“She’s the raw flame, the live wire. She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire.”
With these lyrics, The Darcys, a Toronto-based art-rock outfit, crafted the harrowing allegory of modern womanhood that is their latest video. “Josie,” a cover of Steely Dan’s 1977 hit, is re-imagined in the eyes of the band and video director Aaron Miller. Brooding organ and droning guitar replace the song’s original funk-tinged rhythm. Miller matches the atmosphere with languid shots of modernist architecture and various female subjects—each stranded in a towering world of concrete and urban malaise.
“With ‘Josie,’ we set out to juxtapose the always-engrossing power of a woman’s eyes with some of the monolithic structures that often define the places we live,” explained drummer Wes Marskell. “So many of our communities simultaneously prize and objectify their young women,” he said. “It’s easy to lose a sense of who those girls really are.”
Penned by core Steely Dan members Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, “Josie” tells the story of fiery socialite who’s just come back to town. Everyone anticipates her arrival: “She’s the pride of the neighborhood,” after all. But the Darcys turn this concept on its head, casting Josie’s fast-paced existence as a winding cavern into complete self-degradation. Miller expresses this in beautiful black and white, capturing each woman in the throes of decay, the “raw flame” flickering in each of their eyes—on the brink of burning out.
“We wanted to let each subject define her presence within this simple and honest concept,” said Marskell, “then set that against our relatively dark interpretation of the song.”