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How Steely Dan Composes a Song: “Deacon Blues”

This is a tremendous deconstruction of Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues” by a guy who calls himself Nerdwriter. He looks at several elements: A strange chord the band used in the song and others, the instrumentation, the recording process, choosing the backup players and the lyrics.

By the way, the chord is called the Mu major and, of course, was borrowed from the 12th century composer Perotin, who used it in “Viderunt Omnes.” We all knew that, of course.

The video is well extremely well done and well worth a listen.

Check out Nerdwriter’s Patreon page. I had the opportunity to chat with Steely Dan’s Jon Herington in 2014.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.