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The Steely Dan Dictionary


2014: Update coming soon!

Just because Becker & Fagen haven't gone back to the studio together doesn't mean the rest of the universe grinds to a halt! Coming later in 2014, I will be updating this site, with new entries from Fagen's Sunken Condos plus a smattering of other updates & new entries from the "classic" Dan canon. Watch this space!

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5 March 2011: Site Updated!

It's taken a while (4½ years to be exact) but I've finally made an update to the site, including lyrics from Walter Becker's last solo effort Circus Money:

Thanks to those who've written to me over the last few years with input & suggestions. Keep the feedback coming, folks — even without a new Dan album on the horizon, there's still plenty of uncracked code remaining in the Steely Dan lexicon!







Hello and welcome to the Steely Dan Dictionary!

Donald Fagen & Walter Becker


Ever wondered what a bodhisattva is? Or how to gaslight somebody? Then this site is for you! You're looking at an A-Z glossary of over 100 obscure words, people and places — all taken from the lyrics of Steely Dan songs.

The creative genii behind Steely Dan (Walter Becker and Donald Fagen) have long been fond of peppering their lyrics with arcane literary and cultural references, the meaning of which can be murky at best (given the duo's legendary reticence). After searching in vain for an explanatory lexicon, I decided to create my own.

Note that this is a dictionary of real-life people and places only. Becker and Fagen also concoct fictional names, objects and locales for many of their songs (Hoops McCann, battle apple and Steamer Heaven to name but three), and because of their imaginary nature, it's impossible to pin down an exact definition, so I have deliberately excluded them from this site. (The one exception is Custerdome since despite being fictional, Becker & Fagen have provided a clear and unambiguous definition — plus, I was sick of people asking me what it meant!)

It may also be obvious that site is mainly for the benefit of non-Americans — I'm sure most Yanks would know where TJ is and what IHOP does, but for myself (an Irishman) and for the rest of the world, it's not quite so intuitive. Though even if you were born and bred in the USA, you might be able to learn a thing or two here — how many Americans know where Lhasa is, or how to mix a zombie?

I welcome all feedback about this site — feel free to email me with any comments, suggestions or corrections. Enjoy!

Dan O'Malley Email address hidden to deter spammers





'54 Strat

"The good copper pans / The '54 Strat / These are the things I miss the most"
Song: Things I Miss The Most    Album: Everything Must Go 
The Fender Stratocaster, arguably the world's most famous type of electric guitar. Launched in 1954 by Californian inventer Leo Fender (following his earlier electric guitars, the Broadcaster and Telecaster), the Strat quickly became a huge success and over the years it has remained a favourite of guitar gods everywhere, from Buddy Holly to Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton. The Strat is still being manufactured today, but for true guitar buffs, an original 1954 model is the one to own.

Link: Inside a '54 Strat


A-Frame

"Every A-Frame had your number on the wall / You must have had it all"
Song: Kid Charlemagne    Album: The Royal Scam 
An A-shaped house or building, typically having triangular front and rear walls and a roof reaching to the ground.

Link: A-Frame Rental


Altamira

(No lyric - appears only in song title)
Song: The Caves Of Altamira    Album: The Royal Scam 
A set of prehistoric cave paintings, near the medieval village of Santillana del Mar in northern Spain. Discovered in 1869, the scenes of bison and deer have been described as "the Sistine Chapel of Palaeolithic art".

Link: The Altamira cave paintings


Ambush

"She's wearing Ambush and a French twist / She's got us wild and she can tell"
Song: New Frontier    Album: The Nightfly 
A brand of women's perfume. Launched by the French perfume company Dana in 1955, Ambush is a sharp, oriental, woody fragrance with a blend of lavender, jasmine, oakmoss, sandalwood and patchouli. Still available, though the formulation has apparently changed in recent years.


amen corner

"I'll just have to make it work somehow / I'm in the amen corner now"
Song: Almost Gothic    Album: Two Against Nature 
Part of a church occupied by fervent worshippers. More specifically, in Protestant churches, also refers to a place (usually at one side of the pulpit) occupied by those leading the responsive "amens" of the congregation. Also the nickname for a section of the Augusta National Golf Course (home of the Masters tournament) which contains the 12th tee — rated by many players as the toughest hole in golf.

Link: The Origin of Amen Corner


Andrea Doria

"So far so good / I'm building the Andrea Doria out of balsa wood"
Song: Things I Miss The Most    Album: Everything Must Go 
Italian luxury ocean liner which collided with the MV Stockholm near Nantucket, Massachusetts on 25 July 1956, with the loss of 51 lives. Named after Andrea Doria, a 15th century Italian sailor, navigator and compatriot of Columbus who is credited as the first man to discover how to sail against the wind.

Link: AndreaDoria.org


Annandale

"California / Tumbles into the sea / That'll be the day I go / Back to Annandale"
Song: My Old School    Album: Countdown to Ecstasy 
Annandale-on-Hudson, a small town in upstate New York, about 100 miles north of New York City, not far from Woodstock. Location of Bard College, where Donald Fagen & Walter Becker both attended college (and where they first met).

Link: Bard College


Arcturus

"We come in on the morning scan / All the way from far Arcturus"
Song: Hat Too Flat    Album: 11 Tracks of Whack 
A star in the constellation of Boötes (The Herdsman). Arcturus is 37 light years from Earth, has a diameter 25 times that of our sun, is 70 times more luminous and is the 4th brightest star in the sky.

Link: SouledOut.org: The cosmology of Arcturus


Aries

"Your beloved white Aries / Is fair game for the vandals up on Makapuu Street"
Song: Surf And/Or Die    Album: 11 Tracks of Whack 
The Dodge Aries, a cheap, reliable family car produced by Chrysler from 1981 to 1989. Known to enthusiasts as "K-cars", along with the Plymouth Reliant and the Chrysler LeBaron, which all shared the same basic architecture.


Arlen

"To make you feel all warm and cozy / Like you heard a good joke / Like you heard an Arlen tune"
Song: Morph the Cat    Album: Morph The Cat 
Harold Arlen (1905-1986), considered one of the greatest composers of 20th century popular music. Born Hyman Arluck in Buffalo, New York, he composed over 400 songs during a lengthy career, including such standards as "Stormy Weather", "Let's Fall in Love", and his most well-known song, "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz, which earned him an Oscar for Best Song in 1939.

