Just when I say
"Boy we can't miss
You are golden"
Then you do this
You say this guy is so cool
Snapping his fingers like a fool
One more expensive kiss-off
Who do you think I am
Lord I know you're a special friend
But you don't seem to understand
We got heavy rollers
I think you should know
Try again tomorrow

Can't you see they're laughing at me
Get rid off him
I don't care what you do at home
Would you care to explain

Who is the gaucho amigo
Why is he standing
In your spangled leather poncho
And your elevator shoes
Bodacious cowboys
Such as your friend
Will never be welcome here
High in the Custerdome

What I tell you
Back down the line
I'll scratch your back
You can scratch mine
No he can't sleep on the floor
What do you think I'm yelling for
I'll drop him near the freeway
Doesn't he have a home

Lord I know you're a special friend
But you refuse to understand
You're a nasty schoolboy
With no place to go
Try again tomorrow

Don't tell me he'll wait in the car
Look at you
Holding hands with the man from Rio
Would you care to explain

Who is the gaucho amigo
Why is he standing
In your spangled leather poncho
With the studs that match your eyes
Bodacious cowboys
Such as your friend
Will never be welcome here
High in the Custerdome

Lyrics submitted by AbFab

"Gaucho" as written by Keith Jarett Donald Fagen

Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Gaucho song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentMy first time here, but a long-time fan of Steely Dan. My thoughts--the whole Gaucho Album is about Life in Los Angeles/Hollywood and the Entertainment Business. I see Dan as exploring themes in albums--each song playing on the overall theme/idea--the way a novel does with chapters. So to figure this song, I see it as it is, but also in the context of the overall album.

    To me, this has always been fairly obvious song. The narrator is the agent/manager of a high-level(golden) actor or probably athlete (Athlete agent in Glamour Profession--so if the protagonist is the same guy in every song it would be him. An actor wouldn't be so shocking to be bi-sexual as an athlete would, but an athlete wouldn't usually have "elevator shoes" but many actors do.). Either way, the agent knows the client is bi-sexual (special friend), but knows letting it out is good for business, so he's instructed the client to keep things down low. But the client shows up with a flamboyant (obviously gay companion) to some important meeting and the agent is livid because his livelihood depends on what he books for this client (expensive kiss-off). The agent is older, smarter, and has seen it all and knows how to work the system, but the client doesn't get it (don't seem to understand) or is refusing to keep playing the game (refuse to understand). Or more likely, just thinks it's all fun and games and doesn't realize how precarious his existence as a successful actor/athlete is. Think Ari trying to manage Vincent Chase's drug addiction in Entourage.

    Whether the agent is gay or not is interesting. I never thought this because he says, "I know you're a special friend." And he asks, "Who is the gaucho, Amigo?" He's not upset (jealous) that the guy has this flamboyant friend, just that he bought him to the meeting with the agent. The reference to the "spangled leather poncho" "elevator shoes" "bodacious cowboys" and "studs that match your eyes" are all sarcastic quips at the outrageous and totally unacceptable way the guy is dressed and behaving.I always took the phrase as the way the gaucho described the poncho ("see the studs match his eyes") b/c it's a flamboyant thing to say. The agent repeating it sarcastically. I always took it to simply be "WTF? Dude, I'm trying to run a business here." (Can't you see their laughing at me? Get rid of him. I don't care what you do at home.) Not caring what the guy does at home indicates there's no love relationship b/t the agent and client.

    Apparently, the client realizes his error and is looking for what to do with the gaucho--no doubt so he won't be seen with him and is trying to get the agent to hide him or take care of it. But this is crossing the line. (No, he can't sleep on the floor, what do you think I'm yelling for?) This ain't a joke, dude. (I'll drop him near the freeway.) He won't even take him home, but will get him away from here. The lack of respect seems to indicate the agent finds the homo behavior disgusting--esp. since he calls the client a "nasty schoolboy". Saying he has "No place to go" seems to indicate the client can't be seen anywhere with this guy and he's not going to do whatever he does with the guy at the agent's place. "Try again tomorrow" is the agent's resignation to try to book something else for the client the next day--hopefully without the gaucho.

    Finally the agent has convinced the client that the gaucho is f-ing it up for everybody and he will correct his behavior. The agent is still pissed off (Don't tell me he'll wait in the car... Look at you-holding this dude's hand--UGH!) How the hell am I supposed to sell this? Who are you? You're supposed to be the leading man. You're supposed to be the star of the team, etc. This behavior will never sell to the masses--i.e. big leagues, top movies, etc. (Custerdome)--just a generic name for an arena or big venue--Staple's Center, Phillips Arena, Gund Arena.

    That's my 2c.
    JasonsLyricon May 09, 2012   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI see the narrator as an agent type and closeted homosexual with an obsession with his client. He is pleading with his client to dump his new lover because it's bad for his career, but really, he is jealous. Reminds me of other manager types who tried to control their client's personal lives - Colonel Tom Parker (Elvis) and Dr. Eugene Landy (Brian Wilson).

    The narrator is not in the right here - he is losing his cool and crossing the line with his insults "You're a nasty schoolboy...", "Snapping his fingers like a fool". The client does not understand why his manager is so upset because he's oblivious and the attraction isn't mutual: "What do you think I'm yelling for?".

