on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2017 25 Sep

The Walter of Life

von: Jochen Siemer Filed under: Blog | TB | Tags:  | 2 Comments

To the music of Walter Becker (Feb 20 1950 – Sept 03 2017)

Have you ever beeing bored by a fusion guitarist who was able to hit the ten-second mark in a relay race with John McLaughlin and thereby running empty as a dried up rain butt in the Mohave desert? Then take a look to the west coast – to California, home of Steely Dan! It will bring back to you the refreshing Walter of Life. Guitarist Becker was somehow a slowhanded counterpoint to the fastness of McLaughlin and part of the duo Donald Fagen & Walter Becker and their joyful mix of jazz, folk, blues and fusion elements combined with witty lyrics and songwriting. The result of this hybrid, multicoloured culture product was always something bigger than the sum of its parts and sustainably lasting like the flashbacks of a joint.

„Way back when, in Sixty-seven …“ – it was in 1980, previously doped and musically beeing hooked by dealers like Joe Zawinul, Joni Mitchell, Lowell George, Robert Palmer, John Martyn and Jean Luc Ponty. One expected, after the great pleasure of The Royal Scam, new stuff from the californian west coast and that came along quite under-cooled. The cover however is like a Picasso painted statue of the ever-dancing couple – elegantly and with that same subtle irony as the clever lyrics of the Zeitgeist-architects from the westcoast. Texts were not fully understood at that time anyway, despite language courses in Cornwall.

The dandy mistaken for „Gaamakiii“ was not that bon vivant woken up by an early-morning cock-scream. As the gamma chi he was rather high up – and just by listening one never would have been able to enscript what nowadays you can easily read by having insight to the written lyrics. The story of the albums perhaps best and still listenable song is quickly told: the protagonist travels from Boston to Scarsdale, two and a half hours on a public bus to meet a nineteen-year-old girl. He is irritated because the teeny doesn’t know „Retha“ Franklin and he feels his age. But the Mexican tequila and the Colombian grass make the night a wonderful thing – same as the salsa spiced ending of this song: sweet and delightful in the aftertaste.

„Hallo Neunzehn“ (Hey Nineteen) – remixed and translated.

This entry was posted on Montag, 25. September 2017 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Apart from the story – what a fantastic title!

  2. Brian Whistler:

    Agreed about Walter: understated, slow burning, tasteful, always in the pocket with the perfect tone.

    As for Hey Nineteen, it’s one of almost a genre of dirty old man songs penned by Fagen. What can ya say? He probably lived out all his fantasies. Not many men can say that!

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