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Did you have a change of heart?

Steely Dan's biggest hit took a "riff-off" from Horace Silver.
Steely Dan's biggest hit took a "riff-off" from Horace Silver.
Original Cover: ABC Records

Record single by Steely Dan: "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (1974)

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Here’s why this song should be in your collection!

Ever since “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” became a Top Five hit for Steely Dan in 1974, music fans and critics have been speculating about the song’s meaning. The lyrics certainly leave plenty of room for interpretation.

One popular version suggests that Rikki has been introduced to some serious drug users: “number” was an alternate slang for joint, a marijuana cigarette. It’s the only one you own/You might use it if you feel better/When you get home.

Another one claims that Rikki is being invited to participate in just one more swingers party: I have a friend in town, he’s heard your name/We could go out driving on Slow Hand Row.

Yet another one asserts that Rikki is actually Richard; he is being advised to stay in touch while he works through that confusion about his sexual identity: You tell yourself you’re not my kind/but you don’t even know your mind.

And you could have a change of heart! Explanations by Becker and Fagan have not settled the matter. “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” is the biggest and best-known track on the album Pretzel Logic. It is available in CD and MP3 format from major vendors. Please consider purchasing it from a local independent record store.

Here’s an interesting fact!

Becker and Fagan were avid jazz fans. “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” brazenly samples the signature piano riff from “Song For My Father” by Horace Silver. Silver died in June 2014.