(Poem #921) Charlie Freak
Charlie Freak had but one thing to call his own. Three weight ounce pure golden ring, no precious stone. Five nights without a bite, No place to lay his head, And if nobody takes him in he'll soon be dead. On the street he spied my face, I heard him hail. In our plot of frozen space he told his tale. Poor man, he showed his hand, So righteous was his need, And me so wise I bought his prize for chicken feed. Newfound cash soon begs to smash a state of mind. Close inspection fast revealed his favorite kind. Poor kid, he overdid, Embraced the spreading haze, And while he sighed his body died in fifteen ways. When I heard I grabbed a cab to where he lay. 'Round his arm the plastic tag read D.O.A. Yes Jack, I gave it back, The ring I could not own Now come my friend I'll take your hand and lead you home.
Steely Dan defy categorization. For 30 years now, the songwriting duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen have been penning wry, ironic commentaries on urban decay, set to elegant jazz-inflected pop. Their songs are lyrically and instrumentally complex, meticulously crafted and quite self-consciously intellectual; amazingly, the band still manages to rock as righteously as just about anyone. "Charlie Freak" is from my favourite Dan album, 1974's "Pretzel Logic". The black humour (with more than a touch of pathos) is typical Dan, as is the unusual melodic structure and careful craftsmanship (note especially the strict pattern of internal rhymes). Mmmm, I think I'm going to have to go and listen to it again now... thomas.