I came to love and appreciate Steely Dan over the course of my twenties. I did not enjoy them while I was growing up in New Jersey. I lacked the wisdom and experience required to truly absorb their music. I was like Jonathan Richman when asked to cover a Steely Dan song for the awful Me Myself & Irene soundtrack; I never could figure out what them fellas was singin’ about.
As I grew older, Steely Dan lyrics became clearer. The words were honest poetry, sometimes inscrutable, each syllable chosen for its sound and rhythm as well as its meaning. The music was simply too complex for me to grok as a teenage punk. I had to experience the proper amount of loss, beauty and hardship before I really “got” it.
I didn’t know what a “squonk” was, but I knew that somehow, the most incredible song ever written and performed used to play on the radio. You could hear this masterpiece for free.
Why do bad covers happen to good albums? Is there some sort of unspoken “aesthetic limit” that dictates that a certain quantity of enjoyable music must be balanced with a cover so hideous that joints cannot be rolled upon its surface? Sure, album art itself has more or less gone the way of the dodo in the past ten years, but does that mean that such a tremendous percentage of album covers have to be such a graphic-design abortion?
We’ve all seen one of those “Worst Album Cover” sites at one point or another. I’m not trying to compete with any of that. However, I do intend to share with you the albums that have personally irked my damned fine artistic sensibilities. You’ve probably seen these before, maybe you haven’t, maybe you wish you hadn’t. You won’t have to worry about any Roger Dean covers, because everyone I’ve ever met who was into Roger Dean was a total douchebag, thus I seldom bother to listen to albums with Roger Dean covers. Continue reading →