Friday, July 09, 2004

Won't you pour me a Cuban Breeze, Gretchen? (Part II)

A critical examination of "The Goodbye Look"

Last night I dreamed of an old lover dressed in gray.
I've had this fever now since yesterday.
Wake up, darling, they're knocking, the Colonel's standing in the sun,
With his stupid face, the glasses, and the gun.

I know what happens,
I read the book.
I believe I just got the goodbye look.
Won't you pour me a Cuban breeze, Gretchen.

"The whole scene turns out to be a deja vu from some cheap spy novel. Yet later, while pondering a way out, the singer casually asks the German bartendress for another drink. This "why let imminent demise ruin a good vacation" attitude is quintessential Fagen. After all, life is only a movie, right? The only musical hint of calamity is the chorus melody, which sits tensely on a fifth straight through, while the chord progression beneath slithers through a series of knotted suspensions, never resolving until Gretchen delivers his Cuban Breeze.

The glib, relaxed guitar solo that follows evokes the gay, nonchalant ambience of the bar, reinforcing that at moments like these, one does what one can, Fate does what it will. Similarly, the chic, glamorous ambience of Rick's Cafe in the film Casablanca masks the tingle of intrigue in which a single misplaced glance can cost one's life. In such tightly wound dramas, emotions can only be read in extreme close-up, whether they be in Humphrey Bogart's eyes or Donald Fagen's vocal."

Click here for the rest of this silliness.

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