Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" by Donald Fagen

Song#:  1213
Date:  10/09/1982
Debut:  56
Peak:  26
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Soft Rock, Jazz-Rock

Pop Bits:  After his 1981 break-up with his Steely Dan partner Walter Becker, Fagen turned to a solo career and recorded his debut album "The Nightfly." Although not necessarily a concept album, its lyrical content reflected Fagen's life and outlook growing up in the suburbs in the late 50s/early 60s. This first single got off to an excellent start debuting at a high #56. However, Fagen's sophisticated pop/jazz style was not really what the kids were diggin' at the time and the song faded once it got inside the Top 30. It did much better at AC where the song peaked at #8. The song also spent a little time the R&B chart reaching #54. The album would be successful reaching #11 and Grammy voters rewarded it with a nomination for Album of the Year. This song also got Fagen nods for Song of the Year and Pop Male Vocalist.

ReduxReview:  Not being a fan of Steely Dan to begin with, this one was lost on my quite quickly. In fact, I though it was kind of a dorky song. I remember thinking - this is what smart people must listen to. Well, times change and I've learned a lot more since then so I have a better understanding and appreciation for this song now. I wouldn't call it a favorite in any way, but I can easily groove with its smooth sound. (Although I have to say I still kind of consider this nerd-pop...)

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia: Fagen sets a specific timeline for this song via its title. "I.G.Y." refers to the International Geophysical Year, a project that took place from July 1957 to December 1958. The project was meant to promote international collaboration on certain categories of earth sciences. The Cold War had spread to the scientific world and this project was a way for countries to work together for the greater good. Sixty-seven countries would participate including the US and the Soviet Union. It was during this time that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1. Fagen's song focuses on the hopefulness this project projected for the future.


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