May 29, 2018

Only One Season (2003)


Edited: Sep 18, 2018

movie: matt kerns

My time on Maui impressed me with its relative lack of seasons. Sure, there was a hot season, dog days when the trade winds died, a rainy season... but to a North Easterner like me, such low variation made it easy to lose the sense of time passing. Birthdays were less a discreet bead on an abacus (or a salty pearl) than, well, .... just a little more time passing. I wrote this "birthday haiku" for Walter one year:


“Just one season here!” - 

- tossing back to the water

forty-six salt pearls


Apparently taken by one of the phrases, he repeated it a few times under his breath :

just one season here...interesting...


And what creative, personalized gift would I like for my birthday? We were trying to stop gift-giving entirely so I picked a guaranteed impossibility: write me a song! We both had a good laugh; you just don't give commissions to Walter Becker. I laughed and laughed...


...until some years later, when on one birthday I was presented with a CD, gold bow on top. It's a little late , he said. It was "my" commission. Well knock me over with a guitar pick.


It was a truly precious gift of course, and somehow -- was it the "waltz with a push" maybe? -- a different type of song from his usual. It also typified something you learn spending time with a creative person: for them, the transformation of meaning is endless and effortless: any concept or phrase encountered in one context could and would be transfigured, almost automatically, to several others entirely. When he was repeating the phrase just one season , I reasonably thought he was repeating the words along with their "original" context: the timeless feel of a place without seasons.


Ha. In that moment he was likely running the phrase through some kind of " context thesaurus" where the phrase takes on other this case, the tiresome predictabilty of various interpersonal dramas. I came to think of this as a type of untethered, superflexible three-dimensional engagement with language that "regular" Folk just didn't naturally have without trying for it. His song typifies this notion..


I told him many times it was really good, he really should release it on his website. To this he invariably shrugged... but in that way that meant I wouldn't protest too much if it happened to slip itself online.


Today, though, I hoard his gifts. I once urged him to share it with everyone; now , I don't want to share it with anyone.


But I know how good it is, and how distinctive ...and I believe he did too. Now that I feel among friends here at at wbmedia, friends who hold WB's talent in esteem and his memory with affection, I'm happy to present you, fellow WB freaks, the World Premiere of Walter Becker's Only One Season

May 29, 2018Edited: May 30, 2018


© Zeon LLC 2017


The old friends and the family

Rumbling in the alley

Somehow you don’t care anymore

The guts and the glory

The old hard luck story

Heard it all before

The bad breaks and the heartaches

You give ‘em , you get ‘em

Make all the same mistakes

That’s cool, you let ‘em

No use trying to please them dear

There’s only one season here


You cut loose of the whole deal

You jump on in your bad wheels

There’s just not a whole lot more to know

You drop down into first gear

You start out from right here

And point it where you want to go

The rain falls and the wind blows,

That’s how they rig it

It’s all part of the floor show

Sit back and dig it

You don’t need a reason dear

Only one season here


Now we all had some good fun

But this one here’s a re-run

Generally it’s more sad than true

The bad guys and the black hats

We’ve been there and done that,

Now I’m gonna do something new

The good luck and the big bucks

You get ‘em when you need ‘em

It’s up there in the headlines

It ain’t hard to read ‘em

Ringing out loud and clear

Just the one season here


Ringing out loud and clear

Just the one season here


No use trying to please them dear

Just the one season here.


Vocals & Opcode: Walter Becker

Vocal recording and engineering: Dave Russell .

May 29, 2018

Here I am, sitting around at 3am when I get an email from the WB website. Weird on all accounts, had to check it out.


Glad I opened it and found this song, and this new site.


Thanks for sharing, it means a lot.

May 29, 2018

Great to hear Walter's voice again.

May 29, 2018

Wow! What a compliment D-Mod! That’s truly one of a kind and a great tune. Thank you for sharing something so personal with us.

May 29, 2018

Schweeeeet!! What more can one say?! This is great. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal and wonderful tune with the world. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

May 29, 2018

I love everything about this, the story, the poem, the song, the lyrics, and the idea of a "context thesaurus." (Where can I get one of those?)

May 29, 2018

Thanks for sharing mod. Amazing stuff. The song is pretty good too. :-)

May 29, 2018

Thanks for sharing this great music and the great personal sentiment that it came with! This place makes me feel like I understand the man, the nonpareil - Walter Becker - even better.

May 29, 2018

I love the vibe of the tune, jazzy and smooth. It has a big touch of 'Nightfly', showing how likeminded Walter and Donald where. Thanks for sharing this very personal gift from Walter to you!

May 30, 2018Edited: May 31, 2018

Beautiful and personal, thanks for releasing and sharing this!

Initially I felt kind of a 'Take 5' vibe, but of course it's very Walter.

It's also indicative of how a creative mind appreciates the islands.


May 30, 2018

Thanks very much for this, & for all the HTML-architecture around it. A beautiful song; a great, moving, & funny story. Am I wrong to think that that very quick initial drone-shot, those two chairs, that green lawn, might be somewhere on the coast near P___, on the north shore, where Sayan laid part of Walter to rest? If so, thanks for including it. It's a good view, something a gentleman avocado farmer would have rightfully been proud of.

