When the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs for the Southeastern Conference title and a shot at the national championship, I posted on Facebook a YouTube video of Steely Dan's Deacon Blues -- dedicated to the Tide because of the lines, "They've got a name for the winners in the world ... they call Alabama the Crimson Tide."
I've always loved Deacon Blues not only for that line, but because it's a great song. Had a whole bunch of Steely Dan favorites back in the day -- FM, Hey Nineteen, Peg, Josie, Reelin' In the Years, and so forth. But I never knew much about the band until now. That's why I love the Internet -- between Google and Wikipedia, you can find out all kinds of things.
I found out that the two movers and shakers of Steely Dan were Donald Fagen and Walter Becker and that they're from New York. Curious about the Alabama Crimson Tide line in Deacon Blues, I found the song's entry on Wikipedia where I read this very, very typical Yankee put-down...
The song, while contrasting winning and losing in life, does so by taking as an image the perennial powerhouse, Crimson Tide football team. Group member Donald Fagen said, "Walter (Becker) and I had been working on that song at a house in Malibu. I played him that line, and he said, 'You mean it's like, they call these cracker assholes this grandiose name like the Crimson Tide, and I'm this loser, so they call me this other grandiose name, Deacon Blues?' And I said, 'Yeah!' He said, 'Cool! Let's finish it!'"
Couldn't resist following up my Facebook post with this note to Fagen and Becker. They'll never see it, but my Facebook friends will. Here's an edit of that Facebook post:
But it's all right, fellas. You're a couple of gray haired, balding boomer-music has-beens approaching retirement and your adult-diaper years, while the Alabama Crimson Tide is as young as it was when you wrote the song. And the Tide is still winning, and stands on the threshold of yet another national championship.
You've won six Grammy awards, the last one in 2001? The Crimson Tide has won 12 national championships, made 58 bowl appearances, has 98 first team all Americans and in 2009 Tide player Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy.
In Deacon Blues, you may have intended parody, but the fact remains, these crackers with the grandiose name, Crimson Tide, are indeed among the winners in the world, you losers... Meaning "crackerjack" fits the typical Crimson Tide player far better than the snide "cracker assholes."When I say "Yankee," I don't mean every single person north of the Mason Dixon line. There are a great many people in the north who are wonderful folks -- good neighbors, good Americans, generous and kind. I'm not talking about those folks. I'm talking about people with the Yankee mentality, which comprises, among other things, arrogance and snide.
What is it that compels people with the Yankee mentality to stereotype Southerners like Fagen and Becker did? It seems to be automatic, without much thought, just something that's expected when you're talking about Southerners. From whence does such bigotry originate?
In 1977, the year Walter Becker and Donald Fagen penned, recorded and released Deacon Blues, the same year Becker called the Crimson Tide "cracker assholes", these fellows were among those on the Tide roster:
Ozzie Newsome, E.J. Junior, Tony Nathan, Neil Callaway, Marty Lyons, Barry Krauss, Tom Jordan, Johnny Davis, Jeff Rutledge, Dwight Stephenson.Anyone want to point out some trait or characteristic of these athletes that made them deserve to be called "cracker assholes" by drug-drenched rock musician Becker, whose narcotic use contributed to the dissolving of the band four years later, Becker's own descent into addiction, and the death of his girlfriend by drug overdose that led to a 17 million dollar wrongful death suit against Becker (eventually settled in his favor)?
Certainly the South is populated with crackers -- nothing wrong with that; crackers are no worse than arrogant Yankees -- and it has its share of assholes (Just like New York), both of which, on the morality ladder, are several rungs above degenerate rock musicians whose glorification of drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex in their music has contributed to the drug culture that caused wasted lives, early deaths, crime and untold misery.
Fast forward thirty-five years after the release of Deacon Blues. Take a look quarterback AJ McCarron and Jeremy Shelley, place kicker with a perfect record for Alabama this year. Good-lookin' sweet Southern boys with a winner's mentality.
-- Southern crackers are better than northeastern elitists --
... and another music video -- but nothing from Steely Dan. Instead, sit back and enjoy the Crimson Tide's fight song played by the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band!
Yea, Alabama! Drown 'em Tide!
Every 'Bama man's behind you;
Hit your stride!
Go teach the Bulldogs to behave,
Send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave!
And if a man starts to weaken,
That's a shame!
For 'Bama's pluck and grit
Have writ her name in crimson flame!
Fight on, fight on, fight on, men!
Remember the Rose Bowl we'll win then!
Go, roll to victory,
Hit your stride,
You're Dixie's Football Pride, Crimson Tide!
Note: I will very likely return to this subject, i.e., the differences between Southern crackers and northeaster elitist a**holes, in future blog posts.