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The Steely Dan Dictionary: D

Listing 4 entries:

Let's grab some takeout / From Dean & DeLuca / A hearty gulping wine
Song: Janie Runaway   Album: Two Against Nature

A chain of gourmet grocery stores and cafés originally based in the SoHo district of New York City.

The chain currently contains 12 stores across the US, and about two dozen more in Asia, particularly Japan. (They even have a store in Roppongi — I wonder if Pixeleen shops there?)

Link: Dean & DeLuca online store

There on your nightstand much worse than that / Panatela and old black derby hat
Song: Two Against Nature   Album: Two Against Nature

A derby is a style of men's hat (known as a "bowler hat" outside the US).

Invented by London hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler in 1849, it is oval-shaped and made from stiff felt, with a dome-shaped crown and a narrow, curved brim.

The song lyric supposedly refers to hat-wearing cigar-smoking voodoo deity Baron Samedi — see panatela.

Link: History of the Bowler Hat

When all my dime dancing is through / I run to you
Song: Aja   Album: Aja

An alternative name for "taxi dancing" — in other words, posing as a dance partner for pay.

Most popular in the 1920s in the United States, a typical setup in a taxi-dance hall saw male patrons purchase a ticket for 10 cents (i.e. a dime) which allowed them to dance with their choice of female partner for the duration of one song.

The female dancers in question were all employed by the dance hall & typically earned 5 cents out of the 10 cent ticket price, leading to their alternative nickname "nickel hoppers".

Are you with me Doctor Wu / Are you really just a shadow / Of the man that I once knew
Song: Doctor Wu   Album: Katy Lied

Dr. Jing Nuan Wu (1933-2002), an acupuncturist and artist formerly based in Washington D.C.

Emigrated from China to the United States at a young age and graduated from Harvard to become a Wall Street venture capitalist, finally setting up a Taoist clinic in Washington in 1973.

Apparently he helped one of the band to overcome drug addiction in the mid-70s, hence the lyrical tribute.

Link: The Art of Jing Nuan Wu