Link: Official Harold Arlen site


automat

"He's all the talk in shops and schoolyards / Sutton Place / The automat"
Song: Morph the Cat    Album: Morph The Cat 
Type of self-service restaurant where customers purchase food via coin-operated vending machines. Once hugely popular in New York, the rise of fast food outlets led to their complete disappearance by the 1990s — however, they remain popular in the Netherlands, where they are called automatiek. Both the English and Dutch names obviously come from the same root as "automatic", namely the Greek word automatos ("self-acting") referring to the self-service nature of the restaurant.

Link: The History, Recipes, and Allure of the Automat


baion

"The Siegel Bros. were slammin' out a baion / So slick it should have been a crime"
Song: Teahouse On The Tracks    Album: Kamakiriad 
A type of samba rhythm, originating in Brazil. Its distinctive pattern consists of two long notes separated by one of short duration (i.e. long-short-long). Sometime around the late 1950s, the baion rhythm was borrowed by American music and became one of the most basic rhythmic patterns in pop music. Two well-known songs that have a baion-esque beat are Be My Baby by the Ronettes and It's Not Unusual by Tom Jones.


banyan

"Chinese music under banyan trees / Here at the dude ranch above the sea"
Song: Aja    Album: Aja 
A type of tropical fig tree. The term "Banyan" includes many subspecies such as Indian Banyans, Chinese Banyans, Sacred Figs, and the sinister-sounding Florida Strangler Fig! In all cases, the banyan's distinguishing feature is its branches, which send out shoots that grow down to the soil to form secondary trunks. Of historical interest is the fact that Siddhartha (the young Buddha) was apparently sitting under a banyan tree when he received enlightenment. The specific tree in question is known as the Bodhi tree — sharing the same root (no pun intended) as the word bodhisattva.

Link: Wikipedia: Bodhi tree


barrio

"Lost in the barrio / I walk like an injun"
Song: Throw Back The Little Ones    Album: Katy Lied 
A Spanish-speaking quarter or neighbourhood. Barrios are especially common in the Southwestern U.S., but the largest and most well-known is in East Harlem, New York City. "Barrio" literally means "neighbourhood" in Spanish.

Link: El Museo del Barrio


Barrytown

"I can see by what you carry / That you come from Barrytown"
Song: Barrytown    Album: Pretzel Logic 
A town in upstate New York, close to Annandale-on-Hudson and Bard College (Becker & Fagen's alma mater). Its biggest claim to fame would be as the headquarters of The Unification Church, a.k.a. "The Moonies", a religious cult who gained notoriety in the 70s from reports of its mass weddings & alleged brainwashing of members. As a fundraising measure, followers would often stand at street corners, carrying small bouquets of flowers for sale (hence the lyric).

Link: Unification Church home page


black cow

"Drink your big black cow / And get out of here"
Song: Black Cow    Album: Aja 
A type of soda. Depending on who you ask, a true black cow consists of either Coke or root beer mixed with either milk or ice cream (with optional chocolate sauce). There's even an alcoholic version, containing Grand Marnier and cold coffee.

Link: eHow.com: How to Make a Black Cow


Blazer

"We'll take Big Red / The Blazer / it's nice inside"
Song: Janie Runaway    Album: Two Against Nature 
The original "sports utility vehicle" (SUV). Introduced by Chevrolet in 1969, the two-door, four-wheel-drive Blazer took the car industry by storm and quickly caught on with drivers who would normally never consider off-road driving, leading to the huge popularity of SUVs today — beloved of "soccer moms" and loathed by environmentalists for their inefficient fuel consumption.

Link: Chevrolet Blazer history


Bleecker Street

"Little Eva meets the Bleecker Street brat"
Song: Almost Gothic    Album: Two Against Nature 
A street in New York City, which runs roughly east-west through the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan. Bleecker Street is best known for being the home of "Beat" poetry and a breeding ground for acoustic singer-songwriters back in the 1960s.

Link: Great Public Spaces


bodhisattva

"Bodhisattva / Would you take me by the hand"
Song: Bodhisattva    Album: Countdown to Ecstasy 
In Buddhism, a being who compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in order to save others and lead them to enlightenment. Bodhisattvas are themselves worshipped as deities in Mahayana Buddhism.

Link: What is Bodhisattva?


Brubeck

"I hear you're mad about Brubeck / I like your eyes, I like him too"
Song: New Frontier    Album: The Nightfly 
Dave Brubeck, legendary jazz pianist, born in Concord, California on 6 December 1920. His band, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, had a laid-back (yet experimental) style epitomised by the million-selling Take Five, found on their 1959 album Time Out.

Link: Official Dave Brubeck site


Brut

"Brut and charisma / Poured from the shadow where he stood"
Song: Glamour Profession    Album: Gaucho 
A well-known brand of men's cologne. Introduced in 1964 by the Fabergé company of Paris, Brut's distinctively strong ambery fragrance is classed as a fougère, though some would have a less polite term for it...

Link: Basenotes.net: About Brut


Camarillo

"You'll be grooving high or relaxing at Camarillo"
Song: Parker's Band    Album: Pretzel Logic 
A city in California, located roughly 40 miles north-west of Los Angeles with a population of 61,533. Relaxing at Camarillo is a jazz tune by Charlie Parker, written in 1947 after he spent 6 months in the Camarillo State Mental Hospital recovering from a nervous breakdown. Trivia fact: Groovin' High (also mentioned in the lyrics) is another jazz tune, written by Dizzy Gillespie and regularly performed by Parker.

Link: City of Camarillo Web Site


capris

"She turned my life into a living hell / In those little tops and tight capris"
Song: Cousin Dupree    Album: Two Against Nature 
A style of trousers mostly worn by women. Capris (also known as "pedal pushers" or "clam diggers") originated in the 1950s, but have come back into fashion in recent years. They are usually slim-fitting and are either knee-length, lower-calf-length, or somewhere in between. Named after the Italian island of Capri, where they first enjoyed popularity.

Link: Wikipedia: Capri pants


catbird seat

"Goodbye to Lonely Street / You're in the catbird seat / At the Steely Dan Show"
Song: The Steely Dan Show  (unreleased song) 
To be "sitting in the catbird seat" means to be in a position of great prominence or advantage. Catbirds (scientific name dumetella carolinensis) are dark grey in colour, native to the southern U.S. and are closely related to the mockingbird. Named after the cat-like "mewing" sound they make, they are aggressively territorial birds, always seeking the highest perches in trees, hence the origin of the phrase.