    The key line for me that is the second reference to the spangled leather poncho - this time he says "...with the studs that match your eyes."
    It's not something a straight man would notice or say to another man if there wasn't an attraction there. In the previous verses, his excuses were always along the lines of - this is bad for your career, this makes us [read: ME] look bad - but this is where he becomes so incensed he slips and reveals the true reasons for his irrational anger.
    mmmmeanon June 30, 2016   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningMost people here have the interpretation wrong. Some are close, others are REALLY far off (one person said its about a dog being brought home. LOL, wtf?).

    The lyrics are quite obvious. You have to acknowledge two truths. Steely Dan has a lot of shock value in this album in terms of lyrics (Hey Nineteen is obviously about an old man and his young teenage lover) and they love drugs. This song is without a doubt about a gay couple, but here's the wrinkle that most people are getting wrong. The narrator and his friend (he calls him his special friend) are drug dealers. The song starts off by saying "Boy we can't miss, you are golden, then you do this". One of the top comments here makes the relationship about an agent and his client. The client is obviously gay with the "gaucho" and the agent is upset that those two are embarrassing him and ruining business. Its plausible but "we got heavy rollers" line doesn't add up.

    What would be really looked down upon during this time? Homosexuals. Needle sharing homosexuals would be such a bad look for people trying to deal to "heavy rollers". You have to remember where the AIDS epidemic came from. People where afraid of homosexuals continuing to spread the disease through needle sharing. The narrator says "Bodacious cowboys, such as your friend, will never be welcomed here, high in the Custerdome". Which is an easy line to dissect. Basically saying that homosexuals such as yourself will never be welcomed here within this high society/group or more-so in this case drug dealing empire. That's what custerdome can be interpreted as. I don't see that as an agent with his client. Because lets be honest, Hollywood is filled with homosexuals. It's not like that would be an odd thing to see in San Francisco. The line "Don't tell me he'll wait in the car". Again, another reference that seems like drug dealers. They are going to do a quick transaction, he can wait in the car. The narrator says "look at you, holding the hands with the man from Rio". Key word being "man" to show how foolish it looks to have one man holding another man's hands. That's not what real men do.

    The line "one more expensive kiss-off, who do you think I am". The phrase "kiss-off" is another way of saying "screw you", "taking advantage of someone", etc. So its an expensive, screw you. What's expensive? They are drug users. He says "who do you think I am?". Basically saying "Who do you think I am, an idiot? You and your gay friend are just trying to use me. You want to use drugs together, use my situation, but you are completely embarrassing me and ruining business. We are dealing with high rollers. They are laughing at me because of you two. Get him out of here!"
    LyricAnalyston July 06, 2019   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOk, so somebody I met recently thinks this song is about a gay man and his lover bringing home a Brazilian hunk he met.

    I never thought of it that way until he said that to me. I can see it now, though.

    I never liked this tune until I heard Bob Tedde from The Steely Damned (San Diego) sing it. He claims it's one of his favorites. And he sang it with such reverence and love, you couldn't help but adore the song. It was like a lullaby.
    GreyBlueEyeson August 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have always thought the narrator of the song was a manager talking to his client, an athlete... probably a pro wrestler or rodeo star ( i get this from the spangled leather poncho refernce) ... warning him to keep his homosexuality secret so as not to ruin his budding career (just when I say boy we cant miss, you are golden, now you do this) or offend their sponsors (heavy rollers) I agree, this is a highly underrated album... one of my favorites along with Royal Scam
    cojo727on October 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentCojo... I have to tell you I agree with your take on the song 100%. I get the same feeling a manager taking to his "star". This was written while they were in California so I want to say they are taking about a hollywood star, but wrestler or rodeo is possible...it's just that isn't a big money making business with "high rollers"

    This is one of SD's best songs musically. Gaucho is for me the best album they recorded... althought they are all great.
    underbanyantreeson March 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentya'll just don't understand Steely Dan. This is a love/worried love song from Donald to Walter about Walter's heroin addiction. The gaucho is the drug inside Walter's body. Listen again with that in mind.
    ghouseon September 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA custerdome doesnt refer to George Custer, look the SD Dictionary explains : steelydandictionary.com/ ( scroll down to Custerdome)
    ParisisworthaMasson March 20, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere has always been another explanation in the back of my mind. When I think of Hey
    Nineteen some say the protagonist is a middle aged man with a younger woman. Maybe Gaucho is a scene where his wife showes up to a gathering with her younger Latin boy toy, disregarding the agreement they have to keep their indiscretions out of the public eye.
    It appears that most of the lyrics to the antagonist are masculine so I think this theory is far fetched but what if it's his male assistant showing up to a Hollywood party with this "Gaucho"???
    Torrez74on November 29, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAll fascinating takes on this closet classic. My brother called this I believe correctly many many years ago right after it was released I think all the drug references and agents are kind of on the right track but here's a simple explanation. it's a party and the party has some important people!! Who ever the nasty school boy is. The message is clear. Get this guy who is dressed inappropriately out of here and do it now. You are blowing it for you and me with these people!! Unsaid: cant he just crash here? No get him out of here. Unsaid: he doesnt have ride? Drop him near the freeway. Heavy hitting business types like to socialize with people they are about to conduct biz with. So simply a unwelcome or high party guest making a scene or wearing a pancho when the other guest are in evening attire. Basic and plausible. And yes Becker was strung out during the period. Also of note Walt has really turned it around in his life and we all know the list is long of those that went all the way down. I like them even more with the passing of time.
    Mike daddyon August 11, 2016   Link

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