“[Becker]’s usually standing right here, and it’s weird for me,” Donald Fagen noted before starting the song. Steely Dan stayed close to the original recording of “Book of Liars,” which is tuneful, downcast and biting. “I waited so long, girl, and I came so far/ To find out you’re not always who you say you are,” Fagen sang. His three backing vocalists added extra weight to the chorus, and Jon Herrington chimed in with needle-nosed runs on guitar.
Fagen knows “Book of Liars” well, having helped produce 1994’s 11 Tracks of Whack. When Steely Dan released their first live album, Alive in America, the following year, the LP also included a version of “Book of Liars.”
Becker died last month at age 67. “He was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter,” Fagen noted in a tribute letter written after his collaborator’s death. “I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.”