behind the music. I am sure there are so many of these studio stories laying around waiting to be heard. And I would love to read about the psychological stuff going on when playing and making music. Music is hard work. Music is making mistakes, hating yourself for not improving, comparing yourself to others. I got hurt a lot over the years a lot, but I never gave up making music. Won't never do that. And I must admit that I love the level of playing I got myself into. Would never have thought I was capable of this.
Short answer: I want to learn from Walter. And others.
Have a good year everyone! And thanks to the internet that got us all connected!
I like where you're going here. I think becoming a better creator is a goal for me every year, and though I am not a guitarist I am more what Walter called a "guitar owner"), I've found myself drawn to some of Walter's solo work as I sit at my piano. Specifically, I've been trying to work out an arrangement of Surf And/Or Die, and have become mesmerized by its deceptiveness. I think the bass stays largely in the same spot, with the chords shifting above the tonic bass, making for some very interesting interactions. Musically it is similar to Bob Is Not Your Uncle Anymore, with the repeating bass motif driving, but also sometimes counterpointing, the melody, and making the harmonic structure incredibly complex while sounding relatively simple.
I keep telling myself I'll write up the chord changes and write more in depth about that particular song and share it here, but I find the prospect incredibly foreboding and maybe beyond my musical ability. But like you, I think I want to be better in many ways in this new year, and to learn from Walter, and Walter put himself out there. So I will to, and hope that within the coming weeks I can offer a real in depth look at that song, and maybe move onto a few more favorite tracks. And of course I would love to have other people take a deep dive into why they appreciate this music, and to maybe make it possible for a few more people to play these songs.
Thanks for sharing, and all the best wishes in the new year!
well that's ineresting, Marco. I think the best way you're going to learn from Walter (or anyone else) is if our co-members here contribute some analysis or insight...sort of like what it appears Matt is hoping to do by tearing apart Surf/Die and putting it back together again. Walter wrote little bits of things about the music business from time to time, but not playing itself--as you know, he was largely self-taught and any guitar line he'd play was because of ear, not theory. Same with writing I'd say (that's probably why his changes are so odd, he's not beholden to a standard scale or resolution.). It's no shocker to learn that after a summer of playing, however, he'd be playing way better than he was at the start. His only real teacher was practice practice practice.
@Moderator: D-Mod thanks, didn't know Walter was not into theory. I know Fagen is. Must say I am a nifty harmonic analyser by hard. For me theory is the foundation, blues and classical modal music, jazz of course. And trying to break out of the rules, bend them a bit. I know you can also do that by ear, but I am so much of an analist, I guess it's human nature.
It's really good to get a varied message like yours on New Year's Day 2019 - it's good to feel a part of a community. Your observations are so clever, knowing, newly-minted but on the right side of the good heart. Being in feels secret and cosy, and how we are a part of the hippest gang in the world. I am looking forward to seeing where this goes. Here is something I wrote recently, to start things off, hoping it's appropriate and welcome
My Father on Christmas Day 2018
My Father was in hospital on Christmas Day 2018
He'd been there for 11days, due to be discharged that day
But the pain in his back persisted, so they kept him there
It wasn't clear what the problem was, but he said it could be his kidney
I got there about 5pm, and he stared at me as at a stranger
Until he realised who I was, and said my name
He was in a bed by the window, high up over the ground
Looking across a wide expanse of sky and a town effusive with lights
We sat and talked for 3 hours but at one point it got so warm
That I dozed off, and he apologised to me as I started when he spoke
I kept watch outside while he shaved, he wanted me there in case he fell
He said the drug he was taking hollowed his bones
He had osteoporosis, and a fall would likely break his bones
He liked to be cleanshaven, he said, for when the Consultants came
As they were due to the next morning. He said they appeared like Angels
From Heaven, and I realised he wasn't being complimentary, but sarcastic
And I laughed which made him laugh. There were 3 other men in his ward
One of them talked about how when he died soon, he would be skin and bones
Another one was grouchy, and waiting to unleash his ire at Nurses
The third was stoical and patient, and lent his spoon to my Father
Advising him to wash it first, like Lear reeking of mortality
I mobile-connected my Father to two women he loved, and he enjoyed being courtly
Deriving real pleasure and joy from speaking to these two who
Treated him like a substantial man still, contrasting with the impotence and weakness
He was made to feel by others, the loss of his power, the loss of his utility
He told me about how in 1979 he had helped the mother of a young man dying of leukaemia
Go to the Consultant to ask him to help her son who was stranded at Bombay Airport
Waiting for a staff-discounted flight but had then started coughing blood
The son had gone back to India to say goodbye before he died
The family he had been travelling with had been given flights and he had to wait alone
The Oncologist had contacted the British Embassy who arranged for a priority flight back
A few days later, the son died in hospital on the day my Father returned from pilgrimage to Fatima
My Father is facing Death himself; he is terrified; he is angry; he abhors extinction
Extinction of self, his thoughts, experiences, feelings, his memories, everything
The idyllic childhood, the wedding and honeymoon, the birth of children, being the king of your self, making hygge
How cruel this way of being and living that we are all perforcedly time expiry-dated
With no option around that finality. It makes me abandon my bed for fear I will choke
Stop breathing; so powerless and borne down on, so unable to do anything to prevent it. T
here will come a time when I cannot see my Father, when I cannot speak to him, I will want to but I cannot He will not be there, extinguished, and the memory will falter and fade with time despite myself
And I cannot do anything, helpless again, as I was when newly-born and he took me in his arms
Smiling and compassionate, walking down that sunlit equatorial walkway to our flat at the end
Of the block at the end of a working day, handsome, young, with the future still before him
All those years ago, where did we all go, what became of all our promise and our best selves?
