A witty, revealing, sharply written work of memoir and criticism by the cofounder of Steely Dan.
Musician and songwriter Donald Fagen presents a group of vivid set pieces in his entertaining debut as an author, from portraits of the cultural figures and currents that shaped him as a youth to an account of his college days and of life on the road.
Fagen begins by introducing the "eminent hipsters" that spoke to him as he was growing up in a bland New Jersey suburb in the early 1960s, among them Jean Shepherd, whose manic nightly broadcasts out of WOR-Radio "enthralled a generation of alienated young people"; Henry Mancini, whose swank, noirish soundtracks left their mark on him; and Mort Fega, the laid-back, knowledgeable all-night jazz man at WEVD who was like "the cool uncle you always wished you had."
Acclaimed for the elaborate arrangements and jazz harmonies of his songs, Fagen proves himself a sophisticated writer with a very distinctive voice in this engaging book.
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Must-listen for Steely Dan or Donald Fagen fans
If you've ever wondered about Donald Fagan or Steely Dan's origins, this is the book for you! The fact that it is narrated by Fagen himself is a major bonus. While some might not care for the sound of his voice or his laconic manner, I found it to be integral to enjoying the text.
Fagen was born just a few years before me, but the touchpoints of his youth resonated with me. Listening to a transistor radio, transitioning through listening to different styles of music, etc.
As a former performing musician myself, I enjoyed hearing his tales of life on the road -- the good and the bad... well, mostly the bad. But even the bad is funny the way he tells it. Any musician who aspires to be famous enough to tour for a living (or whatever reason) should certainly listen to Fagen's story before getting too excited about what awaits them on the road.
The scope, from youth to Steely Dan reunion tours, and told by the man himself.
I'd only heard his music (recordings, radio, one live concert in 2013) and one radio interview. All great stuff, but don't pass over this audiobook.
I listened while commuting. Most audiobooks are way too long to even contemplate sitting or even listening to for 10-30 hours.
Buy this audiobook!
- Harry Levinson
The author has no use, he says, for the art, music, or culture of today. That's fine, but if the past is THAT interesting, one need not condemn the present. This material could have been so interesting, had anyone but a grouchy old man with an attitude conveyed it.
It has certainly made me more cautious.
Perhaps another narrator would have been more sympathetic, but that would have been misleading.
Donald Fagen. Seriously.