Hit Songs Deconstructed - Powerful Analytical Tools for the Music Industry

Penn's Picks: Steely Dan – Through With Buzz

Artist: Steely Dan
Song/Album: Through With Buzz / Pretzel Logic
Writer(s): Becker / Fagen
Year Released: 1974
Genre/Sub Genre: Jazz Rock

Released in 1974, Steely Dan’s critically acclaimed Pretzel Logic album yielded some of their most beloved numbers including Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Pretzel Logic, and the Penn’s Pick Through With Buzz. The album topped out at #8 on the charts and eventually went platinum.

Take Note Of This:
Just how much can you incorporate into a 1:30 song? A lot – if you’re Steely Dan.

Why it’s a “Penn’s Pick”:
What’s truly amazing about Through With Buzz is how in just 1:30 Becker and Fagen provide the listener with an amazingly complete, engaging and memorable song that encompasses a full A-B-A-B-C-A-B form. So – how did they do it?

  • The intro is short and engaging – landing at just 0:08.
  • Each verse in the song clocks in at 0:06 and is one line long, differentiated from one another by varying instrumentation (i.e. piano in the first verse and strings added to the mix in the second).
  • The chorus is short in nature as well (0:14), repeating the line “through with Buzz” twice (enhancing the memorability factor).
  • The short bridge (0:18) instantly provides the song with a variation in vibe and lyrical content – upping the engagement factor of the song.
  • The final chorus is a bit longer than the preceding two (just by a few seconds), providing the song with a great resolve at the end.

Additionally, take note of the intricacy of all the instrumentation used coupled with the mastery of the arrangement. At 1:30, Steely Dan pull of what others would pray they could do in 4:00. It’s truly an exceptional song.

Back to Top