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My Old School by Steely Dan

Album: Countdown To EcstasyReleased: 1973Charted:
  • The "Old School" referred to in this song is Bard College in Annendale, New York, where Donald Fagen and Walter Becker met. The song is at least partially inspired by an event that occurred at Bard, where both Becker and Fagen, along with their girlfriends, were arrested in a pot raid on a party that was orchestrated by an ambitious young District Attorney named G. Gordon Liddy (hence the line "Tried to warn ya about Geno and Daddy G"). Despite the fact that California has not (yet) tumbled into the sea, both Fagen and Becker have returned to Bard. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    James - Lexington, KY
  • The "Wolverine" is the train that went to Annendale.
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Comments: 19

"The Wolverine" was a premier named train of the New York Central that ran from Grand Central Terminal in NYC to LaSalle Street Station in Chicago via Detroit until 1967. Over the years (it began service in 1916) it had various station stops but it didn't go through Annandale and thus couldn't stop there. It DID, however, stop at Rhinecliff in the 1960s, when Fagen & Becker were at Bard. Rhinecliff is just 8 miles from Annandale.Gar - Philadelphia Pa
On November 10th 1973, Steely Dan performed "My Old School" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
At the time the song was at #84 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and fifteen days later on November 25th, 1973 it peaked at #63 {for 1 week}and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
Between 1971 and 1981 the group had fifteen Top 100 records; with three making the Top 10, "Do It Again" at #6 in 1973, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" at #4 in 1974, and "Hey! Nineteen" at #10 in 1981...
They just missed having five Top 10 records when "Reeling in the Years" {1973} and "Peg" {#1978} both peaked at #11.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I'm a Bard grad. They named a couple of dorms after Fagen and Becker, but there's no train that goes to Annandale-On-Hudson. The only thing in Annandale On Hudson is Bard College, which is too tiny to be a stop. The closest station is in Rhinecliff, several miles away.Jake - Cleveland, In
Historically, the New York Central Wolverine ran from Grand Central Terminal in NY through Detroit, and on to Chicago, nad stopped in Annandale-on-Hudson. So for the time period the reference is correct. Don and Walter would have boarded at Grand Central and rode the train to college.Gatecrasher - New York, Ny
Jesus, a lot of the comments here seem only to illustrate how poorly many of the commenters listen to the music, and how ill-educated they are. The Dan would not be proud.Jim - Boston, Ma
Jami, that is not Michael McDonald. This was 1973, prior to Michael, Larry Carlton, the Brecker Bros., and Steve Gadds' affilliation with Steely Dan. If you watch the video, you can see Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter, later to become a Doobie Bro, and Elliot Randall, both who made 'Reelin' In the Years' a hit, along with 'Rikki Don't Lose that Number', 'Josie' and 'Do It, Again'. I believe Steely Dan was still touring at that time, but stopped shortly thereafter. At which time they began focusing heavily on production and began their associations with the aforementioned studio musicians, out of which came 'The Royal Scam', 'Aja', etc. Annandale Rocks, Barnaby! Ricky, Tustin, CaRichard - Tustin, Ca
I just thought the Wolverine was 'A' train, as there is the Amtrak that goes from New York City to Annandale. I believe that it hits ALL the New York (SUNY) colleges, just about, along the way. The SUNY college system is largely established along the waterways of New York due to their age and the fact that you could only get there via water at one point in time. Bard is a beautiful campus, and only a few hours from New York in the Rhinebeck area, very close to White Lake and Woodstock. Ricky, Tustin, CaRichard - Tustin, Ca
Sorry to tell all you loyal Tribesmen (and women) from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, but "My Old School" is not a reference to your alma mater. It is about Bard College, frequently referred to as "William and Mary-on-the-Hudson". Hence the shout-out to W&M.Henry - Bedrock, In
Is that Michael McDonald in the background?Jami - Redding, Ca
Although the Wolverine IS a train, it runs between Chicago and Pontiac, MI, so I don't see how Fagen et al could have been riding it to Annandale-on-Hudson. Possibly they chose it because it scanned nicely.Steve - New York, Ny
Love this song...I agree with Mike in that this song also reminds me of college...but I was in college 30 years after this song was released!Ashley - Carlisle, Pa
To be complete you need to have the single version of this as the ending is quite different to the album version!Murray - Liverpool, England, England
Great song!! Heh heh, I thought "Wolverine" was a play on "Greyhound"(bus service).Jena - Leavenworth, Ks
I always thought the line "but I can't seem to get to you through the US mail" was "but I can see they get to you through the US mail," b/c the mail is so slow. I apologize to all postal carriers ;-)

Interesting about Lyddy ... I always thought it was Annandale, Va, also, not knowing about the Bard connection.
Mike - Stratford, Ct
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. God bless.Barnaby - Annandale-on-hudson, Ny
Oleanders are flowers...Kevin - Omaha, Ne
This song reminds me of college even though I was in college 20 years after this song hahahaMike - Hueytown , Al
"Oleanders growing outside her door" refers to Fagan having the mumps while he was in school.Jay - Atlanta, Ga
I thought that this song was about Annandale, Virginia and some undisclosed but undoubtedly awful school.Darrell - Eugene, United States
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