What does Deacon Blues mean?

Steely Dan: Deacon Blues Meaning

Album cover for Deacon Blues album cover

Song Released: 1978

Deacon Blues Lyrics

This is the day
Of the expanding man
That shape is my shade
There where I used to stand
It seems like only yesterday
I gazed through the glass
At ramblers
Wild gamblers
That's all in the past

You call me a fool
You say it's a crazy...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Apr 4th 2009 !⃝

    This song is about the decision to focus one’s life passions and energy to music. “It is the time of the expanding man” He was through with college and was through with rambling and gambling “ that’s all in the past” (or so he thought). He later wrote Boshivadtta which means enlightenment and compassionate in Hindu philosophy. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker studied philosophy and other subjects at Bard College.
    The second verse is self explanatory “You call me a fool you say It’s a crazy scheme….This one’s for real I all ready bought the dream….foolish to ask me why.. Throw a kiss and say goodbye”…there were some naysayers, but he believed in himself “I’ll make it this time”.. “ I’m ready to cross that fine line”...There was no looking back.
    The third verse or chorus is also pretty transparent. .I’ll learn to play the saxophone. Drink Scotch Whiskey all night long and die behind the wheel ( making music and living the lifestyle is great fun …Chicks, Booze, Drugs, Sex, Death…one of there mates died in a lat night auto accident) other than the death part who wouldn’t be happy. You’ve made it….They call Alabama the Crimson Tide…. But now there is the name thing , you need a good one a cool one , a hip and catchy one after all your not Bernie the accountant, or Joe the Plumber, your in show bizzz, therefore “Deacon Blues. “ A reference to the hip coolness of the “ Steely Dan” moniker from William Burroughs “Naked Lunch” novel, whose title was miss transposed from Kerouak to Ginzberg to Burroughs from “Naked Lust”
    Fourth verse “back to the wall… essence of true romance…sharing love w those we love ..& my kind…libations sensations…that stagger the mind” There were also hardships but when you are doing something you love with friends and partying and having a good time as well. The experiences are mind blowing…. Is there anything better?
    Fifth verse, “I crawl like a viper…thru these suburban streets..make love to these women.. wake up when the sun goes down.. cover every game in town.(so much for focusing, partying and no gambling) a world of my own..” They moved from New York to LA, now successful players in the world stage ahh Music show Bizzz and all its fringe benefits.
    The last verse he is getting ready to perform on stage again…last drag from cigarette....I cried when I wrote this song ….sue me if I play too long…..” Unlike studio sessions performing live is a high in itself and inspired players improvise and jam.. “This brother is free I’ll bee what I want to be…..” Chorus.

  2. anonymous
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    Dec 24th 2022 !⃝

    The reference to “they call Alabama the Crimson Tide, call me Deacon Blues …” is about a guy who realises he is living an unfulfilled and “loser” lifestyle. (I want a name when I lose) He is referencing Alabama as losers, that have this fantastic cool name, and he wants a cool name too, even though he’s a loser. It’s actually a shot at the South - Don and Walter think they are all losers.

  3. anonymous
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    May 11th 2022 !⃝

    It seems to me that Steely Dan lyrics are tied to literature of that time. Deacon Blues followed the story line of Kurt Vonnegut's "Sirens of Titan". Throw Back the Little Ones was close to Carlos Castenada's Trilogy. King of the World could be "On The Beach".

  4. anonymous
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    Apr 11th 2016 !⃝

    i.o.w. like the old Chinese saying goes: be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

  5. anonymous
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    Apr 11th 2016 !⃝

    it's better to be a failure like deacon blues than a winner like the crimson tide. i.o.w. winning isn't all it's cracked up to be. it's full of illusion.

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