In the late 1970s, both the sport of skiing and the jazz-rock group Steely Dan were at the height of their popularity. The unmistakable common denominator between the two? Sex. When people listened to Steely Dan, they thought about Cuervo Gold and willing 19-year-olds; when people went skiing, they thought about Cuervo Gold and willing 19-year-olds in stretch pants.
That all changed in the 1980s, when ski-resort operators decided that the way to a solid bottom line was through family-friendly marketing. At the same time, Steely Dan disappeared, their sublime musicianship and lyrical subversiveness driven into a dark corner by the ascendance of sugar-coated ’80s pop.
But in case there was any question of the circularity of culture, Steely Dan came out with a new album, Two Against Nature, in early 2000, and on that album appeared the following lyric:
“She turned my life into a living hell
In those little tops and tight capris.
I pretended to be readin’ The National Probe
As i was watchin’ her wax her skis.”
So, when the Dan swung their lyricists’ gaze across the modern sexual landscape, did they see our sport hanging out there, looking suave? Or were they just reeling in the years?
Disc of the Month:
PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, Question in the Form of an Answer (Om)
If your interest in rap has dropped to Air Supply levels lately, it’s understandable: The genre’s mainstream has become as formatted and imbecilic as ’80s hair rock. But as rock fans in the Reagan era learned, when the mainstream slips, check out the underground. L.A.’s People Under the Stairs have resurrected hip-hop’s mellow, jazzy De La Soul¿school groove, wrapping their smart lyrical flow up in Wes Montgomery¿style guitar loops and deft scratches. The resulting beats are like a powder dump in November.