What is your favorite Steely Dan lyric?

by | Jun 14, 2020

“Is there gas in the car? Yes, there’s gas in the car!”

This is for me the best Dan lyric. Why?

On its face, it’s stupid, almost nonsensical. But once you know the context, it turns out to be brilliant.

If you have read interviews with Donald and Walter they’ve said their goal when writing songs was to “crack each other up.” So, for many of these lyrics, they are often obtuse to even a regular listener. This is because the joke was between them.

In the case of “Kid Charlemagne” they have indicated that the song might resemble the person of Owsley Stanley III, aka “The Bear,” and arguably the greatest LSD chemist ever. For several years he was a fugitive, and the way he was caught was that he ran out of gas in a chase with the FBI.

Hence the ironic, and brilliant lyric, “Is there gas in the car, yes, there’s gas in the car.”

Originally published here on Quora. 

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