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Steely Dan - Do It Again - Lyrics Meaning

"Do It Again" was the first single ever released by the jazz-rock group known as Steely Dan. The song comes from their 1972 debut album "Can't Buy A Thrill." The single version and album version are very different. The single is edited down for radio airplay with a shorter intro/outro and two shorter instrumental sections. "Do It Again" peaked on the U.S. charts at number 6 in 1973. The song also reached number 39 on the U.K. charts. This was Steely Dan's breakthrough hit, putting them on the map in both the U.S. and U.K.

William Becker and Donald Fagan are well known for writing provocative lyrics that deal with controversial themes. Due to this reputation, many fans look deeply into the meaning of Steely Dan's lyrics. While this works for certain songs, "Do It Again" is not one of those songs. The general belief is that the lyrics, which touch upon an old time western scene, infidelity, abuse of trust, and gambling, are merely metaphoric scenarios used to describe man's complete failure to learn from past mistakes.

This general ineptitude is examined in each example. Overwhelming guilt plagues the subject of the first example. He apparently received a very lucky break with a much-needed second chance. However, he will most likely fall right into the same trap, making the same type of mistakes, acting on the same impulses without thinking of the consequences, and finding himself once again with the deck stacked against them.

The second example used in the song deals with being used by a two timing woman. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

The third scenario describes an apparent gambling problem, which represents the vices, addictions, and compulsive tendencies that someone is most likely to repeat over and over again, regardless of the trouble that they bring to themselves and their loved ones.

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