Steely Dan’s Lost 1979 Song ‘Second Arrangement’ Surfaces Online
Steely Dan’s long lost song "The Second Arrangement" has surfaced online.
The track, recorded in December 1979 while the band was laying down material for their 1980 album Gaucho, has long held a kind of mythological place among Steely Dan fans. As the story goes, the group recorded the majority of the song, with only a few simple additions needed to bring it to completion. After heading home for the night, they returned to the studio the next morning, only to discover that the "The Second Arrangement" tapes had been accidentally erased. The band tried to recreate what they’d recorded, but Donald Fagen was reportedly disappointed in the new version and decided to scrap the whole song.
In all the years since then, a studio version of "The Second Arrangement" has never been released. Bootleg editions have floated around and Steely Dan performed the song once, during a 2011 show in New York, but that has been the extent of the song’s existence… until now.
Expanding Dan, a Substack newsletter dedicated to everything Steely Dan related, has posted the complete recording of "The Second Arrangement" as it existed prior to the original tape’s erasure.
Roger Nichols, the band’s longtime engineer, made a rough mix of the track on a cassette tape – something he regularly did during his studio work with Steely Dan. Nichols, who also served as the band’s de facto historian, kept the tape along with an overwhelming amount of Steely Dan-related material. He died in 2011, and his adult daughters, Cimcie and Ashlee, took possession of his belongings.
They were already aware of "The Second Arrangement"'s history when they discovered their father’s cassette tape of the song. In 2020, Cimcie posted a picture of the tape on Facebook and was shocked by the overwhelming response it got from the band’s fans.
"Everybody was at home and saw it, and it went viral," Cimcie explained to Expanding Dan. "I actually had no idea the tape was gonna be such a big deal. I started getting hounded by Steely Dan fans. There were GIFs under my post of Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail. I was like, ‘Oh my god, what am I gonna do now?’ I was excited that people wanted to hear the tape, but I didn't want to do anything wrong. I didn't want to just get a Casio boombox and pop in the tape."
Cimcie and Ashlee took the tape to a professional recording facility that was able to extract everything from the tape, which included not only "The Second Arrangement," but also a mix of "Were You Blind That Day," the track that became "Third World Man."
You can listen to “The Second Arrangement” exclusively at the Expanding Dan site.
The cassette tape has been framed along with sheet music of "The Second Arrangement" and will be going up for auction soon. Cimcie and Ashlee are working on a documentary about their father, and proceeds from the auction will go towards production costs, as well as the money already spent on restoring and transferring the audio from the tape.