By Gary Graff
The Oakland Press
Mood Swings 2013: 8 Miles To Pancake Day is not a conventional name for a tour. So, as you might imagine, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan don’t have a conventional answer for how it came to be.
“Mood Swings, that was the easy part,” says Fagen, 65, who met Becker at Bard College in 1967 and formed Steely Dan five years later after the two moved to Los Angeles. “Then we were reminiscing about the old television show called ‘Route 66,’ and we remembered how in those days they used to name TV episodes using very eccentric titles like ‘Who’s Afraid of the Muffin Man,’ things like that.
“So we decided we were going to have a subtitle for our Mood Swings tour. In fact, we’re thinking we might change the subtitle every couple of weeks.”
Becker, meanwhile, calls the tour title “a reconciliation of the classic space-time dilemma — in other words, time versus distance. It’s like the Russian army’s sergeant says, ‘You will dig me a ditch from here to dinner time’ … ”
This Mood Swings swing, which runs into early October, also marks 20 years since Fagen and Becker, who notoriously did not tour during the band’s ’70s heyday, brought Steely Dan back as a touring entity. “It’s great fun to play with a really good band — that goes without saying, right?” says Becker, 63, who adds that he and Fagen can “smell” a new Steely Dan album coming, its first since 2003’s “Everything Must Go.” Fagen adds that “everything has gotten better” since Steely Dan’s limited run of touring during the ’70s.
“Now it’s much more fun to play,” he says. “I’m glad we turned into a big-time touring band later in life. In fact, it’s almost like we planned it out that way.”