Steely Dan

Time out of Mind

Composed by Donald Fagen / Walter Becker

Song Review by

The coda of the first single from 1980's Gaucho, "Hey Nineteen," might have contained a casual reference to "fine Colombian," but the album's second single -- and Steely Dan's last chart hit before their lengthy split -- goes one further. "Time Out of Mind" is a barely veiled song about heroin, specifically a young man's first experience with the drug at the hands of a pretentious, pseudo-religious crank talking of "chasing the dragon" with the "mystical sphere direct from Lhasa." The lyrics are typically sardonic in the usual Steely Dan fashion -- Donald Fagen spins the song's bridge, sung from the dealer's point of view, with a don't-believe-a-word snicker -- but also characteristically value-neutral. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits plays the song's main solo, but for some odd reason, it's mixed well behind the rest of the arrangement, so far back that the listener has to pay careful attention even to hear it properly; worse yet, it's not a particularly memorable solo, and it's so lacking in Knopfler's usual distinctive style that even a Dire Straits fan probably couldn't guess it was him without looking at the credits. Since Knopfler was one of the most immediately recognizable guitarists of his generation, the lackluster solo is particularly odd, but unfortunately typical of the uninspired, going-through-the-motions feel of Gaucho as a whole.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Gaucho 1980 MCA 4:14
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection - The Best of Steely Dan 2007 Geffen 4:12
Collected 2009 Universal / Universal Distribution 4:09
Can't Buy a Thrill/Gaucho MCA / Universal Music
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