Last month a previously unreleased Steely Dan song from 1979 called “The Second Arrangement” made its way online via the family of Roger Nichols, the band’s longtime engineer. Now another Dan rarity from Nichols’ archive has been unearthed, and this one is a jingle for Schlitz Beer.
In 1972, before the band began recording Countdown To Ecstasy, they agreed to record theme music for a Schlitz beer ad. The sessions went down the same day Donald Fagen and bandmate Denny Dias posed for the above photo at the Village in Los Angeles; it appears on the back of the “Katy Lied” single.
As the Exploding Dan Substack explains, Fagen only agreed to take the gig on the promise of creative freedom without interference from corporate. Producer Gary Katz recalls, “As we were doing it, somebody came by from Schlitz’s ad agency — you know, a guy with a powder-blue sweater tied around his neck and quite literally a stopwatch in his hand. He walked into the control room and thought he was going to take over, and that just wasn’t gonna happen. He started asking questions about the song. Donald said aloud to me, ‘Do you have your hand near the red button?’ Then he addressed the ad guy: ‘If you say another word about this song, we’re just gonna erase it.’ So the guy left.”
The resulting tune affirms, “When you’re out of Schlitz/ You’re out of beer.” There’s also a spoken word part in Spanish that ultimately resulted in the jingle going unused. In the YouTube description, Nichols’ daughter Cimcie explains that “the Spanish word for grab can also mean insert four letter word for sex here.” Listen below.