It was in September 1977 when Steely Dan released the band's iconic sixth album, Aja. The first single from the LP, "Peg," was an absolute hit, flirting with the top 10 when it peaked at #11 in March 1978.
The second single from Aja, "Deacon Blues," also had a formidable chart run. Released in March 1978, it climbed as high as #19 for the week of June 10, 1978. The #1 song in America that week: Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta with "You're the One That I Want" from the Grease soundtrack.
"The protagonist is not a musician, he just sort of imagines that would be one of the mythic forms of loser-dom to which he might aspire. And who's to say that he's not right?," is how songwriter Donald Fagen summed it for the British doc, Classic Albums. "'Deacon Blues' is about as close to autobiography as our tunes get. We were both kids who grew up in the suburbs, we both felt fairly alienated. Like a lot of kids in the '50s, we were looking for some kind of alternative culture, an escape from where we found ourselves."
Fagen elaborated on the song's reference to the Alabama football team during an interview with Rolling Stone: "Walter and I had been working on that song at a house in Malibu. I played him that line, and he said, 'You mean it's like, 'They call these cracker a--holes this grandiose name like the Crimson Tide, and I'm this loser, so they call me this other grandiose name, Deacon Blues?' and I said 'Yeah!' He said, 'Cool, let's finish it.'"