What does Rikki Don't Lose That Number mean?

Steely Dan: Rikki Don't Lose That Number Meaning

Album cover for Rikki Don't Lose That Number album cover

Song Released: 1974

Rikki Don't Lose That Number Lyrics

We hear you're leaving, that's OK
I thought our little wild time had just begun
I guess you kind of scared yourself, you turn and run
But if you have a change of heart
Rikki don't lose that number
You don't wanna call nobody else
Send it...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 28th 2019 !⃝

    I am a gay man who was in high school when the song came out in the 70's and I absolutely thought the lyrics were about a gay man coming to terms with himself. Whether that was the meaning or the inspiration or not, it spoke to me in a way that no other pop song of that era did, so hats off to Steely Dan for helping many young gay men in an era of oppression whether they intended to or knew they were doing so or not


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Jul 17th 2015 !⃝

    Rikki Ducornet(female) was a NY writer and artist who Donald Fagen met while they were both students at Barth college in NY. They met at a college party(she was married at the time) and Rikki was worried that she was becoming attracted to Donald and decided to leave before things went too far, but not before Donald gave her his phone #.This explains most but not all the lyrics.

  3. anonymous
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    Sep 18th 2022 !⃝

    I think it’s about a musician who played with SD for a short while and then left, because their music was too jazzy and weird (“scared yourself”).And SD want him (or her) to have a “change of heart” and stay on. That totally explains all the lyrics. The reference to Slowhand means playing more Clapton-style blues, instead of their jazzier stuff. Similarly, in jazz slang “stay inside” means avoiding dissonance and avant-garde sounds. “You tell yourself you’re not our kind, but you don’t even know your mind” means Rikki should be open to SD’s style.

    I know they said it was about a women named Rikki they knew in college, but musicians sometimes invent fake meanings for songs to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

  4. anonymous
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    May 26th 2022 !⃝

    It’s all about a cocaine bender. How can no one else see that? Rikki reached that level where they had to leave the party. However, the host was kind enough to share the phone number of their connection. No more, no less.

  5. anonymous
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    Sep 11th 2021 !⃝

    From what I’ve read, it’s about a girl Donald Fagen had a crush on in college. I initially thought it was about Rikki Lee Jones but that was wrong. I never heard it being about weed or anything gay. In all honesty, I love the song no matter what it’s about. Especially the piano after “I have a friend in town he’s heard your name.”

  6. anonymous
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    Sep 19th 2020 !⃝

    Does it *really* matter what the intention was, or just *who* inspired the lyrics? Isn't that why popular songs are made popular, because they appeal to to a *very* broad range of inspired-and-album-buying listeners??? Personally, when the song debuted, I just figured it was for *anyone* named Riki or Rickie or Ricky or Rikki. You've got four girls and/or guys right there, who think the song was all about them. Thanks for playing, and er ah *paying*! I hear royalties in a good recording contract can go on forever.

  7. anonymous
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    May 13th 2020 !⃝

    Back in the 70's, when a friend asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint, he would say, "Hey, wanna smoke a number?" So I thought it was about weed too.

  8. anonymous
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    Nov 29th 2019 !⃝

    I heard it was about while in college, he was balling a professor's wife, her name was Rikkie

  9. anonymous
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    Aug 18th 2019 !⃝

    Long ago, men i knew were fans of Steely Dan. I never really cared for soft rock/jazz. Decades later learning they were so gay long ago. I was heavy metal/pop/grunge/punk. Still do not understand the Dan. Like all the gays did. Long ago. Are they still alive? I doubt it. If there was anything greater than platinum classic, I would award it to Steely Dan.

  10. anonymous
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    Nov 4th 2018 !⃝

    It’s definitely about Rick Derringer

  11. Justakracka
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    Sep 3rd 2017 !⃝

    I remember something about them writing a song and before protecting it with a copywrite, the idea was used by someone else, thus the verse "send it off in a letter to yourself"...dont open it and the postmark date would be a way to prove your case. "You might use if you get better, when you get home" rip co-founder, we will miss you

  12. anonymous
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    Sep 3rd 2017 !⃝

    Rikki as a smoke misdirect for Ricky. "You're not my kind" for Rikki?

  13. anonymous
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    Jun 6th 2017 !⃝

    I also thought it could mean smoking cannabis.

  14. Chris Andoe
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    Jun 30th 2016 !⃝

    "I have a friend in town. He knows your name."

    This would be relevant in the secret society of gays at the time.

  15. anonymous
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    Sep 14th 2014 !⃝

    My name is Ricki, I am a girl, well I was a younger girl, I 1974 and thought it was my song, even though I didn't know Steely Dan, but it was supposed to be about a friend of theirs, a girl from Bard college..

  16. anonymous
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    Jun 8th 2014 !⃝

    I am so glad that someone else had my feelings for this song, having grown up on Long Island in the seventies and not being sure of my own sexuality, this errie melody and mysterious message only made my imagine that they must be talking about some first time experience that involved fear and longing, desire and trepidation, anyway it resonated through me at the time for that and still does. Great song whatever its meaning.

  17. anonymous
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    Jul 23rd 2013 !⃝

    Correct spelling of the name is Rikki and it is the female verision of the name so I believe you are mistaken when you make the assumption that it is about a same sex relationship due to the name. And for the record I have a daughter in law named Rikki so it is not as unheard of as many people may think, it is just more a regional name.

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