Black Cow

Album: Aja (1977)
Play Video
  • In the corner of my eye
    I saw you in Rudy's
    You were very high
    You were high
    It was a cryin' disgrace
    They saw your face

    On the counter by your keys
    Was a book of numbers and your remedies
    One of these surely will screen out the sorrow
    But where are you tomorrow

    I can't cry anymore
    While you run around
    Break away
    Just when it seems so clear
    That it's over now
    Drink your big black cow
    And get out of here

    Down to Greene Street
    There you go
    Lookin' so outrageous
    And they tell you so
    You should know
    How all the pros play the game
    You change your name

    Like a gangster on the run
    You will stagger homeward to your precious one
    I'm the one who must make everything right
    Talk it out till daylight

    I don't care anymore
    While you run around
    Break away
    Just when it seems so clear
    That it's over now
    Drink your big black cow
    And get out of here

    I can't cry anymore
    While you run around
    Break away
    Just when it seems so clear
    That it's over now
    Drink your big black cow
    And get out of here Writer/s: DONALD JAY FAGEN, WALTER CARL BECKER
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 11

  • Cole from OklahomaIt’s pretty easy to see that it’s about his ex-girlfriend who probably used to go out without him, get drunk/high, and screw around on him which is probably why they’re no longer together. Despite her behavior, he still cared enough about her to make sure she was ok and check on her periodically, but every time he does, she just continues further on her downward spiral of substance abuse and promiscuity. It breaks his heart to see her do this to herself, but he knows that she’ll just continue to hurt and disappoint him with her antics. So he’s telling her that he can’t do it anymore, he’s cutting off his feelings for her and removing her from his life.
  • Louis from AlabamaVictor Feldman played the vibraphone, not a Fender Rhodes piano. Fagen even said so in the VH1 video about this great album.
  • King Of The Mo0n from Big Bend NpAlthough I consider myself mostly a beer and whiskey man, these days, I would most certainly like to try this seemingly delectable beverage, this Black Cow!!!
  • Bb_in_ga from GeorgiaBlack Cow is a drink - nothing mystical, Fagen sings "drink your big Black Cow & get out of here..." Originally the drink was based on Root Beer & ice cream. There are alcoholic versions too.
  • Larry from Los AngelesRudy's is definitely not a soda fountain. Rudy's is a dive bar in Hell's Kitchen, 627 9th Ave., New York. Becker and Fagan used to hangout there in the 1970's when they had cheap drinks, free hot dogs, and jazz on the jukebox. Now, they still have cheap drinks, and free hot dogs, but the jazz has been replaced by rock and roll. You can't miss the place. They have a statue of a pig out front. Also, the Black Cow in the song refers to an adult beverage made with Kahlua, half-and-half, and Coca-Cola, or evaporated milk, root beer, and bourbon... sometimes with a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce on top! It's usually a drink women order... just like in the song.
  • Bill from DallasI have always loved this song. I think before they released this song this was an example of a trendy drink at the time, a black cow, and the guy who is the singer is finally fed up with the BS of the girlfriend and he finally tells her, who is a player and superficial, just take your stupid trendy drink and get out of my face! It really makes you feel good, to finally step up and say enough of all your crap!
  • Patrick from OrlandoFunny...I've always loved and admired this song. The groove, the vocals and horns...I just love it. And thought for a long, long time about the "Black Cow" reference and what it may be. Given Steely Dan's penchant for lyrical wizardry and double entendre, its easy to search for the complexity in what they may be singing about. My own interpretation, similar to the scene one of the other commentators made, is I see a "pimp"-like personality (dressed outrageously and strutting down Greene St.) who is a straight up hustler and game runner...he's probably got a habit or two and his old lady is just fed up with it. The Black Cow is actually Schlitz Malt Liquor (think Billy Dee Williams here) and his girl is basically telling him to finish your beer and get the hell outta here. So the song is being sung from the perspective of the fed up girlfriend.
  • Mvantryke from CharlotteThe scene I see in my dark mind: She's a young (barely legal?), drug-addled, cute, petite, sexy, much-sought-after hipstress. He now realizes that she sees him as just another fawning admirer. Their relationship has crashed out. He is angry and wounded; she, not so much. "Another black cow with something extra, please."
  • Ira from San Francisco, CaThe subject matter of this song is self-evident: a man has had enough of his philandering, drug-addled girlfriend. My only question has always been whether there's a racial element, that the woman has taken a black lover, (assumed by the narrator to be "big"). Otherwise the title/metaphor is pretty random, no? Fagen and Becker don't say this in the "Making of Aja" documentary, but why would they?
  • Steve from Chino Hills, CaA "Black Cow" for children is a root beer float. As someone mentioned elsewhere on the internet " a black cow the Steely Dan way

    2 shots of Kahlua (the Dude abides)

    2 shots of half n’ half

    3 shots of cola

    4 incendiary missives about society?"

    To me Black Cow always felt like it was about dumping a troubled woman at a bar in a very dismissive way. Anybody who has dated someone really good looking, someone outside your league can relate to the lyrics. You have more emotional capital in the relationship than they do. But after a while when your street cred is dropping and your self-esteem has been battered enough you finally have to call it quits.
  • Simon from Atlanta, GaI always understood the song being about realizing that he couldn't go on in his realtionship.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Chris Fehn of Slipknot

Chris Fehn of SlipknotSongwriter Interviews

A drummer for one of the most successful metal bands of the last decade, Chris talks about what it's like writing and performing with Slipknot. Metal-neck is a factor.

History Of Rock

History Of RockSong Writing

An interview with Dr. John Covach, music professor at the University of Rochester whose free online courses have become wildly popular.

The Real Nick Drake

The Real Nick DrakeSong Writing

The head of Drake's estate shares his insights on the late folk singer's life and music.

Gavin Rossdale of Bush

Gavin Rossdale of BushSongwriter Interviews

On the "schizoid element" of his lyrics, and a famous line from "Everything Zen."

James Bond Theme Songs

James Bond Theme SongsMusic Quiz

How well do you know the 007 theme songs?

Second Wind Songs

Second Wind SongsSong Writing

Some songs get a second life when they find a new audience through a movie, commercial, TV show, or even the Internet.