“Throw Back the Little Ones”—last song, side two of Katy Lied (1975)

This song has suffered a little bit as far as my affections go simply because it follows a really strong track (“Any World”)—a very daunting task—also, it doesn't sound anything like the kind of song you'd end an album with (as “Any World” does). I was also always a little put off by this song for no other reason than the first line: “Lost in the Barrio, I walk like an Injun”—which, I know, was not as politically incorrect in 1975—and also, I know it's the voice of a character—but still, the last person I recall using that term was John Wayne, who used it a lot—and while John Wayne was a moving part of a lot of really great movies, as an actor, he's just about the opposite of what I like in an actor. The character here finds himself in a Spanish speaking neighborhood in NYC, at odds with someone named “Carlo”—but—and even more so in the next two verses—it's layer upon layer of metaphor—the underworld character using the metaphor of the Old West, and then the hipster writing the song using the metaphor of the underworld character—with a little angler mixed in.

It's a much better song than I previously ever gave it credit for. “So I pawn my crown for a ride uptown, and buy it back tomorrow” is a great line. And, of course, it's hard to argue with the advice: “Throw back the little ones and pan fry the big ones”—I find myself repeating that a lot more than I would have thought possible. There are these smooth horns, I guess horns, very subtle, and a kind of catchy to the point of being annoying what sounds like a synthesizer part at the beginning of each verse, and then a kind of flawlessly smooth guitar solo, followed by some other odd bits, tempo changes, and jazz nerd complexity. Then at the very end it gets really quiet and there's just piano—it's own thing, for less than half a minute—and it sounds like anything but the end of a record—more like the beginning of something, like if it was a TV show theme song (though no TV show has a song that pretty). That just might be another Steely Dan joke—end the record with something that sounds like a beginning. That's the kind of thing that makes me like them so much.

—Randy Russell 11.4.18

Current Ranking: No. 32