Song Lyric Sunday | “Do It Again” – Steely Dan

Song Lyric Sunday_new

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is Did/Didn’t/Do/Don’t/Does/Doesn’t.


Mention the band, Steely Dan, and most people think of Aja, their 1977 Grammy-winning, platinum album. However, their breakout hit Do It Again, was five years earlier from their first album, Can’t buy a Thrill.

Like many of their songs, it’s hard to make sense of the lyrics, which seem to be about some combination of addiction, second chances and the inevitability of fate. It’s an example of a Steely Dan song that doesn’t make literal sense, but creates a mood.

The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 18, 1972, and reached number 6 on the US charts in 1973, making it Steely Dan’s second highest charting single.


    • Steely Dan’s sound was very unusual, and when asked to explain it, they sometimes described it as “smart rock.”
    • Steely Dan is named after a dildo from the William Burroughs novel Naked Lunch. Donald Fagen recalled to Mojo magazine: “We had to come up with a name in a hurry and Walter and I were both Burroughs fans, though he was not known at the time. It was an in-joke- who’s going to know what Steely Dan was? And we figured that, like most of our bands in the past, it would fall apart after three months, so we didn’t think much about it.”
    • David Palmer fronted the band during their live show, and he sang Do It Again when the group played The Midnight Special in January 1973. But Donald Fagen sang the vocal on the album version. Fagen is reported to suffer with stage fright in the early years and mostly sang in the studio.

The video is from their Midnight Special appearance.


See my Song Lyric Sunday selection for Nesie’s Place!


Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Do It Again


In the mornin’ you go gunnin’ for the man who stole your water
And you fire till he is done in but they catch you at the border
And the mourners are all singin’ as they drag you by your feet
But the hangman isn’t hangin’ and they put you on the street

You go back, Jack, do it again, wheels turnin’ ’round and ’round
You go back, Jack, do it again

When you know she’s no high climber then you find your only friend
In a room with your two timer, and you’re sure you’re near the end
Then you love a little wild one, and she brings you only sorrow
All the time you know she’s smilin’; you’ll be on your knees tomorrow


Now you swear and kick and beg us that you’re not a gamblin’ man;
Then you find you’re back in Vegas with a handle in your hand
Your black cards can bring you money so you hide them when you’re able
In the land of milk and honey you must put them on the table



17 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday | “Do It Again” – Steely Dan

  1. Adelaide Dupont says:

    Really appreciate the qualities of Smart Rock Steely Dan brought to the table.

    First real acquaintance with these guys was 10 years ago at least or within 10 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. fireblossom32 says:

    Can’t Buy A Thrill was big when I was a senior in high school. I believe Show Biz Kids was on that, or the next album, too. I saw them live when they were still a touring band, in 1973 or 74. Countdown To Ecstasy came out at that same time, when I was in college and just looking at the album (or cd now) cover makes me think of beer and bad mornings. Yikes! “Katy Lied” (my favorite) came out after I had gone into the work force and wasn’t very happy. All of it resonates for me, as you see. Aja was hardly on my radar at all….life had moved on. But I still have Katy Lied on my iPod. Thanks for reminding me of this excellent band. But I wouldn’t go back, Jack, for anything at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I listened to Can’t Buy a Thrill-much to the dismay of my parents-because of older sibs, and Do It Again was a fav, but Aja topped the charts during my senior year and I was all about Deacon Blues and Peg. 😄 Good memories and good music, but like you, I wouldn’t go back either. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I never tried to make sense out of these lyrics before, but I always like the beat of this song and the line that says, “You go back, Jack, do it again”, because my younger brother’s name was Jack and I said that to him on occasion.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I remember Can’t Buy A Thrill vividly in the window at Record Rendezvous. I thought it was edgy enough to get me in trouble. My cousin named his daughter Aja after their more well known album. My aunt was so upset. ❤ Steely Dan and the fun facts were interesting. Nice pick!

    Liked by 1 person

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