Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Katy LiedReleased: 1975Charted:
Long before the term came to denote the shopping frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving, Steely Dan released this song about the original "Black Friday," when on Friday, September 24, 1869 a failed ploy left many wealthy investors broke. The investors tried to corner the market on gold, buying as much of it as they could and driving up the price, but when the government found out, it released $4 million worth of gold into the market, driving down the price and clobbering the investors.
As for how it became a retail reference, sometime in the '60s, the term was bandied about to indicate the key day in the holiday shopping season when the stores would be "in the black," meaning making money (black ink indicates profit, red ink indicates loss).
While the song is about events in the US, it mentions a town in Australia: "Fly down to Muswellbrook."
Muswellbrook is a rural town two hours North of Sydney that is full of kangaroos (thus the line, "Nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos"). It's possible that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen selected the name of Muswellbrook from an atlas, mainly because it worked well with the next line, "I'm going to strike out all the big red words from my little black book." They also wanted a place far away from Los Angeles.
Steely Dan used various guitarists on the Katy Lied album, including Rick Derringer, Hugh McCracken and Larry Carlton. On this track, however, Walter Becker played the solo. He did it using the Fender Telecaster belonging to another guitarist who played on the album, Denny Dias. Becker used it because he liked how Dias had it set up.
This was the first of two singles released from the Katy Lied album ("Bad Sneakers," which reached #103 US was the second). Like many Steely Dan singles, it had just a modest placing on the US chart, reaching #37. This was of no concern to Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, who weren't concerned about how their singles fared. And like every Steely Dan album released before they disbanded in 1981, Katy Lied reached Gold status.