The Steely Dan Infographic Project, in which we create a chart, diagram, graph or other visual aid inspired by each and every Steely Dan song. This edition: “FM” from FM, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
We’d like to give a shout out to whoever started the fantastic Metafilter thread about our efforts. In fact, this particular edition was directly inspired by one of the posts. We greatly appreciate the support.
Arguably one of the modern wonders of the recording world, “Show Biz Kids” owes as much a debt to the late recording engineer Roger Nichols for its pristine pulse as it does to Donald Fagen and Walter Becker themselves. Nichols, who would be behind the soundboard for Steely Dan’s entire run and who passed away on April 9, 2011, literally invented the analog drum sampler for this song – the result of Fagen and Becker’s frustration in acquiring a steady enough tempo from even the most skilled studio musicians.
Inspired by Owsley Stanley, producer of more than 1.25 million doses of LSD in Summer-of-Love San Francisco and pioneer of the Grateful Dead’s Wall of Sound amplification technique, this song’s bizarre syzygy with Stanley’s death – the result of a tragic car accident on March 13, 2011 – proves both that this life can be very strange and that some things will never change.