Can You Hear Me, Dr. Wu?

Designing the Signifier

Authors: Walter Becker, Donald Fagen
Artists: Steely Dan
Album: Katy Lied
Song: Dr. Wu

Doctor Wu appears to be a song about a somehow betrayed loser talking or wanting to whine to a mysterious shrink, who perhaps might be also the one who has stolen the girl. It features a very much standard Steely Dan capture of the truth in emotional moments: "All night long, we would sing this stupid song, and every word we sang I knew was true."

As to the identity of this Dr. Wu, in various interviews Steely Dan have claimed he's a thoroughly fictional character, with Donald Fagen explaining, "We change the names to protect the innocent." The truly innocent indeed need to be protected, in the arts as everywhere else.

The album which took its name from a line in this song is the fourth and the first pure Dan studio album after they had stopped touring. It was originally released in 1975 by ABC Records, went gold and peaked at #13 on the US charts. That's about how it was with the Dan in the 70ies.

The "Cuban gentleman" lines came to my mind in 2008 when my choir spent some quality time in South Florida and our bus passed by Biscayne Bay more than one time. Thanks to miniature hard disks in diminutive Hardware after singing the song for two friends I was able to also play it to them.

If you ask yourself what's so very "jewish" about this song, ask again. There might be an easy answer.

The Song

Katy tried, I was halfway crucified,
I was on the other side of no tomorrow.
You walked in, and my life began again
Just when I'd spent the last piaster I could borrow.
All night long we would sing that stupid song,
And every word we sang I knew was true.

Are you with me Doctor Wu,
Are you really just a shadow of the man that I once knew?
Are you crazy, are you high or just an ordinary guy?
Have you done all you can do, are you with me Doctor?

Don't seem right, I've been strung out here all night
I've been waiting for the taste you said you'd bring to me.
Biscayne Bay where the Cuban gentlemen sleep all day
I went searching for the song you used to sing to me.

Katy lies, you can see it in her eyes,
But imagine my surprise when I saw you.

Are you with me Doctor Wu
Are you really just a shadow of the man that I once knew?
She is lovely yes she's sly and you're an ordinary guy.
Has she finally got to you, can you hear me Doctor?
Are you with me Doctor, can your hear me Doctor?
Are you ...

The adress

Dr. Wu, man, you did not post in a long time, maybe you need some med yourself. Well, here it comes, with Edelweiss-Extract and everything: hola hola hola!

last updated: 17.02.20 20:31

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