I asked him in which of the countries he had lived had he been happiest.
I expected him to say “Malaysia” or “India”. He said he had only been in India for 19 years of his life.
It was England where he was happiest, but he gave as the reason the availability of free healthcare
And I wondered if he was allowing his present circumstances to overwhelm his accurate assessment
He said that my Mother could only have gotten the healthcare she needed here in England
And I could see that he did love my Mother, despite the loss of the woman he knew to Dementia
And his weakness and powerlessness to help her because of his own advanced age
I'd told him that she had insisted on coming to see him but we had firmly declined; he said “Well Done”
I could see that he worried how she would cope and continue after him, alone after all the years
Then my Father pole-vaulted the usual; gave me an image I would never have known, something new and wondrous
In microcosm the rerun fable of giving me life, that opportunity to learn and experience
He told me that these days high above the ground in his hospital ward he awoke at dawn for medication Early dawn, the moon still there, (there before him, there after him), he would look out his high-rise window
And as the sun intimated a luminous pale orange, he would see queuing in the sky after the night-time curfew
Tens of planes from all over the world heading towards Heathrow. “They come from all over the world” He said with real wonder in his voice, that boy he used to be still there after all this time, at 91
All the things he had seen and felt, awaiting extinction but still humanly noble in a wearied way.
As I left, we shook hands formally, and neither knows whether for the last time on this Earth
But both know that something of moment passed between two generations, however unworthy the particular representatives
I was talking to an old Dan friend (or is that fiend?) the other day about how something about Walter and his work makes you want to both be more literate and to share your literary tastes and efforts with "those of my kind." Thank you for sharing this piece, which I felt like shared a certain world weary hopefulness with my own thoughts. All the best in the new year, and I hope you feel encouraged to continue to share your creations and to continue to hang out here with us.
zebalby, that was one gawd-awful beautiful thing you wrote and left here, thanks for doing so, There's lot of moving tide pools and currents moving through the whole piece, some sharp, some lovely, but I don't think I've read an image more stirring, more…fundamental, in some strange way, than the line up of planes coming into Heathrow in the first light. Wonderful piece, thanks for sharing — not just the writing, but the piece of life it describes. Several images from it will stay with me a long while
@Moderator: D-Mod That's so generous of you. Thanks.
sorry to be a pain D, (and probably a complete knobhead as well), but i can't access the caption competition, i have all the relevant readers etc. Is the competition closed or exclusive to north america?
no pain -- especially ince I'm going t ask Matt to troubleshoot1Thanks for your patience!
Stephen, where are you trying to access from and I'll see if I can troubleshoot.
In the meantime, the page is at: http://walterbecker.com/captions.html
I've checked through proxy and it appears to be working in the US, Canada, the UK, and the EU countries I checked, though experience tells me that just because it works for one person now doesn't mean it does for the next person in a moment. If you'd like, I would be happy to email you the images so you can peruse and submit your captions at your leisure.
that would be fantastic matt,
happy new year
Hello, all. I'm always so happy to receive the Walter Becker Newsletter. The New Year's installment was especially wonderful, prompting me to write the group for the first time.
Before the November 2009 "Royal Scam" show in Washington, D.C., I said to Mr. Becker (May I call him Walter?), "I listen to 'Circus Money' every day." I did. More than nine years later, I sit and listen to that album and "11 Tracks of Whack," in their entirety, at least twice a month. Generally, music he wrote, performed, and/or produced is part of my everyday life.
