Farewell to Steely Dan

Polished through countless takes,” wrote the New York Times’s Jon Pareles in his weekend obituary of Walter Becker, “Steely Dan’s musical surfaces were sleek and understated, smooth enough to almost be mistaken for easy-listening pop.” Ouch. No one since about 1965 has wanted to take up, or be assigned, residence in the easy-listening bin. And yet Steely Dan, in essence a two-man jazz-rock partnership between Becker and Donald Fagen, filled out with various backing members,...

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