HAL is a great little groove. Very typical Steely Dan chord progressions. I manage to play a lot of the melody on guitar during this track. Some Steely tracks melodies can be limited to a couple of notes for the vocals (e.g. Black Friday). This one has a beautiful melody, complete with those odd little passing notes and key changes we know and love (Becker/Fagen for).

I'm very pleased with the solo on this one. You can't beat the Steelys to improvise over. It's tough to play with such a clean sound and guitar tone but this you can get #in the pocket' of. It's bluesey, it's jazzy, and, as you know, I'm sparing with the number of notes I play per musical bar. I'm out to be the most expressive I can be - and that means making the most you can of the notes you've got (and the silences between them)

Musical analysis

"Home at Last" is a track from Steely Dan's 1977 album “Aja”, showcasing the band's signature blend of jazz, rock, and sophisticated studio production. Written by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, the song is noted for its smooth groove, intricate harmonies, and introspective lyrics. Here’s an accessible breakdown of its musical and lyrical elements.

Key/Tonal Center

"Home at Last" is primarily in the key of G major. The song maintains a consistent tonal center, creating a sense of stability and resolution that fits its lyrical themes.

Chord Progressions

The chord progressions in "Home at Last" are complex and rich, typical of Steely Dan's sophisticated harmonic language.


Gmaj7 - F#m7 - Em7 - Bm7 - Am7 - D7sus4 - D7

In Roman numeral analysis for G major

Imaj7 - vii7 - vi7 - iii7 - ii7 - V7sus4 - V7


Gmaj7 - A7 - D7sus4 - D7

In Roman numeral analysis for G major

Imaj7 - II7 - V7sus4 - V7

These progressions utilize extended chords (maj7, m7, 7sus4) that add jazz flavor and harmonic depth, enhancing the song’s sophisticated feel.


"Home at Last" follows a straightforward yet effective structure

  1. Intro
  2. Verse 1
  3. Chorus
  4. Verse 2
  5. Chorus
  6. Instrumental Break (featuring a solo)
  7. Verse 3
  8. Chorus
  9. Outro

This ABABCA format allows for lyrical storytelling interspersed with instrumental sections that showcase the musicianship.


The melody in "Home at Last" is smooth and soulful, characterized by its relaxed, flowing lines. Donald Fagen's vocal delivery is laid-back yet expressive, fitting the song's introspective mood. The use of motifs, particularly in the instrumental breaks, adds to the song’s cohesiveness and memorability.

~What Makes It Interesting?

Several elements make "Home at Last" particularly interesting

  1. Sophisticated Harmony: The use of extended chords and smooth progressions adds harmonic richness.
  2. Lyrical Depth: The introspective lyrics offer a modern take on the myth of Odysseus, adding a layer of narrative intrigue.
  3. Smooth Groove: The laid-back yet precise groove creates a relaxing, immersive listening experience.
  4. Jazz Influences: The blend of jazz harmony and rock sensibilities exemplifies Steely Dan’s unique style.

Lyrical Themes

The lyrics of "Home at Last" draw on the myth of Odysseus and his long journey home, using it as a metaphor for personal struggles and the search for peace and stability. Key lines include

I know this superhighway / This bright familiar sun Well the danger on the rocks is surely past / Still I remain tied to the mast

These lyrics reflect a sense of relief at overcoming past difficulties, coupled with a recognition of ongoing challenges.

Chart Position and Awards

While "Home at Last" was not released as a single and therefore did not chart independently, the album “Aja” was highly successful. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Platinum. The album also won a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical.

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