The above is a sliver of my Walter Becker provenance, if you will. I share it not to boast or illustrate what an uber-fan I am; instead, I hope it will help express how much I adore his music, his mind, his insight, his use of language, and his wit. These are things I think about deeply and earnestly when I listen to his music or that can spontaneously appear in my mind throughout the day: His talent is a continual source of joy. To read the newsletters, hear the “new” music, see first-hand the existence of like-minded people, and know his memory has stalwart care
takers … these things are really, really good. As Matthew wrote above, Mr. Becker’s work “makes you want to both be more literate and to share your literary tastes and efforts with ‘those of my kind.’” Sometimes I'll think of him and realize I'm shaking my head, inspired by his talent and saddened by his death.
I’m all for hearing about people’s interactions with Mr. Becker. I’d also be interested in hearing about people’s reactions to his solo work. Anecdotes about touring, his life in Hawaii, song origins, his writing/recording processes. Memorabilia. Interviews with peers and friends. Photos, naturally, and their stories. Poetry (!) and prose. I’d also be keen on meet-ups or events that bring us together.
Last, I’d like to pose a question that’s been on my mind for years and years: Ever any discussions about “11TOW” and “Circus Money” being released on vinyl? That sure would be something, you bet.
That’s it. So much for brevity. I’ll close by restating that all this Walter Becker stuff is really, really good. Oh, and I think I might have found the roll of film with pictures from my interaction with Mr. Becker in the hours before the second night of the “Two Against Nature” tour at Kokusai International Forum Hall in Tokyo. I certainly hope so; we shall see.
Be well and carry the water,
(Spik….pronounced "speak" :-) according to your fine Captions submissions).
This is just a quick response to your very dense post, which couldn’t possibly be unpacked in one sitting. But for sure 1) I want to thank you for finally chiming in! 2) I’ve always liked the idea of people sharing their stories about meeting or running into Walter and it sounds like you have one such …which I would love to hear (and pics with? Yeah!) …3) I’m going to start a location roll-call thread just to see if anybody’s close to anybody else 4) I never heard of of plans to bring either 11TOW or C$ to vinyl 5) I can only repeat how dense your post is, in the best way — as in ‘rich’; in emotion, in perception, in ideas. I hope others come along and “feed” on it, even if just one nibble at a time. I know I will be back to do so. But, just basically, thanks for “going audible”. :-)
Thanks for the reply (!). Thanks also for thanking me for going audible. It takes a lot to motivate me to participate in online stuff.
My Slovenian last name, which translates to "point" (as in apex or sharp end), has been the source of much butchery and comedy. So, I sometimes provide the phonetic in written introductions. Just remember this little jingle my classmate Marc B. tossed off in the third grade: Spik took a leak in a nearby creek. Western Pennsylvania rhyming at its naturalist best.
There's a Mt. Spik in Slovenia. Rising from a conifer forest, it's lovely, comes to a dramatic summit, and is not named after my family's peasant stock.
I did meet and spik with Walter (I'm calling him by his first name now) several times, the most memorable of which was in Tokyo, where I lived for many years. When I heard the 2vN tour was kicking off at the beautiful International Forum Hall, I wrote the Steely Dan website to offer my services as intrepid reporter/reviewer. The powers that be accepted and I reviewed the inaugural gig, a ticket for which I purchased from a Yakuza scalper dressed in D&G. When I submitted my pithy copy the next day--to, if I'm remembering correctly, someone who referred to herself as the Web Drone--I asked if there was a chance of meeting Becker-sama and Fagen-sama before they pulled up stakes and bulleted to Osaka. The answer was "yes," with the further tidbit that Walter had enjoyed my review. I was thrilled to know he had read it, and hoped he had chuckled at my suggestion of marketing a bobblehead figure in his likeness (to emulate his cranial movements on stage, you know).
I was instructed to come to the venue a few hours before showtime and collect a pass and a ticket to that night's performance. I met the Web Drone, and she led me to a room backstage where, if memory serves, Walter was steaming the jacket he'd, um, don that evening. We talked for the better part of an hour.
There's more to the story, but I don't wanna ramble, at least for now. However, your tale of how you and Walter met does beg one question: Were you the Web Drone? That would be wacky.
If the pictures from that night are on that 18.5-year-old 35mm film, I will be sure to share. In the meantime, here's the shikishi that Walter signed. As you can see, Mr. Barney also got a hold of it, though I had hoped to isolate Walter's signature. I guess he didn't want to be jumbled up with the other scoundrels in the band, who after the show kindly signed a second shikishi I had brought along.
@Garrison Spik Hey GRS, what became of your review? did it get put on sd , com somewhere or end up in a mailbag delivery?