The Super Serendipity of Steely Dan


Italian Traffic Jam…soon to be ended by Rikki Don’t Lose That Number

Some time ago I met a geeky individual that totally impressed me, as geeky individuals often do, by way of their heartfelt passion. He had journeyed all around the Northern Hemisphere in a griddy old van, and was convinced that the power of his vehicle didn’t have anything to do with the engine, so much as the extraordinary collection of stickers that he had acquired as he journeyed across land and sea, hill and dale. It was these stick–on reminders of everywhere – from Ankara to Aberdyfi that explained (to him) how he had managed to cover thousands of miles merrily, merrily, without any mechanical problems of any kind.

A cleverer person than I would put this down to synchronicity, but I reckon intention and magic have much to explain in life, and there’s nothing quite like opening ones mind to possibilities to make thing happen.

Yesterday we set off for Cosgrove and Milton Keynes at 3.30 in the morning in an attempt to avoid the rush hour traffic. We hadn’t been driving very long on the M1 when not only gushing rain and screaming wind appeared from nowhere, but the mother of traffic jams slowed us and a zillion others to a complete and total halt. It was that kind of block that only happens with some kind of accident or another, causing us all to hope that nobody was hurt. No sooner had we stopped in that dark wet no-man’s land, the intrepid driver (not me) and our good passenger (not me) both settled down into a state of despair that goes with jams of this magnitude in places North of Watford. I won’t go there. I’m the eternal optimist that people sometimes hate in such moments, the chirpy twerpy who leaps to offer a solution to a traffic jam, without even being able to drive.

Before I even tell you what this solution is, let me tell you where we have overcome traffic jams with this glorious remedy – stoppages in Strasbourg, log jams in Lyon, blooming blocks in London not to mention motorway mayhem in France, the UK and Italy… all been resolved with this fabulous technique… which is… the music of Steely Dan.

I see your powers of belief are being stretched a bit, much like my partner, the driver of our car, who whenever I say ‘OK let’s put on Steely Dan’ sits in silent disbelief as seconds, and then minutes tick away to the tinkling tones of Pretzel Logic, Reelin’ in the Years or Rikki Don’t Lose that Number, as the once immoveable traffic starts up… and returns to normal. Our passenger was equally confounded, but better still, what better way to get your journey back to speed than to play some of the greatest pop music ever, music that must have been written on the move, and is so gutsy that it demands to be listened to as the internal combustion engine does its damnest to bugger up the environment; but hey ho, the car is here for now, and we have to live with it.

That said, why is Steely Dan so great? It’s road music, pure and simple. When I hear the opening chords Babylon Sister or The Caves of Altamira I can understand why the gods on Olympus say “Yea! So Shall it be… may the traffic move… so that we can hear that extravagant opening riff of Don’t Take Me Alive!”

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