Is It Really Steely Dan without Walter Becker?

This week’s episode of Modern Family revolved around Phil and Claire trying to get errands done in time for a 3 pm concert by Steely Dan:

When Phil asked why it was so early, Claire responded, “They are not young men, Phil.”

They are not. In fact, co-founder Walter Becker died just last month. Which made that joke, indeed, the whole episode with its series of references to Steely Dan in concert seem like poor taste to me. Couldn’t they have simply dubbed in the name of another old band?

But when I clicked on Steely Dan’s official website, I was shocked to find that the band is indeed in the midst of a nationwide tour (though no afternoon shows). “They” are playing near me in a couple weeks, Baltimore on the 24th and National Harbor on the 25th. But wouldn’t these shows be more accurately credited to Donald Fagen, solo, . . .

. . .  or will he be touring with a “hologram” of Becker, like Tupac’s at Coachella 2012:


How Little Buildings Are Made

The Louvre has decided not to display Domestikator by the Dutch art studio Atelier Van Lieshout because the 40-foot outdoor sculpture is too “sexually explicit.”

That would not have surprised me in the U.S., but I did not think the French, who stereotypically act like they invented sex, or at least perfected it, were so prudish.

All I’ve got to say about the sculpture is that she’s a . ..

Every time I hear this great song I am again amazed that Lionel Richie was once funky.

Tom Petty’s Legacy

Yesterday, when everyone thought Tom Petty was dead, hours before he actually did ascend to Rock and Roll Heaven, WTOP interviewed Bob Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. The newscaster repeatedly asked Thompson to discuss Petty’s “influence.” Each time, Thompson nimbly sidestepped the question to discuss Petty’s significance.

Tom Petty was not influential.

This in no way diminishes the man or his music, or even his large role in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. But Petty was not an originator, or even a trendsetter. Instead, he was traditionalist who proudly cited (and sometimes covered) those who influenced him: Elvis, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Byrds:

He earned his place among his idols, the legends Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in the Traveling Wilburys, . . .

. . . toured with Dylan and recently co-produced former-Byrd Chris Hillman’s upcoming album, Bidin’ My Time.

At a time when most of those who still played rock in a new pop age treated it as a museum piece to be “revived,” either meticulously recreating the details while losing the soul or “curating” the quaint old music with a hipster wink, Tom Petty kept “real” rock ‘n’ roll alive and vital. And that is a pretty significant accomplishment.

But even if he had little influence in the sense of birthing a generation of “new Pettys,” as there were once so many “new Dylans,” although a case could be made for Haim, whose “Little of Your Love” hints they’ve listened to Petty’s “Don’t Do Me Like That” more than a few times, . . .

. . . it does not mean that Tom Petty has not been and will not continue to be hugely inspiring:

If Trump Goes “Straight to Hell,” Will He Attempt a Hostile Takeover from Satan?

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s response to Trump’s lack of response to Puerto Rico:

The Clash’s response to Trump’s lack of response to Puerto Rico, 35 years in advance: