May 28

Don’t Let Us Go Down

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Don’t Let Us Go Down   Walter Becker  © 1991/2018 Zeon LLC  And when I talk to you girl Whatever am I gonna say I already I told myself I’d Never let it be this way The late rays of the sun All but gone and settling slow The evening’s last gasp Drips  down to the courtyard far below The flagstones flicker fade to grey Don’t let us girl go down that way

Ah Mrs. Johnson swore If it was the last thing she ever did The deadbeat on the 2nd floor Would never get her precious angel  Where is that splendid vow today Don’t let our deal go down that way Hey there momma momma See what your beatnik boy has done Righteous  stack of empty pages A pocket full of crumpled ones And all they’d ever hope to say Don’t let us girl go down this way Too many nights too many days For us to just go down this way  Imagination has it’s say Taking you off where it will Thought you’d brush that buzz away Like  a pidgin off the windowsill Embrace the first blow of the day So easy now to go that way Every little fool cracks wise Wants to know what life is this Comes on like a day In June and Winds up like a week in Jersey Settled that we’ve  gone astray Were never meant to go this way Hey there mommy mommy mommy Look what your golden girl has done Shoebox full of empty vessels Pocket full of brand new ones I’m standing here and still I say Don’t let us girl go down that way Got miles to go and hell to payI t hurts like mad and yet I say We’ll curse ourselves and rue the day We let our thing go down this way

May 28Edited: May 28

Walter's notebooks contain, among many other jewels, his "got some things,

need some things" lists; song titles in his stable that were worthy, in his mind,

of further work, perhaps ultimately to appear on an album. The list

was always shifting as new titles appeared and old ones dropped away. This song was on his list early, and for a long time. I'd never heard it before --

didn't know it existed -- until the notebooks sent me looking for it. It comes

from a different side of Walter as a writer, and is one of a group

of songs -- moving, earnest -- I was surprised to find he had written.

I don't mind telling you I ached a little when I first heard it. Still do, a little.

It's got amazing changes.

Not a hint of the smart-ass cynic.

Hell, it's downright poetic -- dare I say...beautiful, even.

And I think its pretty great. But what do you think?

I love the line: "The flagstones flicker, fade to gray..." The alliteration combined with the phrasing just hits me way down.

I had to listen to this one three times in a row to absorb as much of it as I could. It doesn't have the smart-ass cynic touch, as you so eloquently put it D, but this is absolutely Walter all the way. Plus who else would dream up those chord changes?

 

Dan, you're cracking me up :-) We all can always count on you for an early and insightful response to each new cut, but for a few debuts now, I'm having a harder time telling if you actually liked the damn thing or not! It’s like the neighbor who, when asked “so what did you think of our little Janie’s recital?” says things such as “I’ve never heard anything like it!” or “isn’t that just like her?!”

 

Nah, seriously, of course I always know you do admire and appreciate and…(I infer)…like. I’m just sort of laughing at my own responses to your responses. I think “meh” is a completely reasonable judgment to anything here. But I do wonder if we should take the responses of a true connoisseur like yourself to indicate we’re scraping the bottom of some barrel here. Yikes…I guess we’d better move some of the winners in our queue up a few places, eh Matt?

 

PS: Hey Dan…? 😘

Absolutely not scraping the bottom! I love the progression of some of the lines where they remind me (in a good way) of some pretty, romantic popular tunes from the ‘70s. Maybe I’m thinking of Philly soul classics like the Stylistics. Like you say, it’s sincere in a way not normally associated with Walter. But that does surface with him every now and then, like on Upside Looking Down. Gorgeous.

LOL my word choice must have been a little off there, D! I thought this one was REALLY cool. The changes are just different enough from the usual patterns in pop music that it takes a couple listens to really get it to click because it subverts your expectations in JUST the right way. The kind of thing you don't get bored hearing, you know? And I had to listen a few times back to back because I had to spend some of the time just listening to the chords and some of the time just checking out those lyrics and trying to really take them in. That's what I like in a song, something that has enough meat on the bones you can't just take it all in by the first chorus. Oh and PS, little Janie's recital was great! It, um, looked like she had a lot of fun up there. ;)

@Tony Favia Yes I suppose you’re right Tony - but do you think knowing this was written before a song like Upside — which was the occasional earnest song in a sea of cynicism — made it seem more so? I don’t know…even if it’s just a contextual effect, there’s something about the lyrics, or the story, that seem so…young, despite it’s sophistications.