Cathy Berberian

"Even Cathy Berberian knows / There's one roulade she can't sing"
Song: Your Gold Teeth    Album: Countdown to Ecstasy 
American opera singer and avant-garde vocalist, born 4 July 1925, died 1983. Renowned for her chameleonic vocal style — typified by her rendition of Luciano Berio's Visage (1961), an improvisational piece consisting of sighing, crying, laughing, moaning, groaning and stammering!

Link: Cathy Berberian Does The Beatles


chasing the dragon

"Tonight when I chase the dragon / The water will change to cherry wine / And the silver will turn to gold"
Song: Time Out Of Mind    Album: Gaucho 
Slang term for a way of smoking heroin, which usually involves placing powdered heroin on foil and heating it from below with a lighter. The heroin turns to a sticky liquid and wriggles around like a Chinese dragon, hence the name. Fumes are given off and are inhaled, sometimes thorough a rolled up newspaper, magazine or tube.

Link: St. Petersburg Times: Chasing the heroin dragon


cheaters

"Take off your cheaters and sit right down / Start the projection machine"
Song: Everyone's Gone To The Movies    Album: Katy Lied 
Slang term for sunglasses or reading glasses. Alternatively, "cheaters" can refer to glasses prescribed specifically with a particular activity in mind, such as shooting or flying.


Chesterfield Kings

"I've got plenty of java / And Chesterfield Kings / But I feel like crying"
Song: The Nightfly    Album: The Nightfly 
A brand of non-filtered American cigarettes, made by Philip Morris (one of the infamous "Big Tobacco" companies). Trivia fact: listed among the ingredients are "Cocoa & Cocoa products" and "Licorice Extract"!

Link: Chesterfield: The best cigarette for YOU to smoke


city of St. John

"And they wandered in / From the city of St. John / Without a dime"
Song: The Royal Scam    Album: The Royal Scam 
San Juan, the capital city of Caribbean island Puerto Rico. Named after (Saint) John the Baptist, who also serves as the patron saint of Puerto Rico itself. This lyric sets the stage for the rest of the song, which portrays the plight of Puerto Rican immigrants after arriving in New York City. Trivia fact: originally San Juan was called Puerto Rico ("Rich Port") and the island was called San Juan, but later the names were swapped. (It's just as well: the lyric "And they wandered in from the city of Rich Port" doesn't sound nearly as good!)


corncrib

"Steady girl let me grab on your wig hat / Down in the corncrib we shall go"
Song: Selfish Gene    Album: Circus Money 
A corncrib (also called a cornhouse) is a type of granary or storehouse used for drying and storing corn. Typically made of wood, corncribs have slatted walls to allow the corn to dry after harvest. To keep out rodents and other pests, the floor is usually elevated off the ground. Corncribs were first used by Native Americans and were quickly adopted by European settlers when they arrived in the New World. Similar structures (though for storing grain rather than corn) have been in use in Europe for centuries, dating back to the horreum of the Ancient Romans.


Crimson Tide

"They call Alabama the Crimson Tide / Call me Deacon Blues"
Song: Deacon Blues    Album: Aja 
The nickname for the University of Alabama's sporting teams (particularly American football), so called because of their distinctive dark red jerseys. Trivia fact: The name of the submarine in the 1995 movie Crimson Tide was the "U.S.S. Alabama".

Link: Crimson Tide Online


Cuervo Gold

"The Cuervo Gold / The fine Colombian / Make tonight a wonderful thing"
Song: Hey Nineteen    Album: Gaucho 
A brand of Mexican tequila (officially called "Jose Cuervo Especial") with a smooth, slightly sweet taste. One of the best-selling tequila brands worldwide, but (as is often the way with these things) NOT a preferred choice of tequila connoisseurs. The manufacturers claim that "its distinctive amber hue comes from being matured in oak casks for two months or more". But apparently the "gold" is just food colouring!

Link: Cuervo Online


Culver City

"From the Rebus affair / To the streets of Culver City"
Song: West Of Hollywood    Album: Two Against Nature 
A town in California, south-west of Hollywood, population 40,000. Probably most notable as being the original location of MGM Studios & hence was where classics like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind were filmed. Also the final resting place of many Hollywood legends such as Charles Boyer (star of Gaslight), Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Bela Lugosi and, er, John Candy.

Link: Culver City Online


Custerdome

"Bodacious cowboys / Such as your friend / Will never be welcome here / High in the Custerdome"
Song: Gaucho    Album: Gaucho 
A fictional skyscraper containing the luxury apartment where the song's plot unfolds. Editor's note: I decided to make an exception to my usual "no fictional words" rule and include this in the dictionary for two reasons: A) It's the word I get asked about most frequently by site visitors; and B) Temporarily abandoning their reticence to discuss lyric interpretations, Becker and Fagen kindly explained its exact meaning during an interview: "It exists only in our collective imagination. In the Steely Dan lexicon it serves as an archetype of a building that houses great corporations..."


cutouts

"I was grinding through my day gig / Stackin' cutouts at the Strand"
Song: What A Shame About Me    Album: Two Against Nature 
Books (also records or CDs) sold at heavily discounted prices, signified by a hole or notch punched into the cover. This is done by publishers when clearing out large amounts of unwanted stock — the hole prevents bookshops returning unsold items to the publisher for full-price credit.


Dean and DeLuca

"Let's grab some takeout / From Dean and DeLuca / A hearty gulping wine"
Song: Janie Runaway    Album: Two Against Nature 
A chain of gourmet grocery store and cafés originally based in the SoHo district of New York City. Now part of a chain of stores across the US, including Washington DC and Kansas City. There are even overseas branches in Dubai, Kuwait, Taiwan and Japan (including one in Roppongi — I wonder if Pixeleen eats there?)

Link: Dean and DeLuca Online


derby hat

"There on your nightstand much worse than that / Panatela and old black derby hat"
Song: Two Against Nature    Album: Two Against Nature 
A derby is a style of gentleman's hat, made from stiff felt and oval-shaped with a dome-shaped crown and a narrow, curved brim. Originated in England in the 1780s (where it's known as a "bowler hat") but made popular by the Earl of Derby during a visit to the US in the 1880s (hence the name), where it remained in fashion until the 1930s. The lyric supposedly refers to hat-wearing cigar-smoking voodoo deity Baron Samedi — see panatela.

Link: Wooden Hats


Doctor Wu

"Are you with me Doctor Wu / Are you really just a shadow / Of the man that I once knew"
Song: Doctor Wu    Album: Katy Lied 
Doctor Jing Nuan Wu (1933-2002), an acupuncturist and artist based in Washington DC. Emigrated from China to the US at a young age and graduated from Harvard to become a Wall Street venture capitalist, finally setting up a Taoist clinic in Washington in 1973. Apparently helped one of the band to overcome drug addiction in the mid-70s, hence the lyrical tribute.

