James Middleton Jewelers Blog
March 13th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Donald Fagen likens himself to a precious stone in Steely Dan's 1972 classic, "Reelin' in the Years."



In the song, we learn that the lead singer is having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that his long-time girlfriend has found another man.

He sings, "Well, you wouldn't even know a diamond / If you held it in your hand / The things you think are precious / I can't understand."

Written by Fagen and Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker, "Reelin' in the Years" has stood the test of time and continues to be one of the band's mosts popular songs.

Beyond the diamond reference, the track is also famous for a memorable guitar solo credited to a guest musician. Elliot Randall, who had been part of a backing band for Jay and the Americans, recounted the story to a journalist from Guitar World Magazine.

“They were having trouble finding the right ‘flavor’ solo for ‘Reelin,’ and asked me to give it a go,” Randall said. "Jeff Baxter played the harmony parts, but my entire lead—intro/answers/solo/end solo— was one continuous take... The whole solo just came to me, and I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play it.”

How good was the solo? The legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page told Classic Rock magazine that it was his favorite guitar solo of all time and Q magazine placed the recording at #95 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

Steely Dan fans may consider listening to the song's quadraphonic mix, which reveals extra lead guitar fills you don’t hear in the stereo version.

As the second single from Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy a Thrill album, “Reelin’ in the Years” peaked at #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and #15 on the Canadian RPM chart.

Founded in 1972, Steely Dan is credited with having sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. The group — led by Becker (guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals) — was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Becker passed away in 2017, leaving Fagan as the sole founding member of the group. At age 72, he continues to tour, with upcoming engagements scheduled for Austin, TX; Thackerville, OK; Portland, OR; Auburn, WA; Concord, CA; Hollywood, CA; Chula Vista, CA; Phoenix, AZ and Fort Worth, TX.

We hope you enjoy the video of Fagan and the rest of Steely Dan performing "Reelin' in the Years." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Reelin' in the Years"
Written by Walter Carl Becker and Donald Jay Fagen. Performed by Steely Dan.

Your everlasting summer
You can see it fading fast
So you grab a piece of something
That you think is gonna last
Well, you wouldn't even know a diamond
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can't understand

Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine

You been tellin' me you're a genius
Since you were seventeen
In all the time I've known you
I still don't know what you mean
The weekend at the college
Didn't turn out like you planned
The things that pass for knowledge
I can't understand

Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine

I spent a lot of money
And I spent a lot of time
The trip we made to Hollywood
Is etched upon my mind
After all the things we've done and seen
You find another man
The things you think are useless
I can't understand

Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine


Credit: Image by Raph_PH / CC BY via Wikimedia Commons.