Album: Aja (1977)
Charted: 11
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  • This song is about an aspiring actress, with the director/photographer promising her a big break. Whether he's leading her on or not is unknown, and given where the band got its name, you can't help but wonder what kind of actress Peg is. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
  • Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan are very particular in their choice of musicians, and they picked some good ones for this: Michael McDonald sang backing vocals on this song, and Jay Graydon played the guitar solo. McDonald is famous for his work with The Doobie Brothers and as a solo artist, and Graydon is a very successful producer and songwriter in addition to his work as a guitarist. According to Graydon, Becker and Fagen brought in seven or eight guitarists to try the solo, and worked him for about six hours until he got it right.

    Years later when Graydon produced artists like The Manhattan Transfer, Al Jarreau and George Benson, he was very particular and worked them hard to get the desired sound. Working with the egos and the business side of the music industry wore on Graydon, and he stopped working in the late '80s, something he could afford since he continued to receive songwriting royalties and kept his expenses in check. In 2008, he teamed up with ace songwriter Randy Goodrum to form the band JaR, whose first album, Scene 29, has a Steely Dan feel. Says Graydon: "It's like Steely Dan, because of the following: the lyrics are very intelligent with really cool ideas. The chord changes are very melodic, hinging on jazz sometimes. Melodies are memorable. It's intelligent West Coast pop music. I think it's the best record I've ever been involved with. We spent two years on this, and I didn't mind any minute of it. I couldn't wait to get in the studio every night." (read more in our interview with Jay Graydon)
  • Michael McDonald sang backup on this track along with Paul Griffin; Donald Fagen sang lead. The other credits are:

    Bass: Chuck Rainey
    Drums: Rick Marotta
    Clavinet: Don Grolnick
    Electric Piano: Paul Griffin
    Guitar: Steve Khan
    Guitar Solo: Jay Graydon
    Lyricon: Tom Scott
    Percussion: Gary Coleman, Victor Feldman
  • De La Soul sampled the refrain "I know I love you better" on their 1989 track "Eye Know." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Phil - Liverpool, England