Link: Dr. Wu's Healing Art


Eames chair

"The comfy Eames chair / The good copper pans"
Song: Things I Miss The Most    Album: Everything Must Go 
The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, a style of reclining armchair dating from the mid-50s and acknowledged as a design classic (an Eames chair is included in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art). Husband-and-wife design team Charles and Ray Eames were also noted for their contributions to architecture, industrial design and photography — they made the well-known short film Powers of Ten in 1977.

Link: Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman


Eldorado

"Daddy don't drive in that Eldorado no more"
Song: Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More    Album: Katy Lied 
The Cadillac Eldorado, a luxury car first introduced in 1953 and finally phased out in mid-2002. Embodies the stereotype of American cars as huge, gas-guzzling monsters: the 1970s convertible Eldorado was almost 19 feet long with a whopping 8.2 litre engine! Also considered to be the archetypal 'pimp' car.

Link: Eldorado: The Crown Jewel


Erzulie

"Madame Erzulie / She come last night / Bang you silly / But leave a nasty bite"
Song: Two Against Nature    Album: Two Against Nature 
Voodoo loa (i.e. spirit or goddess) of love and beauty. Characterised by her sensuality, wealth, love of finery, and of sweet food. She's the loa to call upon if you want to bewitch someone into loving you. (She has 3 husbands, so obviously it works!)

Link: Miss Kitty's Voodoo Art


fez

"Don't make me do it without the fez on / Oh no"
Song: The Fez    Album: The Royal Scam 
A type of brimless hat, usually made from red felt with a tassel on top. Worn by men in the Middle East, or in the US by Shriners (a fraternal lodge organisation) during festivities. Islamic in origin, the hat is named after the holy city of Fez, Morocco. In an uncharacteristic bout of transparency, Becker and Fagen have admitted that "fez" in the context of the song is intended as a slang term for "condom" (and it's not too hard to imagine why).

Link: Fez: The lounge-xotic surf sensation!


French twist

"She's wearing Ambush and a French twist / She's got us wild and she can tell"
Song: New Frontier    Album: The Nightfly 
A type of women's hairstyle, in which long hair is tied upwards and fastened in place at the back or top of the head, usually with bobby pins, a hair clip or even "hair sticks". Considered an elegant yet practical hairdo, suitable for work or special occasions such as weddings, cocktail parties or just a night on the town.

Link: HairBoutique.com: How to make a French twist


gaslighting

"Flame is the game / The game we call gaslighting Abbie"
Song: Gaslighting Abbie    Album: Two Against Nature 
Attempting to undermine someone's sanity. From the 1938 British play Gaslight, where a man tries to steal his wife's inheritance by slowly driving her insane (a dimmed gas-powered light forms a pivotal plot point). Twice turned into a movie: the more well-known 1944 version starred Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Angela Lansbury (in her film debut).

Link: Internet Movie Database


gaucho

"Who is the gaucho, amigo / Why is he standing / In your spangled leather poncho"
Song: Gaucho    Album: Gaucho 
A South American cowboy. Originating from the pampas in Argentina, gauchos were familiar figures in the 18th/19th centuries, and typically were daring and skillful horsemen and plainsmen. Immortalised on film thanks to the 1927 Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckling epic The Gaucho.

Link: Gauchos: The wanderers of the pampas


Gladstone bag

"Smashed in the yellow Jag / I've got my life and laundry in a Gladstone bag"
Song: The Second Arrangement  (unreleased song) 
A large travelling bag made out of stiff leather with a hinged opening on top. So called because they were the favoured hand-luggage of 19th century British Prime Minister William Gladstone (1809-1898).


Gramercy Park

"The future looked desperate and dark / Now you're the wonderwaif of Gramercy Park"
Song: Janie Runaway    Album: Two Against Nature 
New York City's only private park, located in Manhattan on East 20th Street, between Third Avenue and Park Avenue South. Accessible only to people who live in the neighbourhood and who are given keys, a tradition dating back to when the area was developed in 1831.

Link: Amazon.com: Murder on Gramercy Park - A Gaslight Mystery


grok

"Two against nature don't you know / Who's gonna grok the shape of things to go"
Song: Two Against Nature    Album: Two Against Nature 
A slang term used by computer hackers, meaning to understand or comprehend. The term originated in the Robert Heinlein sci-fi novel Stranger In a Strange Land, and implies intimate and exhaustive knowledge. You grok?

Link: The Jargon Lexicon


Guadalajara

"I'm gonna take her down to Mexico / She said oh no / Guadalajara won't do"
Song: My Old School    Album: Countdown to Ecstasy 
2nd largest city in Mexico, population 3.5 million. Known as "The Pearl of the West", its most famous landmark is the 16th century cathedral, rebuilt after several earthquakes and hence a unique architectural medley of Gothic, Baroque, Arabic and Greek.

Link: All About Guadalajara


Hackensack

"Driving like a fool out to Hackensack / Drinking his dinner from a paper sack"
Song: Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More    Album: Katy Lied 
A city in New Jersey, about 10 miles north of New York City, population 42,000. (Also a small town in Minnesota.) Used to be thought of as the "Hell's Kitchen" of New Jersey, but since gentrified. Not particularly famous for anything, but everyone knows it's there. Also namechecked in the Billy Joel song Moving Out: "Who needs a house out in Hackensack? Is that all you get for your money?"

Link: Hackensack: A City in Motion


Hello Kitty

"There's a Cobra Gunship for his golden boy / And a Hello Kitty for his pride and joy"
Song: Book Of Liars    Album: 11 Tracks of Whack 
Japanese cartoon character. Created by Sanrio Corporation in 1974, this friendly feline appears on a wide range of merchandise, including lunchboxes, pencils, stickers, clothing and even a Hello Kitty car!

Link: HelloKitty.com


I.G.Y.

(No lyric - appears only in song title)
Song: I.G.Y.    Album: The Nightfly 
The International Geophysical Year (IGY) was an international scientific effort which lasted from July 1957 to December 1958. 67 countries participated in total, performing experiments and research projects across 11 different Earth sciences such as meteorology, oceanography, seismology and geomagnetism; the most famous project was the launch of Sputnik 1, the world's first man-made satellite. The IGY has been described as "the beginning of a new era of scientific discovery at a time when many innovative technologies were appearing", which certainly fits the song's theme of optimism about the future.

