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