In the mornin' you go gunnin' for the man who stole your water
And you fire 'til he is done in but they catch you at the border
And the mourners are all singin' as they drag you by your feet
But the hangman isn't hangin' and they put you on the street

You go back, Jack, do it again, wheel turnin' 'round and 'round
You go back, Jack, do it again

When you know she's no high climber then you find your only friend
In a room with your two-timer, and you're sure you're near the end
Then you love a little wild one and she brings you only sorrow
All the time you know she's smilin' you'll be on your knees tomorrow, yeah

You go back, Jack, do it again, wheel turnin' 'round and 'round
You go back, Jack, do it again

Now you swear and kick and beg us that you're not a gamblin' man
Then you find you're back in Vegas with a handle in your hand
Your black cards can make you money so you hide them when you're able
In the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table, yeah

You go back, Jack, do it again, wheel turnin' 'round and 'round
You go back, Jack, do it again

Lyrics submitted by AbFab, edited by KDBrazell, Mike175, letelier, garrettw, mjmajor, Katt740

Do It Again Lyrics as written by Walter Carl Becker Donald Jay Fagen

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Royalty Network, Songtrust Ave

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Do It Again song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +13
    General CommentThe first verse's theme is irony. The guy gets his water stolen (critical that it's WATER being stolen, the most abundant resource there is) and shoots the guy who stole it. This is a very harsh and irrational decision...

    The cops catch him at the border and bring him to justice. He gets his trial and all those who love and miss the dead guy are singing, cause they guy is being brough to justice. However, since he only shot the man due to him being a thief, "the hangman" (a metaphor for the justice system as a whole) isn't hanging, and they put him on the street. A man commits such a petty crime like stealing water, and pays for it with his life; another man shoots a man and goes free. Irony.

    The second verse is about discord in relationships. The guy finds out his girl "is no high climber" (doesn't have high standards) and finds his best (only!) friend in a room with his girl, having an affair. He lost his only friend and his girl, and he's sure he's near the end (of his rope? patience? sanity?)

    He rebounds with a girl who is very high maintenance. She goes crazy with him and his belongings, when in the end she's only using him. She doesn't give him what he wants (a relationship here, not sex) yet he keeps getting strung along and playing into her game (all the time you know she's smiling)... in the end, she will betray him just like the first girl did (you'll be on your knees tomorrow)

    The third verse is about the "bad guys" in the world. Gambling is used as a metaphor here. You swear and kick and beg us that you're not a (lying/manipulative/cheating/etc.) man, then you find you're back in Vegas with a handle in your hand. This basically says that all people have some elements of "darker natures" in them, or some form of a vice, and as much as they deny it, it is still there and they are still a slave to it

    "Black cards" refer to all the sins and "dark talents" you may have -- abilities you have which can get you an unfair advantage over others... However, in the Land of Milk and Honey (a common term used for Heaven) you will be judged on them.

    All three verses share a common theme of things repeating themself. Crime perpetuates in the first verse, a man's unlucky streak with love in the second, and cheating/vindication in the third (as a man will cheat, but then be cheated at the Pearly Gates). However, as all three verses hint, there is nothing we can do about it; the first verse, the guy gets off due to a legal loophole; the second verse, the guy is doomed to live a loveless life; and in the third verse, you may swear you have no vices, but in reality, you're "back in Vegas with that handle in your hand."

    What else would we expect, though, with a song titled "Do It Again?" History repeats itself. Bottom line. =)
    ProfGlitchon May 31, 2004   Link
  • +5
    General CommentUntil I just read the lyrics moments ago, (funny that after listening to this song hundreds of times over the last 40 years, i had never actually read the lyrics) I had thought the whole song was about a gambler in vegas.

    But it is really about repeating bad choices in all different areas of. Fagen sings about the cycle (wheel spinning round and round) that one finds themselves in when they go back and repeat them again.
    hankaaronon May 07, 2012   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI'm pretty sure this song is about the nature of sin and self destruction. The fact that the song refers specifically to the listener in an inclusive form throughout ("in the morning YOU go gunning.. etc etc.") seems to suggest that the song is intended to widely refer to humanity as a whole, or at least to society in general.

    each verse describes a sinful or self destructive behavior i.e revenge, betrayal etc however I think the final verse describes the overall message of the song best. the phrases: " you swear and kick and beg that you're not a gambling man.." and "you're black cards make you money so you hide them when you're able" are about the way people hide and deny their sinful and deceptive natures. "in the land of milk and honey you must put them on the table." may, as one use pointed out refer to heaven however I think it may also refer to the pursuit of the promised land and that in that pursuit you must show your cards, meaning that to get ahead you must reveal your sinful nature.