Link: NationalAcademies.org: The International Geophysical Year


IHOP

"Straight to IHOP / Where it's well-known / The world's junkest pancakes are"
Song: Little Kawai    Album: 11 Tracks of Whack 
International House of Pancakes, a chain of family restaurants with over 900 locations across the United States, Canada and Japan. The menu, not surprisingly, consists mainly of pancakes, but also includes waffles, omelettes and burgers.

Link: IHOP.com


ikat

"Just picked up your message / 'Bout those Balinese ikats you thought I might buy"
Song: Surf And/Or Die    Album: 11 Tracks of Whack 
A type of woven fabric in which sections of either the warp or weft threads (and sometimes both) have been tie-dyed to make specific patterns. The term "ikat" comes from an Indonesian word meaning to tie or bind.


inside straight

"About my age my height and weight / What is the payout on an inside straight?"
Song: Door Number Two    Album: Circus Money 
A hand in poker, also known as a "belly buster" or "gut shot". An inside straight is a hand with four of the five cards needed for a straight, but missing one in the middle. For example, 9-7-6-5 (in this case an 8 is missing). Because a card is missing, an inside straight by itself is worthless — no doubt the irony of this was Walter Becker's intention when penning the lyric.


Jackson

"Lay down your Jackson and you will see / The sweetness you've been cryin' for"
Song: Here At The Western World    Album: Steely Dan Gold 
Slang term for an American 20-dollar bill, so called because of the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the front. Jackson was the 7th President of the United States (1829-1837), and the first to be the target of an (unsuccessful) assassination attempt.

Link: The $20 bill


Jane Street

"I'm thinking of a major Jane Street sunrise / And the goddess on the fire escape was you"
Song: What A Shame About Me    Album: Two Against Nature 
A street in New York City, located in the West Village area of Manhattan, close to New York University. The street isn't particularly noteworthy for anything, apart from being a popular location for students due to its its proximity to NYU. In fact, anyone standing on a fire escape in Jane Street and looking towards the sunrise would be facing the NYU campus.

Link: Amazon.com: Christmas on Jane Street: A True Story


Jill St. John

"The new cashier looks like Jill St. John / Can that be right?"
Song: Green Book    Album: Everything Must Go 
American actress, born Jill Oppenheim in Los Angeles in 1940. Her best-known role was probably feisty jewel smuggler Tiffany Case in the 1971 James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever. Currently married to Hart To Hart star Robert Wagner and has retired from acting to focus on a new career as a TV chef.

Link: GlamourSplash.com: Vintage swimsuit photos


Jungle Jim

"Crashing the backboard / He's Jungle Jim again"
Song: Glamour Profession    Album: Gaucho 
Nickname of Jim Loscutoff, a basketball player for the Boston Celtics. Born 1930 in San Francisco, Jim's NBA career lasted from 1955-1964 as a forward on the legendary Bill Russell Celtics team, which won 8 consecutive NBA Championships. Jungle Jim was never a high scorer but had a reputation for scooping up any rebounds Bill Russell didn't retrieve, hence "crashing the backboard".

Link: Vintage trading cards: Jim Loscutoff


kirschwasser

"Drink kirschwasser from a shell / San Francisco show and tell"
Song: Babylon Sisters    Album: Gaucho 
A type of German brandy made from cherries. The name comes from the German words Kirsch (cherry) and Wasser (water), and true to its name, is colourless rather than red (though artificially-coloured varieties exist). Trivia fact: it takes over 20 pounds of cherries to make a single bottle.

Link: Black Forest Kirschwasser


Kiss Me Deadly

"And here she comes very "Kiss Me Deadly" / My life, my love, my third hand rose"
Song: Green Book    Album: Everything Must Go 
1952 pulp detective novel by Mickey Spillane, featuring his famous anti-hero — tough-as-nails private eye Mike Hammer. The plot features the requisite amount of murder, intrigue and a Maltese Falcon-esque pursuit of a mysterious artefact. Made into a film in 1955, which is regarded by aficionados as one of the definitive examples of film noir.

Link: Amazon.com: Kiss Me Deadly


KLH

"It's even better this time around / With Coltrane on the KLH"
Song: Springtime    Album: Kamakiriad 
California-based manufacturer of a well-regarded series of FM radios in the 1950s and 60s. The company name was derived from the initials of designer Henry Kloss and his business partners Malcolm Lowe and J. Anton Hoffman. KLH are still in business today, manufacturing modern electronic audio products such as CD players and iPod docks.

Link: Official KLH site


Kundalini

"Kundalini now! / Baby let me show you how"
Song: Selfish Gene    Album: Circus Money 
A yoga term referring to a form of "corporeal energy" typically represented by a sleeping serpent coiled at the base of the spine — in fact the word "Kundalini" itself is a Sanskrit word meaning "coiled". There is an entire branch of yoga (appropriately called "kundalini yoga") whose aim is to enable the awakening and control of this dormant energy — the harnessing of kundalini is said by some to be the one and only way of attaining divine wisdom. (Apart from reading this site of course!)


Lark

"You in your Lark / You're a mark / You're a screamer"
Song: I Got The News    Album: Aja 
The Studebaker Lark, a 1960s American car. Studebaker was one of the last independent U.S. car manufacturers, and the Lark was their last real attempt at breaking the stranglehold of the big three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) on the American car market. It was far ahead of its time, being a small compact car with European looks and without the then-popular tail fins. Its introduction in 1959 was initially successful, but it didn't last — Studebaker went bankrupt in 1966.

Link: Introduction to the Studebaker Lark


Lhasa

"I am holding the mystical sphere / It's direct from Lhasa"
Song: Time Out Of Mind    Album: Gaucho 
The capital city of Tibet, standing almost 4,000 metres above sea level in the foothills of the Himalayas. The name Lhasa means "Land of the Gods" or "Holy Place" in Tibetan.

Link: ChinaTravel.net: Lhasa


Lincoln Town Car

"In a fleet of Lincoln Town Cars / They rolled into our town"
Song: Mary Shut the Garden Door    Album: Morph The Cat 
A type of American luxury car, manufactured by Lincoln, the high-end division of the Ford Motor Company. The Town Car model originated in 1981 and is still in production, currently being the most expensive luxury sedan (a.k.a. saloon) available in the US. The Lincoln company itself was founded in 1917 and was named after Abraham Lincoln — fittingly, Lincoln have since developed a tradition of supplying limousines to the US President. For example, the car in which JFK was shot was a Lincoln Continental convertible.

