Saturday, October 19, 2013

Eminent Hipsters: A Book Of Essays By Steely Dan's Grumpy Old Man, Donald Fagen

Bernadette McNulty at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a review of a book written by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen.

I remember the first time a friend presented me with a Steely Dan CD. It was both a gift and a test, an initiation into music beyond what then, among Nineties rave bleeps and grunge guitars, was considered anywhere near remotely cool. The sound baffled me at first – with its closeted atmosphere, noodly jazz structures, and slightly reedy, elliptical lyrics it sounded like the Eagles reimagined by Woody Allen – but there was also enough to intrigue me and, ultimately, enough to keep me going back to songs for which, like jazz or wine, you eventually develop a taste.
I imagine that is a description band frontman Donald Fagen would approve of from a person he would dismiss as “a TV baby”, an expression he admits to borrowing from the film Drugstore Cowboy to describe anyone born after 1960, “when television truly became the robot caretaker of American children and therefore the principal architect of their souls”. In his account of a 2012 tour with his side project, the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue, Fagen spends a lot of time being tormented by TV babies. They provoke his ire by turning up to gigs expecting Steely Dan’s greatest hits, or worse, waving their camera phones about: “The TV Babies have morphed into the Palm People… sending instant videos to their friends: 'Look at me, I must be alive, I can prove it, I’m filming this s---.’ You know what? I refuse to look at you. You’re a corpse. And you prove that every day, with everything you do and everything you say.”
As you can tell from this, the 65-year-old American, a proud snark in his youth, has matured into a rabidly grumpy old man. But thankfully age has not stripped him of his keen wit and nose for elegant prose. Rock stars are not necessarily sensitive wordsmiths or deep self-analysts by nature – their life stories, documenting a rake’s progress through narcotics and women, tend to be tossed off as record sales dwindle. In his usual contrary fashion, Fagen has decided instead to create a collage of writing made up of critical essays (some previously published) on the cultural heroes or “eminent hipsters” of his youth, combined with his recent tour diary.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Note: I'm a big fan of Steely Dan, so I'm interested in reading this book.

You can listen to one of Steely Dan's finest albums, Aja, via the below link: 

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