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Alper Analyzes Steely Dan

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Garth Alper tickling the ivoriesDr. Garth Alper’s paper, “Not Just Derision and Darkness: The Interplay of Lyrics and Music in Steely Dan’s Compositions” has been accepted for publication in Rock Music Studies. The article will appear in a special issue of RMS that focuses on the 50th anniversary of the group’s founding. Dr. Alper’s paper challenges the commonly-held notion that Steely Dan’s music solely revolves around dark themes and cynicism. A deeper reading of their lyrics, especially when viewed in conjunction with their music reveals layers of nuance underneath the sharp wit. Looking at Steely Dan’s oeuvre in this manner can bring us to the realization that even their darkest stories about human behavior can be viewed as cautionary tales designed to enlighten the listener. Finally, many of Steely Dan’s compositions display sincerity and kindness, qualities that are often overlooked by casual listeners and in the press.