Link: Official Lincoln Town Car site


Little Eva

"Little Eva meets the Bleecker Street brat / She's almost gothic but it's better than that"
Song: Almost Gothic    Album: Two Against Nature 
60s pop singer, born Eva Boyd on 29 June 1943 in North Carolina, died April 2003. Got her big break after babysitting for Carole King and Gerry Goffin, who wrote her trademark song The Locomotion, a worldwide Number One hit in 1962. She apparently chose her stage name as an homage to a character in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Link: All-Music Guide: Little Eva discography


Luger

"You hide in the bushes / Murder the man / With Luger in hand"
Song: With A Gun    Album: Pretzel Logic 
A type of military pistol, developed in the 1890s by German armsmaker Georg Luger and used by the German army from 1908-45. The Luger's distinctive looks, renowned accuracy and many available variations have made it much sought-after by gun collectors.

Link: The Luger Forum


masissi

"They all masissi but we hang tough / Apsatively gonna help you beat that stuff"
Song: Two Against Nature    Album: Two Against Nature 
A slang (and deliberately offensive) word for homosexuals in Creole.


Medicine Park

"It takes a crusty punk to really beat / The mean streets of Medicine Park"
Song: Blues Beach    Album: Everything Must Go 
Holiday resort town in Oklahoma. Medicine Park was Oklahoma's first purpose-built tourist resort, built in 1908. Named after nearby Medicine Creek, a body of water believed by the Kiowa and Comanche Indians to have healing powers.

Link: MedicinePark.com


mini-Glock

"And when Abu rams the clip in the mini-Glock / Up on the catwalk inside the warehouse"
Song: Pixeleen    Album: Everything Must Go 
Smaller-size version of the popular Glock handgun. Austrian company Glock (named after founder Gaston Glock) started making pistols in 1982 with great success and introduced the mini-Glock in 1988. Glock handguns are mostly made from polymers rather than metal, and have no external safety catches (all safety mechanisms are controlled automatically by the trigger) making them fast and simple to use and a popular choice for self-defence and law enforcement.

Link: Amazon.com: Mastering the Mini-Glock


Mizar

"Have you heard about the boom on Mizar Five / People got to shout to stay alive"
Song: Sign In Stranger    Album: The Royal Scam 
A star in the constellation Ursa Major (better known as the "Big Dipper"), approximately 88 light years from Earth. In fact, Mizar is not just a single star, but a "quadruple" star — consisting of two binary stars orbiting each other.

Link: Astronomy Picture of the Day


moray eel

"Jack with his radar / Stalking the dread moray eel"
Song: Glamour Profession    Album: Gaucho 
Common name for any of 80 species of eels, of the family Muraenidae. Morays are common in shallow tropical waters, and feared for their razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaws which can cause serious injuries, though they rarely attack humans.

Link: Sea Critters That Can Really Hurt You!


Mr. Chow

"Meet me at midnight / At Mr. Chow's / Szechuan dumplings / After the deal has been done"
Song: Glamour Profession    Album: Gaucho 
Upscale Chinese restaurant in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, popular with Hollywood stars and other celebrities. Takes its name from owner Michael Chow, who also runs Mr. Chow restaurants in New York and London.

Link: Seeing Stars: Where the Stars Dine


Mr. Parker

"You got to come on man / And take a piece of Mr. Parker's band"
Song: Parker's Band    Album: Pretzel Logic 
Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, born 29 August 1920 in Kansas City. Renowned as probably the best and most influential jazz saxophonist of all time, he died at age 34 after a life of excess, and was the subject of the 1988 film Bird, directed by Clint Eastwood.

Link: Official Charlie Parker site


Muswellbrook

"When Black Friday comes / I'll fly down to Muswellbrook"
Song: Black Friday    Album: Katy Lied 
A town in New South Wales, Australia. Muswellbrook is approximately 280 kilometres north-west of Sydney and has a population of 15,000. The pronunciation used in the song is in fact wrong — locals don't pronounce the W, so it sounds more like "Musclebrook".

Link: Muswellbrook Shire Council


New Frontier

"Confess your passion, your secret fear / Prepare to meet the challenge of the New Frontier"
Song: New Frontier    Album: The Nightfly 
A slogan / rallying cry used by John F. Kennedy, originating in a June 1960 speech he made while accepting the Democratic Party nomination for the 1960 U.S. presidential election. In the speech, "the New Frontier" referred to the various challenges facing America in the new decade, but over time the phrase became synonymous with the Kennedy election campaign and his administration's policies. A sample line from the speech: "We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier, the Frontier of the 1960's, a Frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, a Frontier of unfilled hopes and threats."

Link: JFK's "New Frontier" speech


Nino's

"So I duck into Nino's / She's barred from the place / The minute I walk out she's right in my face"
Song: Lunch with Gina    Album: Everything Must Go 
Upscale Italian restaurant in New York, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (on First Avenue between 72nd and 73rd Streets). Named after owner Nino Selimaj, the restaurant is famed for its excellent Northern Italian cuisine, nightly live entertainment and is apparently a favourite haunt of celebrities.

Link: Nino's: Official Site


oleander

"Oleanders / Growing outside her door / Soon they're gonna be in bloom / Up in Annandale"
Song: My Old School    Album: Countdown to Ecstasy 
A poisonous evergreen shrub (Nerium oleander) with fragrant white to red flowers and narrow, leathery leaves. Originated in the Mediterranean, but is now in common use as an ornamental plant in gardens around the world.


package store

"Now the food here ain't so good no more / And they closed the package store"
Song: Turn That Heartbeat Over Again    Album: Can't Buy A Thrill 
A liquor store (or "off-licence" in British parlance), i.e. a shop which sells alcoholic beverages for consumption elsewhere. The slang term originates from the US state laws of Connecticut and Georgia, which declare that purchased liquor must be in a sealed container and/or removed from the premises in a bag or other "package".


panatela

"There on your nightstand much worse than that / Panatela and old black derby hat"
Song: Two Against Nature    Album: Two Against Nature 
A long, slender, straight-sided cigar. Technically, in order to be classed as a panatela, a cigar must be between 5 inches and 7 1/2 inches long, and between 34/64 and 38/64 inches in diameter. The lyric is allegedly a reference to voodoo deity Baron Samedi, usually depicted as a cigar-smoking skeleton wearing sunglasses and a top hat.


piaster

"Just when I'd spent the last piaster I could borrow"
Song: Doctor Wu    Album: Katy Lied 
A silver coin (also spelt piastre) roughly equivalent in value to one US dollar, formerly used in Spain, Spanish America, Italy and other countries. Comes from the Italian piastra, meaning "thin metal plate". Also currently used as fractional currency in several countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria.


prickly pear

"The wind was driving in my face / The smell of prickly pear"
Song: My Rival    Album: Gaucho 
Any of a large genus (Opuntia) of cacti with yellow flowers and flat spiny joints, usually studded with tubercles bearing spines or prickly hairs.

