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Charlie Freak -- Steely Dan

(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
 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...


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