    I also think Gershwin cleverly used words that could have multiple meanings and interpretations to make the song more cryptic, such as "handle" possibly meaning booze, or slot machine handle.

    In any case the song is definitely about how humans are incapable of avoiding sin and self destruction, returning to the same behaviors that they know will only cause pain and hardship.
    jduttonon May 02, 2012   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationBefore everybody calls me a daydreaming, bumbling baffoon & downright spazmocrip retard, I know this isn't the true meaning of the song and wouldn't try and put 1 iota of arguement behind it, but i think it would be kinda cool if the song was a expansion/interpretation/parody of the old nursery rhyme 'Jack & Jill.'

    For example:
    'In the mornin you go gunnin'
    For the man who stole your water' - Gives Jack a reason to go up the hill (to fetch a pail of water)
    Why he'd then kill the water thief, who knows?

    'You go back, Jack do it again
    Wheel turnin' 'round and 'round
    You go back, Jack do it again' - Water wheel? The wheel section of a well? He gotta keep getting that water!(seriously? i like the roulette wheel theory best)

    'When you know she's no high climber
    Then you find your only friend' - Jill obviously, pushed Jack down the hill cos she's afraid of heights/no climber, and who in the 3rd verse of the nursery rhyme laughs at Jacks misfortune.

    'Now you swear and kick and beg us
    That you're not a gamblin' man
    Then you find you're back in Vegas
    With a handle in your hand' - Throw Jack into the modern world and where do you find him? Vegas, why? He's on 4 of the freakin' cards thats why. How much more of a gamblin man can you be than to appear on the cards??? Imagine Jack in the casino seeing himself everywhere, and what does he have? The well handle still in his hand... poetry. Lol.

    Still... awesome song!!!!
    Ishdawgon January 22, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentGod how I love this song.. I guess I'm the only one who still digs Steely Dan? and I'm only 17!
    Kittypawon April 28, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentNo, you're not the only one... I'm 17 too.

    On the surface, this song is about getting away with murder (reminds me of Hey Joe - Jimi Hendrix). But after a second look, this song could be about anything. For me, it is about unrequited love (to which I am no stranger). "Jack" cannot seem to grasp the fact the his girl doesn't love him back and continues to vie for her affection, hence "Go back, Jack. Do it again." Basically, Jack is whipped.

    The last verse is still about Jack's inexorable struggle. Vegas is a symbol for love; both come with huge risks.
    Ostrichon May 02, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAnd all along, I thought it was simply a song about criminal recidivism and the futility of the justice system.
    Nightvoiceon December 19, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFor this song the lyrics are fairly obviously about human nature, and fate and irony messing with us. The previous comments pretty well explain everything.
    My comment is that I appreciate the skilled writing and composition of Fagen and Becker, and simply listening to Baxter's instrumental break is pure enjoyment.
    cabincrazyoneon September 11, 2016   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAs a fan from China, I recently found the lyrics has association with a concept from Buddhism. I think it is just a coincidence but maybe not, because Steely Dan has "Bodhisattva" and "Banyan Tree" in their later songs, I am not sure how much they know about Buddhism (although I never saw any report referring if they ever had interest in Buddhism).

    I'm not native English speaker so I just will write my basic opinions only. For more relating background details you can simply google the concepts I refer to.

    What I want to introduce is "Three poisons" (you can find its wikipedia page), including Moha, Rage and Dvesha.

    Dvesha means anger, in the first verse the man killed the guy who just stole his water, he is in great anger.

    Moha means silly, or confusing. In the second verse the man was lovesick and made irrational choice.

    Rage means greedy. In the third verse the man gamble with black cards (making money in illegal way) to fidn his land of milk and honey.
    emily11217on September 07, 2021   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYou have no idea.
    ProfGlitchon April 03, 2005   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top