The Fez

Album: The Royal Scam (1976)
Charted: 59

Songfacts®:

  • This is the only Steely Dan song with a third credited writer, Paul Griffin, who also plays organ on the song. On a BBC Online chat March 4, 2000, Donald Fagen said, "The Fez was recorded using a rhythm chart but there were a few bars missing and Paul Griffin, the keyboard player on the day, came up with a nice little melody, so we felt we should include him in the writer credits."
  • A Fez is a kind of hat popular in Turkey and Morocco. The lyrics don't appear to have a deep meaning.

Comments: 18

  • GreenyThe Fez is a warning to always use a condom
  • James from MississippiThe song was actually written after the group Steely Dan was staying at a Hotel where a Shriner Convention was being held. They saw the partying Shriner's and wrote the song about partying with the Shriner's symbol The Fez !
  • Joe from Seattle, Washington, UsaI want to do a music video of this with images of Matt Smith's Doctor Who wearing his fez.
  • Linda from UsThis song was written in 1976. There was no AIDS in 1976 and straight people didn't even think about "safe sex" until the mid-eighties. Also, Steely Dan's whole band persona is based on recklessness and debauchery so a song about safe sex would be really out of character for them.
  • Mvantryke from CharlotteWhile I do believe that the fez being referenced in the song is a clever metaphor for a condom/safe sex, envisioning the woman demanding that her man wear and actual fez during sex is my surreal image `a la 'Blue Velvet'. The 'Dan always deliver on many levels.
  • Pamela from OaklandMy friend Bryce has a theory: the word "faisson" in French means "the ability to do (something)." It would be pronounced exactly like "fez on." So he says it's a bi-lingual pun. I guess if it was a Spanish-English joke, it would be "never gonna do it without your powder. (poder)" I think it's a great theory, and the kind of sophisticated joke that those guys would perpetrate. Always wanted to write and ask him if Bryce is right.
  • Adam from RiIt's very simple. The song is about safe sex. The fez is a condom, and the singer will not have sex without it. "I want to be your holy man" means that he wants her to scream his name at the height of passion.
  • Tony from Vancouver, BcWhen I started listening to Steely Dan at about 13 yrs. of age,I paid little attention to the lyrics--I knew they were cryptic and bizarre,and even haunting in a peripheral kinda way.As the years went by,and having read "Naked Lunch",which features a dildo named "Steely Dan",I realized that in connection with the lyrics from "Gaucho"(which are,in my opinion,the weirdest ever--as a theatrical situation they remind me a lot of the Mart Crowley/William Friedkin film "The Boys In The Band")plus a few double entendres and puns that I might have missed,that both Becker and Fagen were gay(not that there's anything wrong with that!!),or that just one of them was,or they swung,or just one swung,or just the one who wrote the lyrics for those tunes was gay or bi or whatever.I know Fagen has been(faithfully?)married to singer Libby Titus for years,and no info on Becker's love life seems available.To me,it's part of the whole mystique of Steely Dan--there's an anonymity,a dark privacy,that flies in the face of celebrity,and if your musical taste appreciates super-original funky/pop/jazz-fusion,then it's the music that is the entity--the mystery behind it...well,it's always gonna be one.It's possible that all the best art through the ages has to contain something unknown yet familiar.
  • Bill from Pensacola, FlI always felt the keyboard parts of this song were inspired a little by Quincy Jones soundtrack to the movie The Anderson Tapes, for what ever reason one or the other playing triggers a connection between them in my mind.
  • Defn from Newcastle-upon-tyne, United KingdomIt's so funny that whener i play this song with people in the car, they are always so bewildered that it doesn't go into I Know Where Its At by All Saints... Some people are such musical philistines!
  • Tim from La Grange, Txpreaching about safe sex in a time when no one gave a damn about safe sex.need proof of that? look no further than "studio 54"
  • Michael from Sydney, AustraliaYes the fez is the euphemistic condom I heard Donald Fagen confirm it in a Interview once.
  • Andy from Rockaway , NyDon't leave home without em!!!
    A FEZ that is.
  • Evan from Los Angeles, CaConsider the fact that it's a double entendre:
    "A double entendre is a figure of speech similar to the pun, in which a spoken phrase can be understood in either of two ways. This can be as simple as a phrase which has two mutually exclusive meanings, and is thus a clever play on words(wikipedia)" The first level is about the holy hat, with the deeper meaning about condoms and safe sex. Note that condoms are also referred to as hats(thus the 'punniness'). This elucidates the brilliance characteristic of Steely Dan's lyrics - the ability to subtly communicate on multiple levels.
  • Steve from Boston, United StatesCasey...Shame on you, if you are true fan of the "Dan", then you would know the "Fez" is about using a condom, they being very tongue in cheek...Q. to you- What do you think "Everyones Gone To The Movies" is about?
  • Bryan from Atlanta, GaThe word "Fez" is used quite cleverly as a euphemism for a condom. "You're never gonna do it without the Fez on" means you're not going to get the girl if you don't use a condom for protection. "I want to be your holy man" is obviously the guy telling the girl he does have a condom, and he wants to go to bed with her.
  • Casey from Salisbury, NyThe fez cap is of Greek origin and was worn by many different religious and ethnic groups in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. That's what he means when he says "I want to be your holy man". Ignore the comment, the guy doesn't have a clue but maybe he'll get one once he goes to clue school.
  • Jack from Boston, MaIt's actually about safe-sex practices. The fez is a condom.
see more comments

Eric BurdonSongwriter Interviews

The renown rock singer talks about "The House of the Rising Sun" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."

Loudon Wainwright IIISongwriter Interviews

"Dead Skunk" became a stinker for Loudon when he felt pressure to make another hit - his latest songs deal with mortality, his son Rufus, and picking up poop.

90210 to Buffy to Glee: How Songs Transformed TVSong Writing

Shows like Dawson's Creek, Grey's Anatomy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed the way songs were heard on TV, and produced some hits in the process.

Todd RundgrenSongwriter Interviews

Todd Rundgren explains why he avoids "Hello It's Me," and what it was like producing Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album.

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"They're Playing My Song

A song he wrote and recorded from "sheer spiritual inspiration," Allen's didn't think "Southern Nights" had hit potential until Glen Campbell took it to #1 two years later.

Yacht Rock!Song Writing

A scholarly analysis of yacht rock favorites ("Steal Away," "Baker Street"...) with a member of the leading YR cover band.