Donald Fagen: On the Dunes

Written by Jamie Bernstein

Writer, Narrator and Broadcaster

In category: Song of the Day

Published April 21, 2017

Our final Fagen song this week is from his astonishing solo album Kamakiriad. It’s a concept album: a long, shaggy, sci-fi romp in a futuristic car. The songs have a loose, funky, jiggly joy that make this album perfect on a long car trip, or when you’re cleaning the house. I love it with an unseemly passion.

“On the Dunes” isn’t like the rest of the album; it seems to sit in its own melancholy corner. I happen to think this song deserves to be a standard—it’s just a bit in disguise here, because of its attenuated tempo, and its atmosphere of not wanting to arrive anywhere in particular. But I’m waiting for some ingenious stylist to come along and reveal this song to us in all its masterful construction.

Drive along the sea
Far from the city’s twitch and smoke
To a misty beach
That’s where my life became a joke
On the dunes…

Donald Fagen, long may you wave. Thanks for the music, the words, the mysteries, the irresistible grooves.

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Jamie Bernstein is a narrator, writer and broadcaster who has transformed a lifetime of loving music into a career of sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with others. Jamie has written and narrated concerts about Leonard Bernstein, Mozart and Copland, among others. In addition to her own scripted narrations, Jamie also performs standard concert narrations. She is a frequent speaker on musical topics, including in-depth discussions of her father’s works. Jamie has also produced and hosted numerous shows for radio stations including several seasons of the New York Philharmonic’s live national radio broadcasts, and various series for New York’s classical station, 96.3 WQXR FM, including annual live broadcasts from Tanglewood. In addition to writing her own scripts and narrations, Jamie writes articles and poetry, which have appeared in such publications as Symphony, DoubleTake, Town & Country and Gourmet.

1 Comment

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    I love this song–both the lyric and the melody. It has what’s best about Donald Fagen and Steely Dan–finding the beauty in emotional disaster.


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