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Eminent Hipstersby Donald Fagen
Synopses & Reviews
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.” He writes of how, coming of age during the paranoid Cold War era, one of his primary doors of escape became reading science fiction, and of his invigorating trips into New York City to hear jazz. Class of 69” recounts Fagens colorful, mind-expanding years at Bard College, the progressive school north of New York City, where he first met his future musical partner Walter Becker. With the Dukes of September” offers a cranky, hilarious account of the ups and downs of a recent cross-country tour Fagen made with Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald, performing a program of old R&B and soul tunes as well as some of their own hits.
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.
"In these entertaining sketches, Steely Dan keyboardist and front man Fagen pays tribute to the 'talented musicians, writers, and performers' from beyond the suburban New Jersey of his youth. In one chapter, Fagen recalls his early fascination with now-forgotten jazz singers the Boswell Sisters. He singles out Connie — whose career was affected in some measure by an early brush with illness (likely polio) — and praises her last recording, saying that she sounds like a 'toned-down Wanda Jackson or Brenda Lee.' Fagen sends a kind of love letter to Henry Mancini, telling the composer of the theme from the television show Peter Gunn — a theme whose first notes every neophyte guitarist tried to learn back then — that his music continues to be young and fresh. Fagen vivaciously recalls his college days at Bard, meeting his future Steely Dan bandmate Walter Becker, and playing at a Halloween party with Walter and actor Chevy Chase on drums. In 2012, Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs toured as the Duke of September Rhythm Revue; during the months of the tour, Fagen kept a journal, included in these pages, that's filled with irony, sarcasm, humor, anger, and flat-out honesty about what it's like to be on the road playing to houses filled with aging hippies: 'Tonight the crowd looked so geriatric I was tempted to start calling out bingo numbers. By the end of the set, they were all on their feet, albeit shakily, rocking.... So this, now, is what I do: assisted living.' Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A witty, candid, sharply written memoir by the cofounder of Steely Dan
In his entertaining debut as an author, Donald Fagen—musician, songwriter, and cofounder of Steely Dan—reveals the cultural figures and currents that shaped his artistic sensibility, as well as offering a look at his college days and a hilarious account of life on the road. Fagen presents the eminent hipsters” who spoke to him as he was growing up in a bland New Jersey suburb in the early 1960s; his colorful, mind-expanding years at Bard College, where he first met his musical partner Walter Becker; and the agonies and ecstasies of a recent cross-country tour with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs. Acclaimed for his literate lyrics and complex arrangements as a musician, Fagen here proves himself a sophisticated writer with his own distinctive voice.
"One of the best accounts of an American life you'll likely ever read." -Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
As moving, disarming, and elusive as one of her classic songs, Composed is Rosanne Cash's testament to the power of art, tradition, and love to transform a life. For more than three decades she has been one of the most compelling figures in popular music, having moved gracefully from Nashville stardom to critical recognition as a singer-songwriter and author of essays and short stories. Her remarkable body of work has often been noted for its emotional acuity, its rich and resonant imagery, and its unsparing honesty. Those qualities have enabled her to establish a unique intimacy with her audiences, and it is those qualities that inform her long-awaited memoir.
About the Author
A cofounder of the musical group Talking Heads, David Byrne has also released several solo albums in addition to collaborating with such noted artists as Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Brian Eno. His art includes photography and installation works and has been published in five books. He lives in New York and he recently added some new bike racks of his own design around town, thanks to the Department of Transportation.
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