Link: Prickly pear recipes


Rabelaisian

"What exactly does he want / This Rabelaisian puff of smoke"
Song: Morph the Cat    Album: Morph The Cat 
Characterised by coarse humour or bold caricature — from French writer and satirist François Rabelais (1484-1553). He wrote only 4 complete novels in his lifetime, all of which earned him popularity and controversy in equal measure, due to their grotesque and bawdy humour. As a random example, an entire chapter in his second novel Gargantua concerns the protagonist's search for the ideal material to wipe his, how can I put it delicately, ass. (The neck of a goose, in case you're wondering.)

Link: Books and Writers: Rabelais


Radio City

"Stompin' on the avenue by Radio City with a / Transistor and a large sum of money to spend"
Song: Bad Sneakers    Album: Katy Lied 
Radio City Music Hall, New York City — the largest indoor theatre in the world. Located on 6th Avenue between 50th & 51st St., Radio City was built in 1932 and is famed for its sumptuous Art Deco architecture and world-renowned "Rockettes" dance troupe.

Link: RadioCity.com


Raelettes

"If you can't dance by now / The Raelettes will show you how"
Song: What I Do    Album: Morph The Cat 
Girl group, best known for their role as backing singers for Ray Charles (hence their name). Released a few singles under their own steam in the mid-60s, but their most enduring musical legacy is their vocal contribution to Ray Charles classics such as "Hit the Road, Jack". The Raelettes toured and recorded with Ray continuously (though with many personnel changes) between the early 60s and his death in 2004.


Red Hook

"Stranded in Red Hook / I check in the black book / For anyone's cave"
Song: Dog Eat Dog    Album: You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It 
A neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York City. Its name comes from the reddish colour of the local soil and the Dutch word "Hoek" meaning "point" or "corner" — due to its location on a peninsula on the western shore of Brooklyn. Trivia fact: Red Hook is the only place in NYC where you can see a direct front-on view of the Statue of Liberty. Less pleasingly, in the early 1990s it was named "one of the 10 worst neighbourhoods in the US" and "the crack capital of America" by LIFE magazine, though the area has undergone gentrification in recent years, symbolised by the 2008 opening of an IKEA superstore on the waterfront.

Link: Red Hook Justice


retsina

"She serves the smooth retsina / She keeps me safe and warm"
Song: Home At Last    Album: Aja 
A distinctive-tasting Greek wine, flavoured with pine resin. The resin was originally meant to help preserve the wine on long voyages. It also makes retsina an acquired taste, which many people liken to that of turpentine! (Still, it beats drinking Bud)

Link: Retsina - Wine of the Greek Gods


rinkydink

"Call your doctor / Call your shrink / Western science she strictly rinkydink"
Song: Two Against Nature    Album: Two Against Nature 
A derogatory adjective, applied to something considered old-fashioned, unimportant, insignificant, makeshift, worn-out, or poor-quality.


Roppongi

"Dropped on the streets of Roppongi / Soaked through on the floor of a noodle shop"
Song: Pixeleen    Album: Everything Must Go 
A district of Tokyo, known for its night life, prostitution and high concentration of tourists and expatriates. In general, Roppongi has a slightly sleazy yet sophisticated reputation. Roppongi literally means "six trees" in Japanese, though for reasons best known to the town planners, it was given the official slogan "High touch town" several years ago.

Link: Roppongi nightlife


Rudy's

"In the corner / Of my eye / I saw you in Rudy's / You were very high"
Song: Black Cow    Album: Aja 
Rudy's Bar and Grill, a popular drinking establishment in New York City. Located on 9th Avenue & 44th Street in the heart of the formerly-infamous but now-gentrified "Hell's Kitchen" district of Manhattan. Rudy's is a lively and informal "dive" bar best known for its cheap drinks and free hot dogs, and regarded by many as the perfect place to get legless after work.

Link: Rudy's Bar and Grill: Official site


Santa Ana winds

"Here come those Santa Ana winds again"
Song: Babylon Sisters    Album: Gaucho 
The seasonal Santa Ana winds are hot, dry and strong easterly gusts which blow across Southern California between September and February. "Santa Ana" is Spanish for "Saint Anne" and refers to the Santa Ana Canyon near Anaheim, where the winds were thought to originate (however, in reality they come from near the Rocky Mountains). A boon to surfers but a nemesis to firefighters and homeowners, the hot winds are said to fuel aggression and can even foretell a coming earthquake — the so-called "shake and bake" syndrome.

Link: Ask Yahoo!


Savoy sides

"Savoy sides presents a new saxophone sensation / It's Parker's band with a smooth style of syncopation"
Song: Parker's Band    Album: Pretzel Logic 
Savoy was a New-York based record label which was home to Charlie Parker between November 1945 and September 1948. Parker's time at Savoy is regarded as the peak of his creative powers — though it also included his nervous breakdown and time at Camarillo. Oh, and "sides" is simply a jazz slang term for "records".

Link: SavoyJazz.com


Scarsdale

"Sweet things from Boston / So young and willing / Moved down to Scarsdale"
Song: Hey Nineteen    Album: Gaucho 
A town of about 18,000 residents located 25 miles north of New York City. Scarsdale is considered to be among the most upscale towns in Westchester County, which in turn is the most upscale of the areas surrounding NYC. The town is probably most notable for being the hometown of Linda McCartney and the former residence of Yoko Ono, not to mention lending its name to 1970s food fad "The Scarsdale Diet".

Link: Scarsdale Village Government


skeevy

"Maybe it's the skeevy look in your eyes / Or that your mind has turned to applesauce"
Song: Cousin Dupree    Album: Two Against Nature 
Shady or unsavoury. A slang term originated by students — depending on who you ask, it either comes from the Italian word schifoso, meaning "disgusting, revolting", or the Japanese sukebei, meaning "a lewd or lecherous person".

Link: Salon.com: The meaning of "skeevy"


squonk

"Have you ever seen a squonk's tears? / Well look at mine"
Song: Any Major Dude Will Tell You    Album: Pretzel Logic 
A mythical woodland creature, originating in Pennsylvania. Squonks spend much of their time crying due to their ugliness, and when captured, will dissolve into a puddle of tears. Also the subject of a song on the 1976 Genesis album A Trick of The Tail.

