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

An American chain of gourmet grocery stores and cafés, founded in 1977 and originally based in the SoHo district of New York City.

The chain currently comprises 8 locations in the US and over 50 in Asia, more than half of which are in 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