Donald Fagen of Steely Dan grew up in Passaic, Fair Lawn and the Kendall Park section of South Brunswick, and on his first solo album, 1982’s The Nightfly, he revisited his youth — specifically his years in Kendall Park, where he spent most of his adolescence. As he wrote in the album’s liner notes, the songs “represent certain fantasies that might have been entertained by a young man growing up in the remote suburbs of a northeastern city during the late fifties and early sixties, i.e., one of my general height, weight and build.”
In the video (see below) for the album’s second single, “New Frontier,” the setting is clearly meant to be New Jersey. At one point, a large sign in a suburban development is shown that says, “New Homes From Multi Vista New Jersey.”
Video co-director Rocky Morton once said: “The whole basis of the song was explained to us that it came from when he was a kid in the ’50s in New Jersey. He used to go down into an old air raid shelter that his father had built, and that was just a springboard for lots of ideas, and the whole story that we built around it just kind of evolved, really.”
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.