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