Comments: 41

  • John S from Knox, InPeggy Ann Gardner played Nanny in the 1954 movie, Black Widow. The lyrics seem to match the plot, which is dark. But is about an aspiring actresses insinuating herself into the life of a producer.
  • Jim Swo from United StatesThere was an actress that played Betsy Boldface on the Batman TV series. Her name was Peg. She was a villain that helped The Riddler, but when she smiled for the camera, you would like her character better. Sadly, she, as well as her only daughter, died young.
  • Columnatedruins from Studio CNope. Not a suicidal B-lister, not a pornstar... Just a name that fit a dotted halfnote. A fictitious character on the game track, viewed by someone who knew her when. *Chef's kiss*
  • Rob from Roche Harbor Whenever I sang Peg in karaoke when I went to a bar in Delaware, I would remix the lyrics and say “It’s my favorite porno movie” instead of foreign movie... I was blessed to find an Aunt Peg tape of my Uncle’s when I was a young teen. I really love the music on it and I wish I could find it. The intro/outro and the shower masturbation scene songs are the best.
  • Matt from South FloridaAccording to Donald Fagen this song is about a fictitious starlet, with the story being told from the perspective of an ex-boyfriend watching her rise to stardom. The name Peg was picked because it was a short quick punchy name, and has nothing to do with aunt peg or actresses throwing themselves off signs or any actual people at all. I too was a little disappointed as I had heard a mishmash of both those rumors, that the song was about an aspiring actress who turned to porn and threw herself off the hollywood sign, which made the song kind of dark, but also not true. Search for a wall street journal interview, he goes into detail.
  • Don Berry from MissouriI believe "Peg" may have been inspired by the heartbreaking story of an aspiring young British actress, Peg Entwistle, who jumped to her death from the "H" on the Hollywood sign on September 16, 1932.
  • Napa Lawyer from Napa, CaliforniaKarlo, Check the lyrics. They say picture, not pinshot.
  • Napa Lawyer from Napa, CaliforniaI think that this song is written by a friend who tried to get in touch with Peg and got back a packaged fan reply with a blued photo and a stock fan letter. The writer is ticked off because now Peg is blowing him off because she has become famous. He is telling her that her fame is sure to fade and she'll regret the way she treated him, but I don't know what her favorite foreign movie was.
  • Karlo from GuamThis song is about the pornstar Juliette Anderson aka Aunt Peg. Pinshots " I like your pinshot. I keep it with your letter " were the small photos pornographs actresses sent to fans.
    The term isn't even relevant to the time of Margaret Entwistle. Neither is the rest of the song unless you are stretching.
  • Steve from MassachusettsOne person here thinks this song is annoying. Wow - how unaware can you be? This song has fantastic structure, chord progressions and performances. It is one of the best Steely Dan songs and that is saying a lot.
  • Fact Checker from EarthPhil Hartman DID NOT design this album cover, nor did he have anything to do with it whatsoever..The cover photo by Hideki Fujii features Japanese model and actress Sayoko Yamaguchi and was designed by Patricia Mitsui and Geoff Westen; inside photos were taken by Walter Becker and Dorothy A. White. 
  • K White from South Brunswick My oldest sister Peggy graduated the year behind Don in SB High School. My other sisters convinced me for years that the song was written about her and I believed it! Lol! BTW What does Harry the Horse mean?
  • Markantney from BiloxeJun 2017, One of those songs I liked as a kid but grew to really love as an adult. I was young teen when I first heard it around 1978 or so. And the riffing in the background vocals towards the end does it for me. Also, great song to play if you're driving on the highway, especially if you getting drowsy. It perks me up everytime and I usually replay it a time or two.
  • Paul Hartford from UkIn the UK this song was also sampled by the BBC for their football (no, not NFL) highlights programme on Sunday nights!
  • Frank from Houston, TxI first heard this song in 1990 through the De La Soul sample on "Eye Know". I recognized the sample as a 70's tune I might have heard in my uncle's car as he was into more than just R&B. I stumbled upon a vintage record shop in Austin, TX in 1992 and really got introduced to Steely Dan at that point. Peg is one of just a few dozen perfect lyrical songs of all time - just the way it is!
  • Bmn from Hisuan, ArgentinaGoodness, guys, why be so negative? Even if Fagan and Becker did write it with such seamy stuff in mind, we can listen to and enjoy it any way we wish... A song is just a song.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxAnnoying song...too repetitive. I got sick of hearing about "her favorite foreign movie."
  • Mark from Palm Harbor, FlAja was to me like Sgt. Peppers was to a previous generation. I listened to it in its entirety at least once a day for months on end after it came out.
    The Peg lyrics are vintage SD; vague, obscure and sarcastic. But I think at least some things here are clear in their intent.
    Like many others here, I think it is about a nude pin-up model and/or porno actress...
    "I like your picture, I keep it with your letter", the letter being the bio info on the back of a playmate picture foldout.
  • Kacy from Indianapolis, InThis song was actually written about my aunt!
  • Tom from Philadelphia, PaI always thought it was about Aunt Peg...
  • Spence from Brooklyn, NyI heard a rumor that Will Lee was recording on the Aja album and quit in the middle of production due to creative differences with Becker and Fagen.
