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‘You’re a Mean Old Mama’: Hear Steely Dan’s Rare Cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Carey’

A Steely Dan cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Carey” has been unearthed, and it’s the kind of soft rock summer treat you’d expect.

The Blue track — which Mitchell wrote after an encounter with a chef in Crete — sounds especially jazzy here, and the duo even swaps gender and uses the word “mama” instead of “daddy” (perhaps the duo discovered a female chef at Bard College). It’s unclear when it was recorded, but it’s rumored to have been cut in 2001 for 2007’s A Tribute to Joni Mitchell. It was ultimately shelved.

Mitchell recently made a rare public appearance at the Grammys, where she was named MusiCares Person of the Year. In January, she followed her friend Neil Young and pulled her music from Spotify, claiming the streaming service was promoting vaccine misinformation. Since 2020, she’s been hard at work on her archive series, dropping Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967) and Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968 To 1971).

Steely Dan is currently on tour, hitting cities in Florida and a stop at Atlantic City’s Borgata Events Center on Aug. 6. Last year, Donald Fagen spoke to Rolling Stone about touring, live albums, and the late Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker. “It was one of my favorite things, to get together with him and try to crack him up,” he said. “And vice versa.”

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