Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Donald Fagen--I.G.Y (What a Beautiful World) (1982)

     When Steely Dan split up in 1981, Walter Becker moved to Hawaii and spent time on his avocado farm (and took some time to wean off of his drug habit). Donald Fagen went to work on a solo album which would be released in 82 as, "The Nightfly".
      Musically, the album didn't sound a whole lot different than what you might expect from a Steely Dan album, however the lyrical content was something else indeed. For the Dan's entire lifespan, the lyrics were as much a part of the fun as the music. Obtuse, but intelligent, the lyrical pairing with the jazzy overtones to the music were a perfect match. However, this first post-Dan album was almost totally autobiographical, speaking of Fagan's childhood spent in New Jersey.
     I.G.Y stood for "International Geophysical Year". It stood for an scientific interchange between the East and West after the death of Stalin. The event lasted from July of 1957 until December of 1958 and was attended by all major powers except for China. The lyrics speak of a positive and hopeful world that would achieved by those of other cultures coming together. In fact, much of this album had an upbeat positive feel about it, which was another great contrast from the cynical outlook of his lyrics with Steely Dan.
     The song reached number 26 on the charts, but was a huge FM hit as well. It was nominated for a Grammy for song of the year in 1983, but lost out to Willie Nelson's, "You Were Always On My Mind". In 93, Becker and Fagen resurrected their group and he maintains a solo career along with touring and recording with the group.



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