 

Maybe because she has a mother who still imagines she has some control over her daughter, and he’s a “forbidden boarder”…it almost feels like a 50’s era treatment of an O’Neill or Williams. This couple, they’re young, right? And might this be one of their first big, serious things, that was screwed up in all in the ways that were going to repeat themselves, but more and more “dead seriously” each time? Upside and Audrey are sung by a mature man who’d seen more than his share of tragedy. DLUGD feels like perhaps the desperation of seeing one’s first (or early) big “true love” going tragically wrong in one’s first, truly big fuck-ups; an innocent’s cri de cour as he learns just how badly a good thing can go — and in no small measure thanks to his own shortcomings.

 

And of course, I’m not confused into thinking that this is the personality of the writer; the writer was indeed a 40+ yr old Becker…with all that entails. But the voice he was channeling…I dunno. Like I said, I sort of ache for the guy. He’s not gonna know what hit them….until it happens again…and again.

 

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May 28

I heard Grilfriend up the front and then it slowly dissappeared .I waited for Rythm and Melody and it never came which 11 Tracks had done .It felt like pain to me with a dose of unfinished work and it got me thinking abut 11 tracks and how much pain is through that Album but was polished beautifully . If you cant feel or sense or enjoy 11 tracks then you're not in touch for sure to a great Musician .

Is this going to appear on the Downloads page sometime soon?

Jun 1Edited: Jun 1

Yes, soon come. Does that mean you like it? Or do you download

pretty much all of them regardless?

Thanks -D

It is back up on the Downloads page now. Sorry for the inconvenience.

@Matthew Kerns It's listed on the downloads page, but the download link is not working. The target file does not appear to exist on the server. To answer your other question, I do like it! But I also download everything, regardless. :-)

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Love it. So Walter. He remains a big hero to me. Thanks so much for this.

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  • (Surprise Piano Version) This extremely early rundown of Book of Liars by The 11TOW band [Adam Rogers (Guitar): Fima Ephron (Bass): Ben Perowsky (Drums): John Beasley (Keyboards): Dean Parks (Guitar)] is interesting on several counts, not the least of which is the peek it affords into the studio process . Walter enjoyed almost everything the band played as it emerged from their interaction, rather then from any strong a priori “instruction” he offered. The rule seemed to be: Let’s just play it. See what we see. It’s interesting, for example, to hear one of the first rundowns of this tune took on a sort of calypso vibe. Yet all the tracks invariably developed, changed —through a combination of the creativity and explorations of the musicians playing together, and the small, subtle shaping that Walter would occasionally offer. It’s probably too obvious to observe that the feel of the final versions as we all know them from Whack and Alive in America traveled quite a distance from this earliest rundown. The 11TOW recorded version of this song has also long inspired speculation a’plenty about that rather unique keyboard solo. Here, on one of the earliest rundowns — and with only the above musicians in the room — we hear what might be its etiology. The quasi-comic conducting Walter would often exercise is in evidence here — “big piano passage”….then “Piano solo. Surprise piano solo!” (sandwiching an expression of juvenile gun-lust). A playful response follows, and that we hear a “yeah” during the staccato playing leads one to suspect the die on this one was cast early on; there was just something about that general vibe of this early keyboard part that he wanted preserved in the recorded version. We'll leave it to the listener to hypothesize who did or did not play the recorded solo or, at the very least, from whence its inspiration sprang. We see it springing right here. Then there’s “Fima’s got it” as a few players seem to momentarily lose their bearings in the unfamiliar chart….and of course the wonderful end-talk about different ideas for “the bridgy kinda thing”….and, well, from 5:14 out…that’s our Walter all over, isn’t it? Hope you enjoy. D-Mod P.S. Speaking of Book of Liars: Don Breithaupt's band Monkey House released a new album TODAY with their own cover of Becker's Book of Liars! You may know Don from previous Monkey House albums or from his insightful look at Steely Dan's Aja album for the 33-1/3 series. "As a lifelong Steely Dan fan, Walter's death hit me hard," said Don. "I thought it'd be a nice gesture to do one of his." The new album, " Friday ," also features the talents of Steely Dan musicians Michael Leonhart and Drew Zingg. It's a damn fine album, and it looks like listeners agree—" Friday " is currently sitting at the #1 spot on iTunes' Jazz charts. Congrats to Don and Monkey House! - Matt
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