  • Tony from Cleveland, OhPeg is a porn actress. Blueprint Blue refers to porn movies which were also called 'Foreign' movies. The line 'I like your pin shot, I keep them with your letters' refer to pin sized pictures that actresses typically sent with production letters to adoring fans. The telling line is in the chorus 'Then the shutters falls you see it all in 3-D. Its your favorite foreign movie' The term '3-D' speaks for itself on what you're seeing.
  • Thom from L.a., CaBobb in LA, I was thinking the same: the story of young starlet Peg Entwistle who threw herself off the Hollywood sign, after her big debut. The studio hated the film, and cut most of Peg's part. What is noteworthy is that -- at the time in 1932 when she commited suicide -- the sign was then not a symbol of movies, but rather of "Hollywoodland," promoting real-estate development in the hills. So the reference to "Blueprint Blue" makes sense. The pin-up shot he keeps with "your letter" is her suicide note, found in Peg's purse and published in the local newspapers. And "it will come back to you," both a reference to the karmic retribution for her sin, and the fame that would accompany her as a result of Peg's action. Of course, favorite foreign movies are known for their tragic endings -- unlike the happy "Hollywood" ones. Would WB & DF give us a clue?
  • Jude from Limavady, Counrt Derry., IrelandI have really gotten into Steely Dan just recently, although of course I recognised the lead singer`s distinctive voice years ago, it is only now I am discovering just how many great songs they have made over the years.
  • Ian from Paddock Lake, WiIf it's true that this is about a porn actress, then the foreign movie line refers to exactly that: often foreign movies have way more sex and violence than do American ones.
  • Robert from Houston, TxChuck Rainey, who played bass on this track, was specifically told by Fagan/Becker not to slap. He felt that the rhythm on the chorus called for it however, and set himself up in the studio behind a screen and in a low chair where he couldn't be seen easily. During the chorus, he turned away slightly and slapped away.
  • Shauna from Seattle, Wa...."it's your favorite foreign movie" ??? what do you all suppose that line was about ?
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, Mithis is my favorite Steeley dan song!
  • Andy from Rockaway , NyOne of the few Dan song's that has the crowd up and dancing at there concert.
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcBecker and Fagen auditioned seven guitarists before settling on Jay Graydon to perform the solo.
  • Fredrick from Tampa, FlI was 14 years old in 1977 when Aja was released. My cousin, who was in college, tried to turn me on to his new Steely Dan album. I hated it. Like most white males growing up in the American Midwest that year, I was an obsessed Kiss fanatic. To be nice I told him some of the guitar licks were cool, which I actually thought they were. But I could not relate to any of the lyrics. He told me I would appreciate them more when I was older. I did not really become a Steely Dan fan until my mid 30's when I got some life and living under my belt. My cousin was right, each year I appreciate these incredible artists even more. Peg seems to fit the "love triangle" paradigm Fagan talked about where one person in a relationship is torn away by a particular lifestyle choice.
  • Kate from Marietta, GaThis is such a smooth groove of a song, you don't really care what it is about. Michael McDonald singing background is just icing on the cake! His soulful voice blends perfectly with the lead vocals.
  • Kevin from Syracuse, UtI am a guitarist, and in my opinion session guitarist Jay Graydon's solo from 1:46-2:15 is one of the all-time great solos. I'd place it in the top ten.
  • Jackson from Wichita, KsI think Becker and Fagan lol when they read these kinds of pages. They got the best of us sitting around trying to figure it all out. The grooves are awesome though. I'm a Dan junky. It's still best on vynal.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaCynthia, Margaret Thatcher was not prime minister in 1977.
  • Jena from Bonner Springs, KsHave you ever dusted off an ancient CD you never listened to much to begin with, popped it in, and then can't stop playing it? I've been compulsively playing my recently re-discovered "A Decade of Steely Dan", and it's given me a whole new appreciation for songs I grew up with, like this one, Deacon Blues, Rikki..., and so many others. (Even F/M has grown on me!! LOL) So Tom from Ann Arbor, I know where you are coming from. "Peg" especially intrigues me because of the implied message John from Wilmington gave. Like so many of Steely Dan's songs (so UNlike many other groups), the meanings of their songs, even their more "playful" songs such as this, are full of double entendres, leaving it to the listener to draw his/her own conclusions.
  • Cynthia from Canton, OhI was told that this song is about (then) British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
  • Joni from New York, NyThat happened to my father, Tom I've got him interested in music he never appreciated before. Def Leppard, Rainbow, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Steely Dan, etc.
  • Bobb from La, CaCouldn't Peg be Peg Entwistle - the actress who thre herself off the Hollywood sign?
  • John from Wilmington, NcThis song is about a woman who makes porn flicks.

    "done up in blueprint blue" -referring to blue movies aka porn

    "it's like a dream come true" -yeah she's in films but not the kind she really wants to be in.
  • Tom from Ann Arbor, MiThis is yet another one of those songs that I immediatly scrapped/dismissed in my late teens/twenties, that is coming back to tell me" man you didn't have very good taste when you were yonger" Har.
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