Those of us who have been around awhile have seen many musical heroes pass away over the last couple of years, but today’s news of Walter Becker’s death is especially personal to me. Steely Dan was, is, and always will be my number one.
In part that’s because their coming of age between 1972’s Can’t Buy a Thrill and 1980’s Gaucho corresponded to mine, in part that the jazz filling my parent’s home when I was a child set my ear for Becker and Fagen’s complex work, and in part that my guitar hero worship was locked on the incredible solos Steely Dan teased out of guitar icons on every album. Mostly, though, it’s because Becker and Fagen’s perfectly crafted pieces of recorded music never grow old for me no matter how many times I listen to them.
What Walter Becker and Donald Fagen each contributed to Steely Dan’s complex musical compositions, poetic and snarky lyrics, and marathon studio efforts is unknown and likely has no answer. Like Lennon and McCartney, the fusion of Becker’s and Fagen’s talents was complete and their work permanently joins their two names. Condolences, Donald, for losing your longtime friend and collaborator.
Walter, thanks for a soundtrack that’s brought me so much joy for many decades. While I can call to mind pretty much every note of every track you created, I’ll send you off with the Dan’s official greatest hit. No more pristine, perfectly crafted track was ever put on vinyl.