Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Deacon Blues” (Steely Dan Cover) (Feat. Bill MacKay)
Right now, Bill Callahan and Will Oldham have a fun little project going. In the couple of months since Callahan’s album Gold Record has come out, Callahan and Oldham have been teaming up to rope in collaborators and to cover a bunch of other people songs. They’ve done Cat Stevens with AZITA, Hank Williams Jr. with Matt Sweeney, Dave Rich with Alasdair Roberts, the Other Years with Matt Kinsey, and Billie Eilish with Sean O’Hagan. Today, the pair have taken on prime Steely Dan.
Beloved jazz-rock studio-technician cynics Steely Dan included the hit “Deacon Blues” on their 1977 album Aja. Like a lot of Steely Dan songs, it’s intricately self-critical piece of writing. Their jazz-musician narrator thinks of himself as a kind of superhero, a sci-fi Expanding Man. It’s a lost-hopes song, rendered in fluid easy-listening glory.
For their cover, Callahan and Oldham (recording, as usual, under his Bonnie “Prince” Billy moniker) have teamed up with the experimental folk guitarist Bill MacKay, who fingerpicks all through the song. Callahan and Oldham have covered the song at its full seven-minute length, with Callahan singing lead over a whole lot of acoustic guitars and Oldham singing the backup harmonies. Listen below.