To prepare for their current tour, Steely Dan had to relearn their own music.
The band will perform one of three albums — "Aja," "Gaucho" or "The Royal Scam" — in its entirety on select dates of their Rent Party tour. On other dates, they will play requests that fans submit through their Web site. That means Steely Dan had to do some homework.
"We had to learn a whole bunch of stuff we haven't been doing, just trying to guess what people might vote for," singer Donald Fagen said.
Guitarist Walter Becker found the idea intriguing because some of the songs they had never performed live.
"We had stopped performing in the '70s when we recorded these three albums, so we never really went out to perform the tunes from these three albums," Becker said.
Fans can choose from several Steely Dan tracks, but it's no time to play stump-the-band.
"They're only able to request Steely Dan songs from a menu of choices that has maybe 50 tunes on it," Becker said. "Not knowing in advance what would be the most popular, what we'd end up playing, we couldn't prepare all of the songs from all of the albums."
The band expects fans will want the hits, such as "Hey Nineteen," "Josie" and "Do It Again." That's where they try to make things interesting.
"With songs that we feel have dated, and stuff like that, we often change the arrangements to keep ourselves fresh," Fagen said. "We have a new arrangement this year of 'Reelin' in the Years' that so far the audience seems to really like."
The fans show their appreciation in return, and not just with applause.
"I've met many parents of Ajas and Josies over the years. It's very flattering," Fagen said.