May 30, 2018Edited: May 30, 2018

cjbrayshaw: the chairs in the video are like a namecheck; the actual scene is this --at the edge of the lawn, there's a 15' drop to a rocky coast. Down some rock stairs and a few steps away is a little bay with enough sand to get into the water without getting all cut up. The picture was taken during low tide. Fantastic view with lots of action in the water (huge turtles--they all had the name Big Head Todd the Turtle God: wave-riding fish: tidepool denizens: spinner dolphins — and in season, farther out past the second break, momma humpbacks with new baby, slapping and breaching). We used to call it Channel 1. "Hey you want to watch Channel 1 for a while?".


May 30, 2018Edited: May 30, 2018

Aw thanks DB. That view means a lot to me. My partner & I went to P___ in 2012 & poked around for a few days in between other, more casual island pursuits (swimming; walking; making art-photographs; meeting mongeese & wild chickens) & met some folks who, upon realizing we were a/ Canadian, and, b/ shy, and, c/ not demanding or otherwise intrusive on artists' personal privacy, kindly shared some memories & other details with us. The closest we ever got to Channel One was the H__'___a overlook at dusk before our Mama's reservation, the dull thump of breakers audible all the way up the cliff, a few brave surfers out there in the dark blue April water. It was totally worth the bumpy 5+ hours in the air to & from Vancouver. Thanks again for that view, & all that you do here.

May 30, 2018Edited: May 30, 2018

a new favorite - this one has the goods, a few strong muscles sprung into lyric endoskeleton. the hook for me is from the high tradition of pantonal blues - at the IV of the verse the bass goes V, so the 2 of the chord and WB magic is made. Walking back down through the strange mode, back to one, pedal under a sweet melody and shimmering lyric "...only one season...". Is it major? minor? both? neither? exquisite!

May 30, 2018

Awseome, unbeleivably personal and just untouchable. Thx for sharing YOUR song

May 30, 2018

I knew it, I just knew it!! My Wife and I enjoyed our Honeymoon on Maui in 2002, we did only special things. Having no idea, thoughts, or concern for who lived there or where they might live while driving on that beautiful Highway, I was struck, blind out of nowhere, I looked to the side and I just knew it!! This is where he was, still don't know about that Karma or how things like that happen to minds, I JUST KNEW IT!!!! "HE" lived here. I'm geting chills.

May 30, 2018

Rob - thanks for your post. I myself am ignorant of the sort of music theory that would allow me to deconstruct a song like this -- I just know it has that Becker scale (pantonal you say?) and "sounds" like him -- even with all it's different features. I a;ways hoped that discussion about our posts would include music nerds :-) and others who could have fun pointing out things to the rest of us and talking amongst themselves any other scale-sleuths out there please join in! And Rob, if you're part of another community that might enjoy this sort of thing, bring em on over! ...This sort of discussion is part of Walter's legacy as well, and I'd love for it to be part of our site.


To everyone else, your responses are lovely, and I thank you for your insight and delicacy. I was sort of a wreck the last couple of days...but now, I'm very glad I shared it.

May 30, 2018Edited: May 31, 2018

See! That's just the crowd-source knowledge I hoped for! Right you are, Rob, thanks. I'm changing the credit now... btw, the article rob cites above is a good one for those interested in stages of Circus Money.



New Posts
  • (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
  • 1997 He Wants You (Out) words & music Walter Becker (1997) © Zeon Music LLC 2018 Well we all ride together in this world Fall together where we stand And we all got one slim chance to be heard It's all written in the plan This is all I ask of you Tell me sweetness tell me true From that very first soul kiss You knew it would be like this We all ride together in this world Well didn't we just girl He reads you — he reads you loud and clear He wants you — he wants you out of here He needs you — you and what army dear He wants you — he wants you out of here Well we all need protection from the pain For protection we will pay And we all seek the shelter from the rain Here comes that rainy day It won't make it real again Not all the horses all the men It won't do you any good Not all the pills in Hollywood We all need protection now and then Here it is again He loves you —he loves your story dear He wants you — he wants you out of here He sees you — he sees you disappear He wants you — he wants you out of here Well we all ride together in this world Wait forever on the curb And we all ask for much more than we need And we get what we deserve He hears you — he's seeming not to hear He wants you — he wants you out of here He's got you — he's had you up to here He wants you — he wants you out of here He needs you — you and what army dear He wants you — he wants you out of here He reads you — he reads you loud and clear He wants you — he wants you out of here Another one of Becker's infamous "Love Songs"! Anyone woman at all familiar with his Whack work and demos would think long and hard before sweetly trilling "write me a love song, dahling!" -- knowing she was as likely to get one of these than an Almost Gothic  or a  Paging Audrey . That musical bouquet of his was always as likely to conceal a shiv than sweet-nothings. This tune was one of three demos Walter sent me on a DAT in late 1997  (ever-thoughtful, he bundled it with a portable "Walkman"-type DAT player. Sort of like Voyager. I was impressed). I asked him: "so these are rejects from Whack ?" to which he replied nah,  just a few things he'd been working on lately. By this time he was  deep into writing for Two Against Nature  with Fagen, so it took me a couple of beats to realize that after his Whack  work, he and his Opcode had apparently just kept on trucking along.  He must have liked this one, must have been keeping it on his "potentially active" list, since he was still occasionally listening to it few years later... he was one afternoon in late '99 .... PS: His vocals on these three '97 demos were uncommonly lackluster, to put it kindly.  One of them, in fact -- a tune called The Love You Ax -- will remain forever sealed, falling into the rare category of the demo vocal  he would never allow out of the box. It's a nice tune though; perhaps one day 'll post an instrumental of its solo and outro, for a sense of its feel. I just have to guess first  if that would make more of you pissed or pleased.