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Life In The AfterDan

by Wayne Krantz

"You goin' on the road with 'em again?" "You guys touring this year?" "They makin' a record? You gonna be on it?" "That's it - it's over?"

These questions, and others like them, have kept me shrugging ever since my stint as lead guitarist with Steely Dan, one of my favorite concepts ever, came to a bleary close amidst Lotus blossoms very late that night at Trader Vic's in Osaka (or was it the next morning, on the 23 hour flight back?): the end of the Art Crimes Tour, October 1996. Whisked home from Kennedy in that final limousine, dropped with that final mondo paycheck and resonating with the roars of that last giant audience, I wiped the greasepaint from my eyes, climbed the rickety stairs to my tiny Manhattan apartment and thought: "NOW what?"

Don't get me wrong. There were things to do. With a sense of pride and satisfaction, I took the pile of money I'd just earned and turned it over in its entirety to creditors from previous not-so-lucrative years. My landlord asked, "You guitar for Steely Dan. Why you keep live here, in this dump?" I didn't have the heart to tell him I was broke. He'd find out soon enough anyway, come the first of the month.

Re-joining the local music community was everything I thought it would be. Anxious to play my own music again, my band began working once every other month, on the condition that we "break it up with a little Dan stuff". This transition from the big stage back to the small club was challenging, particularly in having to learn how to play the riff from "Bodhisattva." Fortunately the club owner's brother-in-law knew it.

But times were tough, and I was forced - at least temporarily - to take a regular job.

Surprisingly, working here at Kinko's has much in common with playing guitar with Steely Dan: hours irregular enough to keep things interesting, the satisfaction taken in a copy-job well done, enlightened interaction with my fellow employees, and about the same pay. Of course, there are differences - I don't have a tech anymore ( I mean, there's the Xerox guy, but he only comes once a week) and it seems sometimes like I don't get quite the respect that I did from the stage. But if during the workday "Peg" or "Josie" or "Reelin'" comes on the radio, my co-workers - perhaps sensing my occasional feelings of nostalgia - never fail to rush over to me and begin wildly playing air-guitar while screaming with laughter. And as I join in with them, I know I've answered the question "Is There Life After Dan?" with a resounding "YES!"

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