Starting a plan with Steely Dan and ‘Louie, Louie’


Steely Dan contemplating legal action against Tom and friends (joke!)

Steely Dan contemplating legal action against Tom and friends (joke!)

Pop Machine covering Steely Dan attempting to do ‘Louie, Louie’ –
Mouseover to play, right click to download


A few months ago, I finally sent a fan letter to Steely Dan. I haven’t received a response, nor do I expect to, but that’s not what the letter was about.


It was about actually doing things that you have the impulse to do, and following through. It’s a new path I’m trying to accomplish, since so many things have been on the back burner for years, I’m actually attempting to clear some of those projects out and make them a reality. Since the volume can be a little overwhelming at times, I’m going to start small.

Some background – on a trip out to LA, my wife and I visited with Scott and Al and Scott from the band ‘Pop Machine‘. We hit the recording studio and the local hangouts and one of the conversations we had was about Steely Dan. I somehow got a copy of some sheet music for Aja, and in the forward, it mentioned how Steely Dan got their classic ‘sound’. They decided to write their songs in only one key, and an odd one at that. Dm7.

If you ever pull up a guitar and try that scale, you can see it’s melodic, but it’s a different progression that you’re used to – and has a unique sound you can’t quite place, but you know it when you hear it. That’s how you can tell a Becker/Fagan song, even if they’re solo or together.

So – I bring up that fact, and it gets Al’s mind thinking. What’s the one song that Steely Dan would never do, and then arrange the song as if they had written it. He settled on ‘Louie, Louie’.

Al took the riff from ‘Do it again’, and tweaked it with an island flair. Then they put the tune on one of their compilation cassettes sent out to friends of Pop Machine, and it sat in an archive for 16 years.

Fast Forward to 2008 – I connected with Al after a decade or so of occasional e-mails this spring, and stumbled upon his archive music project ‘The 365 Music Project‘ – quite the accomplishment. I came across the song, and always wondered how the guys from Steely Dan would react when they heard it, but forgot about it. So I decided to try and find out. 

Using our pal the internet, I tracked down their web site, and I think I’ve send them this letter. I have no idea if they’ve actually read it, but it’d be cool to find out the rest of the story….

—–Original Message—–

From: Tom Giarrosso
Sent: Jun 26, 2008 7:27 AM
Subject: Interesting SD cover of Louie Louie you should get a laugh out of…

Hi –

 I’m friends with a band called Pop Machine – it’s  a group from
our old Syracuse University days 25 years ago… one of the member,
Allan Morgan, decided to do an experiment, and ended up posting his
old version of a SD inspired Louie Louie. Here’s the link to his ‘Song
a day for 365 days’ experiment. It’s worth a chuckle. It’ one of those
things that I always thought it might be cool for SD to actually hear
it and see if they were slightly amused at a fan tribute.

My favorite of their few cover songs in they’re interpretation of
Boyce-Hart’s ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’. I’d add the url link,
but some of the filters kick out mail with more than one link.

Thanks for the great music, and sorry I missed you in Boston this
tour. Life gets in the way sometimes….

Tom Giarrosso


I’ll post any updates if The Dan responds – or if someone has a more direct e-mail to get this message to them – I’m not positive their webmaster forwards them their mail.

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6 Responses to “Starting a plan with Steely Dan and ‘Louie, Louie’”

  1. scottmercer Says:

    Great, now we are going to get a lawsuit.

    The only thing I can hope is that so much time has gone by that they wouldn’t care. Also, they realize that we personally made about 50 cents on the whole thing. But it was always a fun experiment for me to listen to.

    If anyone would like to buy a CD copy, it is available at CD Baby. Just search for Pop Machine. I believe the url is If that doesn’t work, try a search. I think we sold about 5 copies in the last 10 years.

  2. scottmercer Says:

    And yes, thanks to CD Baby, it is available on ITunes, at the link you posted above. I believe we got a lot more downloads through that, but still it only adds up to a couple hundred. ITunes does owe us about enough money to buy a nice steak dinner for all three of us. Not exactly enough to make us rich.

  3. boffoyuxdudes Says:

    I don’t think The Dan are interested in going after the nickel royalty on every one of the 14 copies of your derivative work – I thought it would be interesting to hear their take on your interpretation of the song.

  4. scottmercer Says:

    Yeah, I know, I was kidding around. I don’t think they will care.

    Yet more sarcasm that doesn’t come across on the interwebs.

  5. scottmercer Says:

    UPDATE 11/26/2008:

    I submitted this version to the mighty Eric Predohl at THE LOUIE REPORT, and he was gracious enough to declare Pop Machine’s version as LOUIE OF THE WEEK. Now we are locked into the “LouieLouie” history.

    The Louie Report started off as an offshoot of a documentary of the history of LOUIE LOUIE that this guy has been working on for like 20 years or something. He started so long ago that it predates the internet. It started off as a newsletter (I remember seeing a copy once at Tower Records…speaking of things killed by the Internet) and eventually turned into a website, then a blog.

    Eric is still working on the documentary, and it should be a panic once he finishes it. He’s got interview footage of Richard Berry, composer of the song, and he died like 15 years ago. Should be epic.

    Anyway, check out the website, it’s quite an amazing delve into one little corner of pop music history, which manages to be at the same time incredibly specific (to a song, to a place, to a time) and at the very same time, amazingly universal. Just the range of artists that have covered LL alone could make up a history of popular music.

    Anyway, I have gone on far too long, but do check it out.

  6. Pop Machine - Still getting Awards 17 years later! « Boffoyuxdudes’s Weblog Says:

    […] linked back to the BYD Blog here…  although Pop Machine never did a video for Louie, Louie, here’s another classic from […]

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