Cover & Lyrics: The secret to playing Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne”

Last week, I got to see the legendary Steely Dan although I certainly, remorsefully didn’t ever get to see Walter Becker. I wrote about the gig at the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, too. If you haven’t been to River Spirit for a show, I highly, highly recommend it.

Easy find. Easy parking. Awesome staff. Coffee shop open after the show.

If you read that post, you know that Donald Fagen and company did “Kid Charlemagne” as their encore. “Kid” is my favorite ‘Dan’ song of all time. It mixes rock with jazz and his wonderful on guitar as it is on keys, kind of a perfect blend of Becker and Fagen.

So, this weekend I decided to cover it. Show me a little grace on this one; I worked it up in 30 minutes and memorized most of the words. The secret to playing this tune is the beginning. You can’t just hammer a C7 and call it good. In the right hand, it needs to be an Eb, E and Bb — three notes with a C bass.

See also: Ryan Welton’s YouTube channel filled with original songs, comedy tunes, smooth jazz and video randomness

Here are the lyrics for you to follow along:

While the music played, you worked by candlelight
Those San Francisco nights
You were the best in town
Just by chance you crossed the diamond with the pearl

You turned it on the world
That’s when you turned the world around
(Did you feel like Jesus?)
Did you realize
That you were a champion in their eyes?

On the hill the stuff was laced with kerosene
But yours was kitchen-clean
Everyone stopped to stare at your technicolor motor home

Every A-Frame had your number on the wall
You must have had it all
You’d go to L.A. on a dare and you’d go it alone
(Could you live forever?)
Could you see the day?
Could you feel your whole world fall apart and fade away?

Now your patrons have all left you in the red
Your low-rent friends are dead
This life can be very strange
All those day-glo freaks who used to paint the face

They’ve joined the human race
Some things will never change
(Son, you were mistaken)
You are obsolete
Look at all the white men on the street

Clean this mess up else we’ll all end up in jail
Those test-tubes and the scale
Just get it all out of here

Is there gas in the car?
Yes, there’s gas in the car
I think the people down the hall know who you are

‘Cause the man is wise
You are still an outlaw in their eyes

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