I'm Lester the Nightfly
Hello Baton Rouge
Won't you turn your radio down
Respect the seven second delay we use

So you say there's a race
Of men in the trees
You're for tough legislation
Thanks for calling
I wait all night
For calls like these

An independent station
WJAZ
With jazz and conversation
From the foot of Mt. Belzoni
Sweet music
Tonight the night is mine
Late line 'til the sun
Comes through the skylight

I've got plenty of java
And Chesterfield Kings
But I feel like crying
I wish I had a heart like ice
Heart like ice

If you want your honey
To look super swell
You must spring
For that little blue jar
Patton's Kiss And Tell
Kiss And Tell

An independent station
WJAZ
With jazz and conversation
From the foot of Mt. Belzoni
Sweet music
Tonight the night is mine
Late line 'til the sun
Comes through the skylight

You'd never believe it
But once there was a time
When love was in my life
I sometimes wonder
What happened to that flame
The answer's still the same
It was you, it was you
Tonight you're still on my mind

An independent station
WJAZ
With jazz and conversation
From the foot of Mt. Belzoni
Sweet music
Tonight the night is mine
Late line 'til the sun
Comes through the skylight


Lyrics submitted by magicmanx9

The Nightfly Lyrics as written by Donald Fagen

Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Nightfly song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentSweetandy, I gotta disagree. I think New Frontier is about hosting a party in a bomb shelter, but not after a nuclear holocaust. Hence "let's pretend that its the real thing".

    So I think this song is just about a regular underground dj. And the "race of men in the trees" is just a conspiracy theory espoused by some paranoid caller (who is also for tougher legislation).

    jsaulon September 28, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI looked up the lyrics cause I couldn't understand the love verses, then ran across the meanings site. My comments are..being a jazz jockey can be a lonely existence, specially if you're broadcasting from a shack at the foot of a mountain which is often the case with small stations. They mount the antenna on top of the highest promontory in the area, then run the lines down to the base, build a broadcast shack and broadcast from there.So he's into some silent reveries about a lost love in his lonely existence. He's happy but he's melancholy. The 7 second seven delay is so he can delete expletives from any callers. That's my take.~S
    stew0001on April 06, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentNot to be Captain Obvious, but the "Won't you turn your radio down / Respect the seven second delay we use" is a reference to a phenomenon that occurs when a caller's radio is loud enough to carry into their telephone - it creates a feedback loop which sounds really weird. When this happens, DJs will remind the caller to turn down their radios. I'm sure most people who listen to the radio have heard this at one time or another but I don't know if many people listen to the radio anymore. I thought I'd provide that small and perhaps obvious insight.

    Great song, great album.
    jsaulon September 19, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWell, I suppouse it is about an independent station called WJAZ which has jazz and conversation. Hmmm, a bit too obvious perhaps?
    mik91on March 31, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFather Oblivion:

    It's a commercial Lester the DJ has to recite.
    bramdakotaon September 18, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPatton's Kiss and Tell is a cosmetics product. The commercial foreshadows Lester's thoughts about his lost love, so it's ironic. The entire song is ironic, because it's clear that Lester is barely making a living, playing music he loves at a time when almost no one is listening except insomniacs with their own problems and delusions.

    The song is similar in meaning and story line to Piano Man by Billy Joel, where an extremely talented piano player and singer works in a bar that's a dive, frequented by losers and low-lifes, which is a reflection on the pitiful life the piano player leads.
    bramdakotaon September 18, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commenta Jazz call in talk show DJ

    the "race of men in the trees" were what certain white bigots of the time thought of blacks....that they were like monkey in trees....



    lyric is actually: "If you want your honey
    To look super swell
    You must spring for that hoojah"

    a "hoojah" is a slang Cajun term, something, a gadget of some sort, some cosmetic, that he thinks will make his Honey look super swell....

    the sunlight comes through the skylight when his show is over in the morning, since he is Lester the Nightfly, a night time DJ
    rash67on April 29, 2015   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningAs is attributed to Freud when speaking of objects in dreams, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar". Sometimes a song is just some nice, toe-tapping music with a title that is descriptive of the song and not so damn existential!

    Being older (51) when I want deeper meaning in song I listen to The Moody Blues and can really get into it but at times I must admit that even they can get a bit pompous. Having gone through the era of bands feeling the need to have "big" names which made no sense (Strawberry Alarm Clock, Ides of March, Wadsworth Mansion, The Assembled Multitude, Brotherhood of Man, Chairman of the Board) is was refreshing to me for the '70s to have a rebirth of bands that were simply "The" whatever (Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Cars) and even better when it became just one word (Styx, Kansas, Chicago, Genesis, Heart). But I digress....

    I love Steely Dan and Donald Fagen as I find their music tight, clean and played as close to perfection as is humanly possible. And sometimes I just want to tap my toe, enjoy the groove and not worry about the deeper meaning behind the lyrics. These boys have done that for me countless times and I love it!
    GolfingPlowboyon March 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe lyrics seem pretty straightforward regarding a lonely night-time DJ, except for this:

    If you want your honey
    To look super swell
    You must spring for that little blue jar
    Patton's Kiss And Tell
    Kiss And Tell

    I have no idea what this means. Little blue jar? Patton's kiss and tell?
    Father O Blivionon April 27, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is aabout a late-night talk show host/DJ. (It brings to mind the late Ray Taliaferro, who ran an all-night talk show in San Francisco for over 30 years. He would also occasionally play jazz music on his show.)

    "Won't you turn your radio down" - having the radio on while calling a talk show can cause feedback and confuse both the caller and the host.

    "Respect the seven second delay we use" - the program is sent through system that delays the sound by seven minutes before it goes over the air. Profanity or other inappropriate material can be deleted before it is aired.

    "a race of men in the trees / You're for tough legislation" - example of the types of calls that late-night talk shows sometimes get.

    "a race of men in the trees " could also have a more sinister meaning: lynching of African Americans in the southern US, which was known to take place as late as the 1950s.

    "Thanks for calling / I wait all night / For calls like these" - sung with a sarcastic tone, he's not really enthusiastic about these callers/subjects.

    "But I feel like crying / I wish I had a heart like ice" - What, all's not going well here in radioland? More on this later in the song.

    "Patton's Kiss And Tell" - ad for a cosmetics project, face cream most likely. The ad is but a temporary distraction; the singer will tell us more about why he is unhappy shortly.

    "You'd never believe it
    But once there was a time
    When love was in my life
    I sometimes wonder
    What happened to that flame
    The answer's still the same
    It was you, it was you
    Tonight you're still on my mind"

    Once upon a time, the singer was in a nice relationship. It broke up, probably due to the stresses of being in the radio business (late nights, odd hours, perhaps having to move from town to town to find work)

    "You" refers to the host's audience.
    cphon June 26, 2021   Link

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