Show Biz Kids

Album: Countdown To Ecstasy (1973)
Charted: 61
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • The repeated refrain sung by the female backing singers says, "You go to Lost Wages, Lost Wages," sung to sound vaguely like "Las Vegas." It was inspired by a joke from comedian Lenny Bruce, who was a major influence on the band's lyrical outlook. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    James - Lexington, KY

Comments: 30

  • Mary from Perrysburg, OhioSome of the backup singers are singing “go to Las Vegas” while at the same time others are singing “oh the lost wages.”
  • Om from A TreadmillThey were singing about kids like my mom. Jorja. The name I am yelling at the end of the song. I am uncompensated talent IMO. Her life went to hell as the love dream of the 60's collapsed. It's a very deep and heavy story. Notice, I'm not screaming for dad. He split when I was not even 2. We had reconciled but he just died in a fire. The band would have remembered Jorja. She was it. The goddess social guru of all loving innovation for the planet that 'could' be. And she got ground down under polyester smiles and coke wars. Living in her van... disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 1989.
    Hollywood kids were everything everyone else is. They just do it differently.
  • Stuart from Wales, UkSuper Furry Animals use this in their song 'The man don't give a f--k'. Great tune, and Band.
  • Heavymetalhettel from FloridaThanks for the clarification! I had always thought “lost wages” was being said, but it made no sense to me to say “ go to lost wages”. I was watching an episode of th LA detective series, “Bosch” , and one of the detectives mentioned lost wages, in a referential way that got me curious. the Lenny Bruce angle explains it all. Love everything the Dan and Fagen have ever done!
  • Chris from Potters Bar, UkThe background chorus sounds to me like 'You know they're not sweeties!' , a reference to popping pills that are expensive to buy.
  • Reid Eisenberg from Bronx, NyUpon a close listen to the repeating vamp, widely accepted to be "Lost Wages," one may notice that they are actually saying "Lots Wages." The "t," an alveolar plosive, is definitely heard before the "s," a voiceless alveolar fricative. Listen and you will hear this. Whether there is meaning to this – referring to lots (as in drawing lots), or Lot's (the guy in the bible) I don't know. It might also simply be a technique to ease the flow of the lyrics – "lots" flows better than "lost," and has a more crisp and percussive feel to it. You may notice other examples where pop singers do this sometimes.
  • Tim Markin from Erie PaI think the line “Show Business Kids making movies of themselves, y’know they do t give a f*** ‘bout anybody else” sounds very 2020 with kids today making their own TikTok and YouTube videos...and the self centeredness of the social media age.
  • Laurence from ChicagoWhile El Supremo is the name of a very fancy and expensive cigar, I believe "I detect the El Supremo from the room at the top of the stairs" is referring to the smell of high quality reefer. They were big fans of it. I have heard many New Yorkers use the same reference in this context, also.
  • Jason from BostonSaw this on jeopardy to night

    Lost Wages
    Perjorative name for Las Vegas, Nevada, due to the tendency of one to lose money in gambling.
  • Chris from AustraliaAfter a lot of listening the answer is that the chorus sings three versions.
    Los Vegas
    Lost Wages
    And Lot's Wages (as Mike of London so wisely pointed out).
    Gosh what a great song from a very great band.
  • Chuck from MarylandDoes anyone know who the ladies are doing background vocals?
  • Tom from Atlanta, GaAccording to the transcripts of a BBC interview in March of 2000 the following question was asked and answered by Walter Becker:

