Josie (Steely Dan song)

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Josie cover.jpg
Italian cover
Single by Steely Dan
from the album Aja
B-side "Black Cow"
Released August 1978
Format Single
Recorded 1977
Genre Jazz fusion, soft rock, R&B
Length 4:30
Label ABC
Songwriter(s) Walter Becker, Donald Fagen
Producer(s) Gary Katz
Steely Dan singles chronology
"FM (No Static at All)"
"Hey Nineteen"
"FM (No Static at All)"
"Hey Nineteen"

"Josie" is a song written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen and first released by Steely Dan on their 1977 album Aja. It was also released as the third single from the album and performed modestly well, reaching #26 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has appeared on several Steely Dan live and compilation albums.

Lyrics and music[edit]

Becker and Fagen wrote an early version of "Josie" well before the recordings for Aja took place.[1] While most of the songs on the album fuse jazz with rock, Allmusic critic Stewart Mason describes "Josie" has as the album's "most conventional rocker."[2] Nonetheless "Josie" incorporates many jazz chords.[3] Don Breithaupt sees an influence from the Delta blues, particularly in the "stark open fifths and lyric-driven rhythm," but Breithaupt also notes that it incorporates "exotic open chords derived from the parallel Phrygian scale."[4] Rolling Stone Magazine critic Michael Duffy describes it has having "tight, modal tunes with good hooks in the choruses, solid beats with intricate counter rhythms and brilliantly concise guitar solos" as well as a complex horn chart and "schmaltzy" L.A. jazz riffs.[5] Mason praises the song's "sly irony and danceable R&B groove."[2] J.J. Syrja notes that the song even echoes disco, but doesn't "fall victim" to it.[6]

Becker plays a guitar solo on the song, one of the few on Aja.[2] Steely Dan biographer Brian Sweet particularly praised his solo, calling it "a real stormer."[7] Fagen sings the lead vocals.[5] The other musicians on the song include Chuck Rainey on bass guitar, Victor Feldman on electric piano and Larry Carlton and Dean Parks on guitar.[4] The drummer is Jim Keltner, who critic Victor Aaron particularly praises for a fill that restarts the song near the end after a brief pause.[3][1]

Seguin Gazette-Enterprise reviewer J.J. Syrja describes the song as "a tasty ditty about a community girl in the truest sense of the word."[6] "The lyrics describe the boys of the neighborhood celebrating the return of a fun-loving girl named Josie who may have a shady past and anticipating the debauchery that may ensue.[2][3][5][1] Sweet suggests that she may be returning from prison.[7]


Josie was released as the third single from Aja, following "Peg" and "Deacon Blues."[4][7] A non-Aja single, "FM (No Static at All)," was released between "Deacon Blues" and "Josie."[4] Although the earlier two Aja singles reached the Top 20, "Josie" fell a little short of that, peaking at number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.[7][8] It also reached #44 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.[9]

"Josie" was included on several Steely Dan compilation albums, including Greatest Hits in 1978, Citizen Steely Dan in 1993 and Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story, 1972–1980 in 2000.[10][11][12] Several live versions were released, including on Alive in America in 1995, Plush TV Jazz-Rock Party in 2000 and Green Flower Street: Radio Broadcast 1993 in 2015.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b c Robustelli, Anthony (2017). Steely Dan FAQ: All That's Left to Know About This Elusive Band. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-1495025129. 
  2. ^ a b c d Mason, Stewart. "Josie". Allmusic. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  3. ^ a b c Aaron, Victor (April 8, 2012). "Steely Dan Sunday, "Josie"(1977)". Something Else!. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  4. ^ a b c d Breithaupt, Don (2007). Aja. Bloomsbuy. ISBN 9781441115188. 
  5. ^ a b c Duffy, Michael (December 1, 1977). "Aja". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  6. ^ a b Syrja, J.J. (October 3, 1977). "Steely Dan". Seguin Gazette-Enterprise. p. 47. Retrieved 2017-05-20 – via 
  7. ^ a b c d Sweet, Brian (2016). Steely Dan: Reelin' in the Years. Omnibus. ISBN 978-1468313147. 
  8. ^ "Steely Dan Chart History:The Hot 100". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  9. ^ "Steely Dan Chary History"Adult Contemporary". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  10. ^ Elias, Jason. "Greatest Hits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Citizen Steely Dan". Allmusic. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  12. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story, 1972–1980". Allmusic. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  13. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Alive in America". Allmusic. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  14. ^ "Green Flower Street: Radio Broadcast 1993". Allmusic. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 

External links[edit]