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Artist: Steely Dan
Album: Katy Lied

Who are these children
Who scheme and run wild
Who speak with their wings
And the way that they smile
What are the secrets
They trace in the sky
And why do you tremble
Each time they ride by
Throw out your gold teeth
And see how they roll
The answer they reveal
Life is unreal

Who are these strangers
Who pass through the door
Who cover your action
And go you one more
If you're feeling lucky
You best not refuse
It's your game the rules
Are your own win or lose



by Dave Metzger on 12/3/2010 9:56pm
I can see Fagen and Becker rolling over these riffs in magnificent detail again and again as hours creep in a studio that knows neither day or night. The lyrics, like many Steely Dan songs, relate to survival and even sucess amongst the bread winners of the American social order. It's subversive amd tow-the-line all at the same time. As the teeth role, "life is unreal" really means the generations of winners and loosers is defined in the thin moments of rustling genetic dice.
by Steamdude on 4/23/2011 1:55pm
Actually, I see it as the promise of a new generation, and a warning to the old generation, and like myself, Becker and Fagen being the new generation when the song was written now hold the other end of the stick!
by TheHortisorce on 6/10/2011 10:54am
So what are life's chances? "You best not refuse." Certainly, Life is unreal, because its your cosciousness that's eternal. Uncounscious until universal consciousness dawns, I am not alone in finding what I need through song. My closest analogy to the first verse is last weeks experience of 3 fighter jets passing over low like scheming wild children. The win or loose vibe in those few seconds left me comprehending how in the game of life "all gold is lifeless" (I-Ching by H. C. Ni) - which is how I interpret the second verse. Steely Dan was asking me to choose a scheming authority gathering more lifelessness or a peaceful sharing outliving earthly life. So much more important is the voice YOU choose to hear and act on daily when you listen to your music. Ho!
by AspiringMusician on 9/4/2011 12:35am
This is the only Steely Dan untainted by any cynicism. It has so much less dissonance, tonally and lyrically. The point of the song, to me, is really leaning not to be afraid of those "crazy" people who live their lives the way they want to, and hold the "secrets they trace in the sky" learn to throw out the gold, to not need so much schlock because none of it's real. Life is a game, and you make your own rules, with a glorious sense of existentialism and it's beautiful. No other Steely Dan song is so optimistic.
by Steely Dan on 1/17/2013 12:25pm
They are not cynical, SD are satirists, they are writing songs from the POV of various people... like actors. The songs are NOT autobiographical...
by Stevart on 12/31/2013 5:45am
"Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die." Isaiah 22:13

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