Steely Dan

Barrytown

Song Review by

Although "Barrytown" didn't appear on a Steely Dan album until 1974's Pretzel Logic, it was in fact one of the first demos Donald Fagen and Walter Becker ever worked on together, before Steely Dan even existed. Named for a small upstate New York town near the duo's alma mater, Bard College, "Barrytown" is a sneering denunciation of the town and its natives ("It's a special lack of grace/I can see it on your face"), disguised as a cheerful little pop song and sung in Fagen's closest approximation of a sweet-natured voice. (Fagen's distinctive whine is such that it's impossible for him to sing anything without some sort of spin.) The tune is similarly candy-coated, a straightforward piano-led pop song that's refreshing in its catchy simplicity, and also helps soften the bite of the dismissive lyrics. Although both writers' names are in the credits, "Barrytown" is one of the few Steely Dan songs that Fagen has admitted was written with no input from Becker. Fun listening game: on the verses, notice how similar the vocal melody is to the Beatles' "Tell Me What You See."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Pretzel Logic 1974 MCA 3:22
No Image 1984 MCA
Stone Piano 1988 Magnum
Citizen Steely Dan 1993 MCA 3:19
Forward into the Past: Becker & Fagan - The Early Years 1997 Boomerang Records / Beacon Records
Legends of Rock [Mega Stars] 1997
Various Artists
Mega Stars 3:18
Android Warehouse 1998 Dressed To Kill 2:40
Can't Buy a Thrill/Pretzel Logic/The Royal Scam 2003 Universal Distribution 3:22