Rikki Don't Lose That Number Lyrics

We hear you're leaving, that's OK
I thought our little wild time had just begun
I guess you kind of scared yourself, you turn and run
But if you have a change of heart:

Rikki Don't Lose That Number
You don't wanna call nobody else
Send it off in a letter to yourself
Rikki don't lose that number
It's the only one you own
You might use it if you feel better
When you get home

I have a friend in town, he's heard your name
We can go out driving on Slow Hand Row
We could stay inside and play games, I don't know
And you could have a change of heart


You tell yourself you're not my kind
But you don't even know your mind
And you could have a change of heart

Song Info
Submitted by
Submitted on
May 21, 2002
54 Meanings
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The Wikipedia article didn't really quote the article in Entertainment Weekly, but paraphrased it.

For those of you interested in the actual quote from the actual article:


"Tucked in the woods behind Stone Row, down a narrow path many students never notice, sits a one-room, octagonal stone structure known as the Observatory. It is there that Fagen most wants to visit. ''I used to practice here,'' he explains, gazing around the room, which, it turns out, was converted into an office in the early '70s. This isolated space was one of Fagen's most cherished escapes. ''There was nothing in there but a grand piano,'' he says. ''I had wonderful hours in here practicing scales, things that no one else should hear, you know? I'd write tunes in here, too. And if you were rejected by someone you were in love with, you could scream. I was always in love with someone [who] ignored me completely. That was my Bard experience. There was a Sorrows of Young Werther vibe about it.''

One such unrequited crush might have been a professor's young wife named Rikki Ducornet, whose first name will be familiar to Steely Dan fans. Fagen won't admit it – he's always been extremely reluctant to explain his songs – but it's easy to imagine that Ducornet was the inspiration for one of his band's most famous tunes, ''Rikki Don't Lose That Number.'' ''I remember we had a great conversation and he did suggest I call him, which never happened,'' says Ducornet, now a well-regarded novelist and artist. ''But I know he thought I was cute. And I was cute,'' she laughs. ''I was very tempted to call him, but I thought it might be a bit risky. I was very enchanted with him and with the music. It was so evident from the get-go that he was wildly talented. Being a young faculty wife and, I believe, pregnant at the time, I behaved myself, let's say. Years later, I walked into a record store and heard his voice and thought, 'That's Fagen. And that's my name!'''

Fagen would have better luck with a former Bard student named Libby Titus, whom he encountered on campus in 1966 and married 27 years later. And that's hardly his only happy memory of the school. ''I was coming straight from a housing development in New Jersey, so it was great,'' he says. ''I loved the teachers and the girls, you know. I had friends here. Probably the only time in my life,'' he says with a laugh, ''that I actually had friends.'' "

"Donald Fagen" is openly gay.... listen to it again word for word he used to like this guy a lot that wasn't gay so he tries to convince him he might like it!! F*ck what Wikipedia says I have seen many mistakes on there but Fagen does not and never did like women ... sorry!

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Apparently Horace Silver wasn't pleased at them using his bass line in this song which sort of surprises me. Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter expressed their admiration to these guys quite a lot. I must say this song has a very unusual chord sequence (as did most of them). Musicians I meet often comment on how strange it is to play bizarre jazz chords and change key unexpectedly. I pity the cover bands! Right on!

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Here's something to muddle all conclusions:

The person of the title is Rikki Ducornet, see page 3 of:


The short story is that Rikki was the young, pregnant wife of a professor at Bard that DF had a flirtation with.

My Interpretation

In July 1979, while hitchhiking near Stafford, Arizona, I met an old man by the side of the road who tried to convince me that the "Rikki" of this song was Richard Nixon.

The Watergate scandal was unfolding around the time the song was released -- "We hear you're leaving, that's OK..." -- and the man by the road offered a quite incredible (that's the polite way to say "implausible") explanation about a conspiracy of people who were trying to protect the president by communicating to him through Steely Dan songs. Or something like that.


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Okay, I don't know anything about the history of this song or anything, but taking into consideration what Buddy said and the words, it sounds like the song is the drug talking to the person. You know what I mean? Yeah that's how I feel.


@alucinox that's my thought.

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This is a gr8 SD song and I absolutely LOVE the guitar solo. When I heard it on the radio in the 70s, I thought was about unrequited love; the kind I was going through at that time, so I felt the song was 'mine'. I've since read some music critics comment about the 'homosexual allusions' in it; still loved the song, but it bummed me out a little just because I thought it wasn't mine anymore. Glad to read Fagans' response on the meaning.

My Opinion

@JudeJaded It has to be one of the greatest guitar solos ever recorded. Every time I hear it, I am astonished at the depth and complexity of it.

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I don't have an interpretation, just I can't help but compliment Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. I mean, how many meanings has everyone come up with? Ricki Nelson, Rikki Ducornet, gay seduction, pot, LSD, or just some random girl named Rikki. These two may have not known that it would cause such uproars among Internet forums, but they know how to write with a deviant sense of vagueness. Anyone can make a case for any meaning but the only way we'll know for sure is if Fagan and Becker confirm; and that won't happen anytime soon.

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The drug addiction seems right. If you look at the lyrics 'We can go out driving on Slow Hand Row.' Slow Hand was a popular Clapton album in the 70's with songs like Lay Down Sally and Cocaine on it I do believe. hmmmm.

@Last_nite the song was from 1974 and Clapton's Slow Hand was from 1977.

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granatino.com/sdresource/9lyrics.htm according to one of the songwriters, the lyrics are to be taken literally, it's a a song about a guy asking a girl not to lose his number.

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and they even spelled her name properly, as in RIKKI, not Ricky or whatever.

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its not about a guy or a gay guy or whatever. its about a girl. my name is rikki and i'm a girl. that is the girl spelling. ricky is guy, "rikki" even though its a rarer spelling, is purely girl!

Thank you, Rikki! I have an idea the name might have originally started as an affectionate name for Erica/Erika. Nameplayground.com counted people named Rikki at some point and there were more than 4000 of them. How many are males? Answer: "0.00%" and nameplayground has the remark "exclusively a girl's name".

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