Link: William T. Cox's "Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods"


Steely Dan

"They got the shapely bodies / They got the Steely Dan T-shirts"
Song: Show Biz Kids    Album: Countdown to Ecstasy 
A type of (fictional) Japanese dildo. From William Burroughs' infamous 1959 book Naked Lunch. See the following excerpt:
Mary is strapping on a rubber penis. "Steely Dan III from Yokohama," she says, caressing the shaft. Milk spurts across the room. "Be sure that milk is pasteurized. Don't go giving me some kinda awful cow disease like anthrax or glanders or aftosa...."

Link: Amazon.com: Naked Lunch


Strand

"I was grinding through my day gig / Stackin' cutouts at the Strand"
Song: What A Shame About Me    Album: Two Against Nature 
The Strand Book Store, located at 828 Broadway, New York City. Specialising in remaindered and bargain books, the Strand is reputedly the largest second-hand bookshop in the United States, with 18 miles of shelves.

Link: StrandBooks.com


Sunset

"Drive west on Sunset / To the sea"
Song: Babylon Sisters    Album: Gaucho 
Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles — the "Boulevard of Dreams", which runs from Central LA to the ocean, via Hollywood. Made famous by the classic 1950 Billy Wilder movie — also infamous as the site of Hugh Grant's 1995 liaison with hooker Divine Brown.

Link: Internet Movie Database: Sunset Boulevard


Sutton Place

"He's all the talk in shops and schoolyards / Sutton Place / The automat"
Song: Morph the Cat    Album: Morph The Cat 
Neighbourhood in New York City, located in midtown Manhattan, alongside the East River. Sutton Place is a small and elegant neighbourhood, considered to have some of the finest architecture in New York. Also notable for containing the United Nations Secretary-General's official residence.


Tanqueray

"Maybe my watch is fast / Another Tanqueray / I'll wait 'til twenty past"
Song: Lunch with Gina    Album: Everything Must Go 
Brand of British gin, first distilled by by Charles Tanqueray in 1830. Renowned for its smooth flavour, Tanqueray is a London Dry Gin, which doesn't necessarily mean it is made in London (though in this case it is!) but means it is unsweetened, unlike Dutch or 'sweet' gin. Like all dry gins, rather than being drunk straight it is most often mixed with tonic water or in a martini.

Link: Tanqueray.com


TJ

"Like a Sunday in TJ / That it's cheap but it's not free"
Song: Babylon Sisters    Album: Gaucho 
Tijuana, a city just across the Mexican border from California. Being less than 30 minutes from downtown San Diego, Tijuana is a popular destination for Californians seeking good times and cheap booze.

Link: Tijuana Nightlife


Tompkins Square

"Gliding like a big blue cloud / From Tompkins Square to Upper Broadway"
Song: Morph the Cat    Album: Morph The Cat 
A park in New York City, located in the East Village at 8th Street and Avenue A. Best known as the location of a riot between police and homeless squatters in 1988. At the time the park was already infamous as a den of homelessness, crime and drug-dealing, but a concerted effort since the early 90s has seen it renovated and gentrified. Named after Daniel D. Tompkins, a governor of New York and US vice-president in the early 19th century.


tracer rounds

"Our man Abu squeezes off twenty tracer rounds / And that's when she jumps the turnstile"
Song: Pixeleen    Album: Everything Must Go 
Special bullets that contain chemicals that glow brightly when fired. This allows the shooter to follow the trajectory of the bullets for more accurate aiming. They have been used in machine guns since World War I.


trading fours

"You better move now little darlin' or you'll be / Trading fours with the Jack of Speed"
Song: Jack Of Speed    Album: Two Against Nature 
A jazz technique in which musicians consistently alternate brief solos of 4 bars. (Can also trade twos, eights, etc.) Similarly used in tap dancing — each dancer gives their best for 4 bars before passing to another dancer with a non-verbal "Top that!".

Link: Amazon.com: Trading Fours


Tuesday Weld

"Introduce me to that big blonde / She's got a touch of Tuesday Weld"
Song: New Frontier    Album: The Nightfly 
American actress, born Susan Ker Weld in New York City on Friday 27 August 1943. Her unusual moniker came from her childhood nickname, "Tu-Tu" which in turn came from her attempts to say "Susan" as a baby. Best known for playing sexually precocious teenagers in movies such as Sex Kittens Go to College (1960).

Link: Unofficial Tuesday Weld fan page


William and Mary

"I said oh no / William and Mary won't do"
Song: My Old School    Album: Countdown to Ecstasy 
The College of William and Mary, located in Williamsburg, Virginia. The second oldest college in the United States (only Harvard predates it), W&M was established in 1693 by King William III (a.k.a. William of Orange) and Queen Mary II. The list of notable alumni includes three of the first 10 U.S. Presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler.

Link: The College of William and Mary


wing chair

"Spider queen demon and that whole crew / Across the lobby the wicker wing chair flew"
Song: Two Against Nature    Album: Two Against Nature 
A type of armchair (also known as a "wingback" chair) whose distinctive design features a high back with a pair of panels (or "wings") extending from the head of the chair and curving down towards the arms. The wings were originally intended to provide protection from cold draughts, and their use beside a fireplace would also allow the wings to "trap" the heat from the fire for the comfort of the user. Despite the song lyric, the vast majority of wing chairs are upholstered rather than wicker.


Wolverine

"I remember / The thirty-five sweet goodbyes / When you put me on the Wolverine up to Annandale"
Song: My Old School    Album: Countdown to Ecstasy 
A passenger train which used to run from New York-Boston-Detroit-Chicago. Students of Bard College (Becker & Fagen's alma mater) would often take this train as it stopped close to Annandale-on-Hudson. A train called the Wolverine still runs on a much-abbreviated version of this route — from Pontiac, Michigan via Detroit to Chicago.


zombie

"She drink the zombie / From the coco shell"
Song: Haitian Divorce    Album: The Royal Scam 
A type of alcoholic cocktail, which despite the song seems to have originated not in Haiti, but in California. Several different zombie recipes exist, but the most popular consists of 3 different types of rum, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, grenadine and apricot brandy. (The "coco shell" is optional)

Link: How to make a Zombie






Credits:

Created by:Dan O'Malley Email address hidden to deter spammers
Thanks to:The above sites, plus SteelyDan.com and the book Steely Dan: Reelin' In The Years by Brian Sweet.
Site established: June 2000
Last updated: 5 March 2011
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