You Don’t Want to Call Nobody Else

My recollections of Rikki are vivid though dreamlike. I remember her sitting in the back seat of a car, clutching a neatly-folded piece of paper. Now she’s leaving – she’s running from something. I am a little afraid for her because he doesn’t want her to leave. I feel twisted and torn because it’s so beautiful I can’t walk away. But it still scares me a little because I don’t understand. Ahhh, a sigh of relief.  She’s going home.

When she gets home, I imagine her sitting on a white-shag carpet playing Candyland. It’s surreal: I can’t see whom she’s playing with. Now, she is sitting at a desk writing a letter. A letter to herself.

Oh, isn’t it so pretty and melancholy? Now she’s leaving. He tells her that’s okay, but he doesn’t sound like it is. He wants her to change her mind, you know; he wants her to understand that his number… it’s the only one she wants. It’s all so perfect, in my insides it feels perfect, and I just know she’ll feel better when she get’s home.

I don’t want Rikki to lose that number either. And I don’t want the music to ever end. This was my very first favorite song.  I would sit with my headphones on, listening to it play over and over. I had every word memorized, even if I had no idea what they meant.  As a four-year old, I heard it for the first time in the back of my dad’s car. I imagined myself as Rikki, holding on to that little piece of paper, knowing that no matter what I did, I could not lose it.

Thank goodness this was Steely Dan’s first song to make it to #4 on the 1974 billboard chart. It’s constant play on the radio washed over me, pulling me into Rikki’s world, baptizing me into the world of Steely Dan. It kindled my life-long love of this band with a desire to learn what made these musicians with the weird lyrics tick.  And when the faintest of faint, opening notes of “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” begin, everything falls away, and that same dream of Rikki is as clear as it was almost 40 years ago.


(I’m probably listening to Rikki Don’t Lose That Number)

Rikki Don’t Lose That Number by Steely Dan

34 thoughts on “You Don’t Want to Call Nobody Else

  1. Steely Dan was truly one of the great and Rikki Don’t Lose that Number is still a classic. Loved how you got to the point on this one for sure and happy to now have this song stuck in my head this morning!! 🙂

  2. Wonderful memory! And isn’t it great that those old songs we so loved still play and bring such sweet memories? My first favourite songs were by The Monkees. I listened to them at full blast. Without the headphones. With . . . less than pleasant consequences. 🙂

  3. I did that with songs I loved. Still do. Try to imagine them through from start to finish. It always fascinates me how the music videos often don’t even try to do this but instead take off in some bizarre direction.

    • I totally agree with you Jester Queen! I think of that all of the time. For the post before I was looking at the video for Rosanna by Toto, so completely off topic that I chose a completely different video. Because that music video was ruining the song for me!

  4. ha, I really enjoyed this piece. I was a little lost at first- but in a good way. then I got to “I don’t want Rikki to lose that number either.” and I knew it was about a song. so cool. it’s so awesome how music can have such an impact on us.

    • Hey Christina. I knew that would happen and was OK/not OK with it 🙂 I figured everyone would figure it out quick enough!

  5. Playing the tune as I write this – thank you Jen for always inspiring me with music. And your writing is damn good too – great post, my friend.

  6. Love Steely Dan, and I like the way you told the story of how the song captured you as a young girl. It’s all about how songs first hook us, isn’t it? We never forget that moment.

  7. Look at you with your 70s headphones on, rockin’ out. So cute. Steely Dan has always been a favorite. Their songs have this timeless quality and a number of their tunes take me right back to what I was doing and where my world was at when it was on the radio back then. I could picture you in the backseat of your Dad’s car listening, looking out the window and imagining to yourself.

    • You are really right on about Steely Dan Linda, to have a band be your favorite consistently for 40 years, you have to know there’s something special!

  8. Now I have that song in my head! I can totally remember “On Top of the World” by the Carpenters as my first radio tune. I was standing in my parents’ bathroom, with my dad’s transistor radio blaring, singing along. The 70s were some pretty damn good times. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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