It’s Friday the 13th and it seems prudent to be impudent in order to drive off any threat of bad luck.

In related news, it’s also the 72nd anniversary of the launch of the first FM radio station in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

That calls for Steely Dan — a band whose career unfolded during the golden years of FM radio — performing “FM” live.

It’s always said that they don’t write them like this anymore. But this time it’s true. They don’t. And before Steely Dan they didn’t really write them like this at all. This was in its heyday the ultimate geek band: smart, sardonic, exhibitionistically introverted, and really really really seriously good musicians. The kind of highly trained geek musicians where other highly trained but not yet as successful geek musicians would sit and listen for hours to transcribe their instrumental solos. And that would constitute a totally hot Saturday night. Yes, Walter Becker and Donald Fagan are older now — Fagan can’t quite sustain the implied sneer in his vocal delivery with the steady conviction he once could. But this is still Steely Dan. It’s going to be more memorable than just about anything else you’re likely to encounter today.

So with Steely Dan as our talisman, bad luck doesn’t have much of a chance. In fact, as of today, invoking Steely Dan’s singular power, we’re banishing bad luck for a period lasting no fewer than seven years.

I’ll trundle some Frye out later today which will be at least tangentially related to all of this.

And then our victory over bad lack shall be complete.

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4 thoughts on “FM

  1. Jonathan Cox

    From “Bearing in mind the title of the single, AM radio stations naturally wouldn’t play the song, but then in an amazing display of initiative, they took the ‘A’ from ‘Aja’ which was harmonically compatible and edited it into the song so that where ‘FM’ should have been ‘AM’ came out instead.”

    On that same page, you can hear the AM version in RealPlayer format, which has got to be today’s equivalent of AM audio.

  2. Michael Happy Post author

    Oh, dear God, Jonathan, that is an amazing story. I consider myself a big fan, and have been since I was in my teens (trust me, hearing “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” on AM “hit radio” in the 70s was a formative experience), but I’ve never heard a hint of it before. Thanks.

    Damn, now I’ve got “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” loping around in my head. That guitar break at 2.35: I can hear every glorious note and chord of it and summon it up from memory on a surprisingly regular basis.

  3. Michael Happy Post author

    Still with Steely Dan on the brain: here’s a clip in which Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, sitting at a control board in the studio and bringing up tracks as needed, talk about how “Peg” from the album Aja was put together. Of particular interest is knowing that they had eight guitarists come into the studio to record a solo before choosing Jay Graydon’s. Any one of the solos they feature would have been terrific, but you can also hear why Graydon’s was the right choice: it adds grit to an otherwise California-sunshiny song. Also interesting is the way Michael McDonald’s background vocals were put together with harmonies so tight that they sound synthesized. But no, they’re all real, and listening to the individual tracks as they’re laid together is a thrill you can’t buy.


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