John Mulaney’s love for Steely Dan is one of the oddest and most endearing modern obsessions of our time. Whether he’s describing his parents as having a bond like Walter Becker and Donald Fagen or dragging a surprisingly game Pete Davidson to one of the band’s concerts, you’ll hardly find a more genuine fan of the 1970s rockers than Mulaney.
But Mulaney’s love of the band doesn’t just exist in his personal life. With his partner in crime, Nick Kroll, Mulaney took the pair’s Kroll Show recurring skit ‘Oh, Hello’, centred on two geriatric maniacs Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, and turned it into what might have been the most hilarious Broadway show since Avenue Q: Oh, Hello On Broadway.
Like Mulaney, Faizon and Geegland are obsessed with the dulcet tones of the Dan, and during the show, they sing what is ostensibly one of the band’s many odes to the New York City metropolitan area and substance abuse. The song even plays in full at the end of the show on the Netflix special capturing the duo’s performance fearing Steve Martin.
The only thing is that ‘Sweet Rosalie’ isn’t an actual Steely Dan song. Mulaney and Kroll wrote the song exclusively so that the memory-impaired duo of Faizon and Geegland could channel their heroes in a way that only their drug-warped minds could.
“When we were writing the first version of the show, they were on trial for the murder of someone by too much tuna and in their trial, their defence was based around the fact that they were like Steely Dan,” Kroll explained to Billboard. “And so, for some reason, we just immediately glommed on to that and then we wrote ‘Sweet Rosalie’, based on ‘FM’.”
The entire interview is a lovely geek-out over Steely Dan and their allure, but the biggest compliment that the pair got came straight from one of the members themselves. That’s because Donald Fagen caught one of the performances on Broadway and complimented the duo backstage, offering up his services.
“He came backstage afterwards and said if you guys ever need any music, my career is… and he motioned his hand going downwards,” Kroll said. “Which is hilarious because they still sell out the Beacon ten nights in a row and have Venetian residencies and Dodger Stadium. They’re doing quite well. But that to me was the highest praise that we could get was Donald Fagen was like I’ll make music with you guys.”
If ever an apt tribute to Steely Dan existed, it is in the wonderfully bizarre sounds of ‘Sweet Rosalie’ and the jilted mania of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland.