There's nothing quite like a music man revealing his thoughts on the world, to the world. Everyone perks up his ears and squints his eyes for this kind of revelation. And this comes as great pleasure from cofounder (also front man and keyboardist) of Steely Dan, Mister Donald Fagen, in "Eminent Hipsters". Interesting in a new way as he croons about himself and also "talented musicians, writers and performers."
The man is witty, and in this collection of essays reveals so much more than just the wild gossip that often goes with musicians' novels, biographies, autobiographies or even fancies. Steely Dan's highpoint of fame was in the 70s - a time for its jazz-rock to take a hit like the acid that was going around at the time. But unlike the Rolling Stones, the Steely Dan bunch were seemingly good boys - smart, intelligent really, and interested in more than just sex, drugs (well maybe a little here) and what's the third thing? Rock and...
Their lyrics famously spun around Los Angeles, as it was back in the 70s and of course New York where the band worked and played for most of their time together. And it's evident in his lyrics and this memoir that the man has a crafty way with words - sexy and smart, sarcastic and terribly ironic. He loves to critique, he loves to hate, and he loves to discuss, discuss, discuss.
Fagen, now in his mid-60s, loves to rat out the youth, jolt his fist out at the critics (it seems) and lovingly caress the musicians he admires. But you knew from the way he smiles that the man knows more than you do. The title, "Eminent Hipsters," is apt, as he refers to people of his generation that started to do things slightly differently opposed to the generalized music that was happening at the time. Now we'd love to know what he thinks of the current underground music scene in cities like New York and Berlin.
Fagen is a legend; not a massive one - but a legend nevertheless. He's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his band mate, and the man deserves the spot. The memoir covers people you may have never heard of before, but that's its charm. It's not the obvious in anything, from the first to the very last page.
by Donald Fagen