While I always respected Steely Dan‘s music (catchy hooks, jazzy instrumentation), I never really listened to their lyrics. Okay, I would half-listen, catching a line or a thought here and there, but mostly I succumbed to the complex, swoony melodies. Which is why for many years I had it my mind that the title of “Bodhisattva” was “Wadi Safra.” I just felt better about the latter, mainly because it was one of the desert locations shown and referred to in Lawrence of Arabia.
I may have glanced at the Countdown to Ecstasy liner notes and noted a song called “Bodhisattva”, but my feelings of kinship with Lawrence of Arabia overpowered anything Donald Fagen or Walter Becker had in mind. Particularly any notions of “a person who’s able to reach nirvana but delays out of compassion for fellow suffering beings.” And I’m speaking as someone who was once pretty well versed in nirvana terminology, thanks in part to the groundbreaking example of Cary Grant.