    John Holland: Do the backing singers in Show Biz Kids sing both 'Go to Las Vegas' AND 'Go to Lost Wages'?
    Walter: Actually they are saying "Go to Las Vegas" but they are mispronouncing it in the way that Lenny Bruce used to mispronounce on purpose, saying "lost wages".
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaI used to think they were singing "blown a life's wages," to mock the wealth-inequity and pretentious behavior of rich Hollywood people filming themselves while others slaved at work or starved. One mansion purchase could easily surpass the life's wages of a regular worker.
  • Daniel from Arcata, CaSorry I forgot to include that the interview was done on the BBC. BBC shat on-line march 04,2000
  • Daniel from Arcata, CaThere is an interview that Becker and Fagen,in a rare moment explain the chorus to "show biz kids" and they state that the back up singers are saying Las Vegas but in some lines the mispronounced it. they left it in.
  • Jim from Modesto, CaWe all love to interject our opinions and made-up stories here and forget the beauty that is this song. So well balanced and infectiously upbeat. All I care is that Steely Dan are one of the best songwriters/songmakers ever... and I still have good ears in which to listen to them with.
  • Rich from Hickory, NcGood observation Tony. Regardless of all the theories, etc. wouldn't life have been so much "less" without SD? Yes, they may have been colossal arrogant *******s, but they were (are) also two of the greatest lyricists/musicians ever. For a really cool take on "Show Bix Kids", check out Rickie Lee Jones' version. Peace
  • Mike from London, United KingdomMajor missing of a major point.....'Lots wages....old testament Lots wages was to see his wife turned into a pillar of salt..they were told to flee Soddom/Gommorah...and under no circumstances to turn around to look at the doomed city....
  • Luis from New Orleans, LaThe line: "I detect the El Supremo / from the room at the top of the stairs," refers to an expensive cigar from the Doninican Republic. See: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/12/magazine/the-mark-of-el-supremo.html?pagewanted=all
  • John from Wilmington, NcThe lyric is: "They got the booze they need." and not ..."and the Eagles." Steelydan.com has all of the lyrics posted.
  • Tim from Gattysburg, PaI've often wondered if "El Supremo" is a reference to the antagonist in Horatio Hornblower.
  • Rick from Plainwell,mich, MiThe Eagles are not referenced on Show Biz Kids as a previous poster stated,wearing my Steely Dan tee as I write--El Supremo
  • Paige from Crestline, CaI don't know exactly why, but I'm drawn back to this song over and over again. Maybe it's the driving sound. Great song by one of the most under-rated non-bands of all time.
  • Tim from Denver, CoThe line "We got booze and the Eagles, all that money can buy" (along with line "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening from "Everything You Did) inspired Don Henley to write the line "Stab it with their steely knives..." for Hotel California.
  • Mike from Stratford, CtA co-worker years ago told me (not sure if he heard or his guess) that it was about Hollywood kids making porn movies. Could be I spose
  • Citizensage from Khatru, OtherI think she is yelling "Donald" right around 4:29.
  • Bryan from Morgantown, KyThat's Rick Derringer on guitar...
  • Scott from Palm Desert, CaMy friend's sister had this L.P when I was 13. I loved it then and still love it now. Steely Dan is one of the top rock bands of all-time.
  • Tony from Vero Beach, FlI always found it interesting that it only took 'til the 2nd album for Fagen/Becker to get self-referential... ("they got the 'Steely Dan' T-shirts...")
  • Mark from London, EnglandThe line "He don't give a f**k about anybody else" was sampled many times for the Super Furry Animals song The Man Don't Give A F**K. Needless to say, it didn't get much airplay in the UK but still charted!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

George Clinton

George ClintonSongwriter Interviews

When you free your mind, your ass may follow, but you have to make sure someone else doesn't program it while it's wide open.

Divided Souls: Musical Alter Egos

Divided Souls: Musical Alter EgosSong Writing

Long before Eminem, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj created alternate personas, David Bowie, Bono, Joni Mitchell and even Hank Williams took on characters.

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")Song Writing

Wes Edwards takes us behind the scenes of videos he shot for Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Chase Bryant. The train was real - the airplane was not.

The 10 Bands Most Like Spinal Tap

The 10 Bands Most Like Spinal TapSong Writing

Based on criteria like girlfriend tension, stage mishaps and drummer turnover, these are the 10 bands most like Spinal Tap.

Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots

Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple PilotsSongwriter Interviews

Stone Temple Pilots bass player Robert DeLeo names the songs that have most connected with fans and tells the stories behind tracks from their Tiny Music album.

Rick Springfield

Rick SpringfieldSongwriter Interviews

Rick has a surprising dark side, a strong feminine side and, in a certain TV show, a naked backside. But he still hasn't found Jessie's Girl.