Haitian Divorce

Album: The Royal Scam (1976)


  • You can go to Vegas for a quickie marriage, but what if you want a quickie divorce? In the early '70s, Haiti made it easy, allowing foreigners to divorce with hardly any restriction; the big sell was that only one member of the married party had to be present and request it.

    For Haiti, this was a tourism ploy, as travel agents would send Americans looking for a quick and easy divorce to the island, where they would often spend some time on a resort. In many cases, these divorces were requested so that the person could immediately get remarried - a service Haiti also provided. So it was not uncommon for a married man to show up in Haiti with his mistress, get a divorce, and marry the new girl all in the course of a weekend.
  • Donald Fagan talked about the Haitian divorce in a 1976 interview with Sounds. Said Fagen: "It's a fierce and terrible ritual. I'll tell you that. You wouldn't want your sister to have a Haitian divorce, believe me. It was the quick divorce, without too much red tape. If you can say 'incompatibility of character' in French you're as good as gold. But we added a few elements to the ceremony itself."
  • In this song, it's the woman who goes to Haiti for her divorce. She has some fun while she is there, and presumably hooks up with a local - their sex scene is implied in cinematic terms in the lines:

    Now we dolly back
    Now we fade to black

    When she returns to America, she is pregnant, as Fagen sings, "Some babies grow in a peculiar way."
  • The girl in this song drinks a zombie from a coconut shell, which at the time was a very typical island experience. A zombie is a rum-based cocktail that was popular at the time - an alternative to the piña colada.
  • Steely Dan used a talkbox on this track, which is the same processor Black Sabbath used on "Iron Man" to create the robotic sounds. In "Haitian Divorce," hired hand Dean Parks played the guitar, Walter Becker processed it though a talkbox to his specifications.

Comments: 4

  • Bnw from PortlandO.K. she's pregnant, who's is it, "Who's this kinky so and so?"
  • Kuen-wah Cheung from BrightonAlso the first Steely Dan song I ever heard. On Radio 5. Happily I managed to record it and it took me a year or so later to discover the name of the band, and then began buying their music.
  • James Watts from BarnetThe first SD song I ever heard - I was playing pool in the Plough pub near Brentwood and it blew me away - what a team!
  • Nathe from Sl,utThis is a great description. Especially for those who are too young to remember the 70’s
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