"Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More" as written by Walter Carl Becker and Donald Jay Fagen....
Daddy don't live in that New York City
No more
He don't celebrate Sunday on a Saturday night
No more
Daddy don't need no lock and key
For the piece he stowed
Out on Avenue D
Daddy don't live in that New York City
No more
Daddy don't drive in that Eldorado
No more
He don't travel on down to the neighborhood
Liquor store
Lucy still loves her coke and rum
But she sits alone
Cause her daddy can't come
Daddy don't drive in that Eldorado
No more

Driving like a fool out to Hackensack
Drinking his dinner from a paper sack
He says I gotta see a joker
And I'll be right back

Daddy don't live in that New York City
No more
He can't get tight every night
Pass out on the barroom floor
Daddy can't get no fine cigar
But we know you're smoking
Wherever you are
Daddy don't live in that New York City
No more


Lyrics submitted by thermo4

"Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More" as written by Walter Carl Becker Donald Jay Fagen

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More song meanings
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  • +2
    My InterpretationSteely Dan songs create a series of mental images. Both the literal meaning of the words and the feeling of the music combine to create these images and impressions.

    In a literal sense, the song comments on the general trend for immigrants, perhaps especially Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, to arrive in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York City and then to move on to the suburbs. Steely Dan covered similar themes, but from a Puerto Rican perspective, on the title track from their next album, The Royal Scam.

    More obviously, the song is about a pimp who is now passed on, either to another neighborhood, to the suburbs, or, perhaps (as suggested by ProfessorKnowItAll) to the next life.

    The song's midtempo jazz swing sets the stage for the narrator who delivers the lyrics from the hip, insiderish, world-weary perspective we find so often in Steely Dan songs in general and on the album containing this song, Katy Lied, in particular. In fact, it's easy to imagine this song being recorded live during a performance in a smoky cellar bar somewhere in Loisaida (the Spanish slang name for the Lower East Side).

    The line "he can't celebrate Sunday on a Saturday night no more" may allude to the Jewish sabbath day. As this is the only line that seems to specifically reference Jews, the case is not that strong to argue that the song's protagonist is a Jew. Many other lines seem to imply a Cuban or Puerto Rican "Daddy." But I have always gotten a strong sense of a reference to the Jewish sabbath from this line.

    The lines "daddy don't need no lock and key, for the peace/piece he keeps out on Avenue D" is typical Steely Dan word play. Both meanings appear to refer to a pimp. Whether it's "piece," as in "piece of ass" (i.e., a prostitue in his employ) or "peace" as in, "keeping the peace" (i.e., keeping everything going on an even keel with the woman out working for him on the street), there is an overall sense of the songwriter having a good time with the multiple meanings of words and phrases.

    More specifically, Avenue D is considered the most dangerous of all the Avenues of the New York City neighborhood known as Alphabet City (the other Avenues are A, B, and C), the most eastern part of either the Lower East Side or the East Village, depending on which name you use. This adds, very literally, to the edgy feel of the song (the only thing after Avenue D is the East River).

    The next stanza gives a sense of a pimp who has moved on to tamer pastures: driving an Eldorado (do I have to say it?; Cadillac Eldorade, a fancy Cadillac and fancy Cadillacs are associated with pimping). It also has a sad nostalgia to it: daddy misses his neighborhood with its short walk to the liquor store; Lucy misses Daddy and their times spent together sipping rum and cokes. She sits alone waiting for him to return.

    The mention of cigars and the cocktail also known as the Cuba Libra (a rum and coke, when served with a lime), specifically hints at our pimp being of Cuban descent. Neither New York City as a whole, nor the Lower East Side specifically, are known as Cuban neighborhoods. At the time Steely Dan wrote this song, the neighborhood's hispanic population was almost totally Puerto Rican. Well, this is Misters Becker and Fagen, not the United States Census. Fine cigars and Cuba Libres are way more evocative than pollo con arroz.

    I have never heard the last line, "we know you're smoking wherever you are," as anything other than a fairly lame shout-out to the band's listeners. I like the interpretation that Daddy is in fact burning in hell but, to me, the last line has just come across as a salute to the many many Dan fans who enjoy lighting up the occasional doobie (or even Doobie).
    roaddog73on June 09, 2009   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThe whole song about a man who ran guns, drank a lot, and died in a car crash while driving under the influence. I have several reasons that point to this conclusion.

    Point 1: Look at the lines...

    Driving like a fool out to Hackensack
    Drinkin' his dinner from a paper sack
    He says "I gotta see a joker and I'll be right back"

    What was a routine run to a client, which he did while driving maniacally and drinking, turned out to be a fatal crash.

    Point 2: Steely Dan often uses music to help emphasize a point. Right after singing this line, there's a heavier guitar riff that appears nowhere else in the song.

    Point 3: Right after this line, the repeated lyric has an emphatic "no" added to it (*No*, my daddy don't live in that New York City no more").

    Point 4: The whole song is mostly dealing with both his Eldorado (Cadillac) and his heavy use of alcohol.

    My case rests.
    ImaniOUon April 27, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this from the perspective of a child. Criminals have children too.
    Daddy has gone out "to see a joker and I'll be right back"
    Daddy has disappeared. If they knew what happened to daddy they would have said so.
    Daddy is some sort of criminal and a heavy drinker.
    He has a piece (Gun) a girl friend called Lucy.
    I think the line "We know you are smoking wherever you are" is said in innocence by the child but means he is smoking in Hell.
    Robster62on September 17, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningMy guess is that "Daddy" is--or, rather, was--a pimp, gangster, or assorted low-life of some sort (a fixation of the 'Dan--see "Sign In Stranger," "With A Gun," "Pearl of the Quarter," "Do It Again," and "Charlie Freak," among others). The lyrics talk about his various depravities: partying ("celebrating Sunday on a Saturday night"), keeping a gun stored in case of 'emergencies' ("the piece he stowed out on Avenue D"--aren't the letter-streets in a bad part of NYC?), showing off his wealth by cruising around town ("don't drive that El Dorado no more"), and getting drunk on cheap liquor ("drinkin' his dinner from a paper sack").

    The last verse implies that the reason he "don't live in that New York City no more" is because he's dead and burning in hell--"Daddy can't get no fine cigar/But we know you're smoking, wherever you are".

    I've wondered if this is a vignette of their creation, or based on a real person or fictional character.
    ProfessorKnowItAllon November 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe "The piece he keeps out on Avenue D" to be a reference to a gun
    AlanBon April 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationHmmm...This song paints a picture of a low end criminal type who had to get out of town....is he somewhere else, in jail, or dead?...We can't be sure but the piece is a gun he didn't have time to get or didn't need....the potential key is in the vague reference .."we know you're smoking where ever you are"...but it won't be fine cigars...probably never was so this doesn't have to indicate jail or any major change...he's just gone and we left to wonder
    hans5on May 06, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commenta very underrated song
    johnnyobreadisleaon August 09, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song always hit home because my pop was a raging alcoholic who at one point drove an Eldorado; and my mom's name was Lucille (wasn't a drinker of coke n rum or any other libations) but pops was an absentee husband/father who frequently neglected her/us.

    Daddy can't get no fine cigar
    But we know you're smoking
    Wherever you are

    yep, my dad's also burning in hell all right... enjoy, Smokey, I'll see you in due time.
    DueReflectionon January 23, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a requiem for an ageing hipster in the pre-viagra era. The dude 'can't come'.
    ElSlappoon August 21, 2016   Link

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