Steely Dan/Doctor Wu


DFAGAN wrote at 2007-07-13 13:08:09
Dr. Wu: Famous Asain acupuncturist and healer that assisted a "member" of the band with an "addiction".

jackson wrote at 2007-08-16 14:24:42
I heard a local DJ in the Denver area the other morning say that Donald Fagan had a bad drug habit at one time and sought an acupuncturist, Dr. Wu, to help him kick his addiction.

Some guy in Texas wrote at 2008-02-08 16:36:59
Yes! I'm glad I'm not the only Steely Dan fan who caught the Dr. Wu reference in Fallout. Dr. Wu is perhaps the most intriguing and mysterious of the Dan tunes that I actually have an idea of "what it's about." Anyway, thanks for the multiple theories you produced to analyze the song. I think the Arthurian legend is a long shot, but it's fun to think about.

Alex wrote at 2009-03-03 09:39:34
If you think about the song is quite simple:

The guy is talking to himself about a woman who he fell for and broke his heart.

Case closed.

Possibly a few references to drug abuse but that is not central (probably not even) relevant to the meaning.  Probably using drugs when the song was written, that's all.

Kyle wrote at 2009-08-02 17:34:44
I never put the drug reference to Dr. Wu - I always saw him as a real doctor, a psychologist, one to whom the protagonist is detailing his longing and desire for and former love affair with the album's titular character.  Rather than help his client, however, the good doctor absconds with Katy and they both leave the singer behind.

Wenaolong wrote at 2011-02-24 17:23:15
I always saw it as Kyle does, above.  I just wasn't hip enough to know about "drugs" so that I could reach the other implications.  Even so, a chick can be just like a drug, especially when you are a younger guy. But apparently also when you are an older guy like "Dr. Wu" is, probably.

But I, like many westerners, idealized this notion of the Chinese old wise medicine man, etc, who will teach me how to view the secrets of reality in a pebble in his hand and I'll snatch it and also learn "KUNG FOO" as a bonus.  So I guess that sort of colored the image a bit (I grew up with Revenge of the Ninja and Enter the Dragon).  So I see him as talking to his Chinese wise man/herbalist/acupuncturist/healer and gongfu master, who in the process of helping the protagonist, somehow someway falls under some similar spell of his own.  We don't know what it is, but we see that it dimishes Dr. Wu in the protagonists eyes, it takes away his pillar of strength and support. Dr. Wu is just an ordinary guy, no longer a living myth to pull the protagonist out of his troubles.

 In a slight varation to this, I felt that perhaps the "thing" that "got" Dr. Wu in the end was just "life" and maybe falling in love with some young blonde chick intern at his clinic, not necessarily the protagonists chick.

 But I think in the end it doesn't matter what "Got" Dr. Wu.  The song to me is about DR. WU and not the protagonist.  To me, it is about how a myth can be there to pick you up when something else you believed in let you down (Katy, wine/women/song/money/carreer/ego etc), but that in the end even that myth will be strangely taken away from you, leaving you truly beside yourself with a surreal shock.

randy wrote at 2015-04-05 13:33:34
MY Interpretation  ( humbly offered )

     Katy said that she could score some stuff for them

  that  " taste  " you said you'd bring to me .

  Katy tried ,

  Katy lied ,

  I was half way crucified ( hangin' out for a hit )

  I was on the other side of no tomorrow  

Steely Dan

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Mike McGibney


I can answer questions about individual members of the band or their vast array of session musicians, or about ANY song, even the extremely rare/unpublished. I can help with musical aspects such as chords/instruments used or with style of playing or about the history behind the band and in particular, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, the bands writers/arrangers.


I am a huge Steely Dan fan, and have my own website on them. I also have a Steely Dan tribute band, and saw the real Steely Dan play at Wembley in 2000. I play all their music on bass and piano, and specialise in hard to get songs, mostly on mp3 format.

I play keyboards and do the arranging and transcriptions for a Steely Dan tribute band, and am a regular member on forums on the band throughout the internet.

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