Peg (song)

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International picture sleeve
Single by Steely Dan
from the album Aja
B-side"I Got the News"
ReleasedNovember 1977[1]
Producer(s)Gary Katz
Steely Dan singles chronology
"Haitian Divorce"
"Deacon Blues"
45 RPM vinyl record
A-side label of the U.S. vinyl single
Official Audio
"Peg" on YouTube

"Peg" is a song by the American rock group Steely Dan, first released on the band's 1977 album Aja. The track was released as a single in 1977 and reached number 11 on the US Billboard chart in 1978 and number eight on the Cash Box chart.[4] With a chart run of 19 weeks, "Peg" is tied with "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and "Hey Nineteen" for being Steely Dan's longest-running chart hit. In Canada, "Peg" spent three weeks at number seven in March 1978.[5]

Music and lyrics[edit]

"Peg" has been described by AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine as a "sunny pop" song with "layers of jazzy vocal harmonies",[6] while music scholar Stephen K. Valdez said it features a fusion of jazz and rock elements.[7] In the opinion of jazz musician and academic Andy LaVerne, the song "has the blues at its core, though it might not be apparent at first listen".[8]

The song's guitar solo was attempted by seven top studio session guitarists—including Robben Ford and recurring guitarist Larry Carlton—before Jay Graydon's version became the "keeper".[9] He worked on the song for about six hours before the band was satisfied.[10]

Graydon spoke about his famous guitar solo in a 2014 interview:

Fortunately, I had no problems on sessions as to nailing a part, but know this—every first call studio guitarist that has played solos has been replaced by another guitarist at least once. It's just part of being a studio musician.[11]

Michael McDonald provides multi-tracked backup vocals in the choruses, and keyboardist Paul Griffin can be heard talking and improvising background vocals in the final chorus and fadeout.[12]

Although there was speculation that the name was a reference to Broadway star and one-time Hollywood actress Peg Entwistle, in 2000 the band said the song was written about a real person but not Entwistle.[13] In 2020, Donald Fagen said "There's no hidden meaning. We just wanted a dotted half note for that spot, and 'Peg' was short enough to fit with the music."[14] Fagen added that the song "takes place at a seedy photo shoot in L.A...from the perspective of [a] jilted boyfriend."[15]


Pitchfork rated "Peg" as its 87th best song of the 1970s, describing it as the "perfect Steely Dan song, and one of the strangest hits to ever grace the mainstream."[9] Drummer Rick Marotta calls "Peg" one of the greatest tracks he has ever played on.[16] In 2017, Dan Weiss of Billboard ranked the song third on his list of the top 15 Steely Dan songs,[17] and in 2020, Phil Freeman of Stereogum ranked the song second on his list of the top 10 Steely Dan songs.[18]

Billboard praised the "sarcastic" lyrics, the "stinging instrumental break" and the "chilling" piano playing.[19] Cash Box wrote, "this snappy number has the beat and the harmonic hooks to capture that extra top 40 momentum."[20] Record World called it "a pop-rock love song, crafted with [Steely Dan's] usual perfectionism and flair."[21]

The song was the theme music for a celebrity paparazzi segment by the syndicated news magazine Entertainment Tonight from 1981 to 1985.[citation needed]

"Peg" was heavily sampled on the 1989 De La Soul song "Eye Know".[22] It was covered by Nerina Pallot in 2007 and in 2014 by Donny Osmond.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]


Source: Adapted from Aja liner notes.[26]


  1. ^ "Steely Dan singles".
  2. ^ Pitchfork Staff (August 22, 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 13, 2022. By the time they released Aja in 1977, Steely Dan were situated between fusion and oddball, glamour-obsessed art-pop, comparable to Weather Report and Roxy Music in equal measure.
  3. ^ Pitchfork Staff (August 22, 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 13, 2022. And with "Peg," they again landed the kind of pop-rock triple axel that they invented.
  4. ^ a b Steely Dan USA chart history, Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Aja - Steely Dan". AllMusic. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  7. ^ Valdez, Stephen K. (2006). A History of Rock Music (4th ed.). Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. p. 381. ISBN 0757533795.
  8. ^ LaVerne, Andy (2006). "More Than a Blues". Keyboard. Vol. 32, no. 1–6. p. 42.
  9. ^ a b "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s - Page 6 | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  10. ^ Schonfeld, Zach (September 24, 2017). "Steely Dan's 'Aja' at 40: The Inside Story of the Band's Most Legendary Guitar Solo". Newsweek. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  11. ^ 2014 interview with guitarist Jay Graydon on [1].
  12. ^ Classic Albums DVD: Aja
  13. ^ "Steely Dan fan Q&A". Archived from the original on 2016-10-09. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  14. ^ Myers, Marc (7 April 2020). "'Peg, It Will Come Back to You': Steely Dan's Donald Fagen on the 1977 Hit". Wall Street Journal.
  15. ^ Myers, Marc (7 April 2020). "'Peg, It Will Come Back to You': Steely Dan's Donald Fagen on the 1977 Hit". Wall Street Journal.
  16. ^ Russ Harris (2008-08-04), Peg - Steely Dan - The Making Of, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2016-09-09
  17. ^ Weiss, Dan (September 3, 2017). "The 15 Greatest Steely Dan Songs". Billboard. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  18. ^ Freeman, Phil (November 25, 2020). "The 10 Best Steely Dan Songs". Stereogum. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  19. ^ "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. November 26, 1977. p. 96. Retrieved 2020-07-11.
  20. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. November 26, 1977. p. 24. Retrieved 2021-12-26.
  21. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. November 26, 1977. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-02-16.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, March 11, 1978
  24. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1978/Top 100 Songs of 1978". Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  25. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  26. ^ "Steely Dan - Aja (1977, Gatefold; Santa Maria Pressing, Vinyl)". Discogs. 1977. Retrieved 16 October 2021.

External links[edit]