Thursday, October 31, 2013


Donald Fagen of Steely Dan has a memoir out titled EMINENT HIPSTERS, which he reads himself on audio, appropriately enough. Not being an actor or stand up comic, he doesn't animate the text much, and so mostly sounds like he's reading, the peek into his personality coming from a cleaner, even tone. Not as dramatic as Rita Moreno reading her memoir, (where you get to hear her emotions in every sentence), or Steven Tyler's memoir, (where you hear a massive ego expand into a weather balloon destined for the stratosphere), Fagen is more about self deprecation than ego, and has been a music columnist with an acerbic wit for many years. This might also explain why much of his work is so original, satiric, and introspective. Who knew that he was such a science fiction fan, and an analytical one to boot? The first two of the four disks are interesting because Fagen details his influences before and after attending Bard College, with sideways glimpses of jazz luminaries (overrated or not, like Henry Mancini), and others like Jean Shepherd---a magical poet philosopher turned movie maker and video essayist (Jean Shepherd's America), whom Fagen idolized until he saw him on stage as a needy narcissist. The final two disks include an extended diary of a more recent tour on the road as a "jazz geezer." It effectively shows why endless hotels and restaurants are such a bummer, punctuated by his thoughts on the younger generation ("TV babies"), his closer mortality after touring and taking drugs for so long ("face it, I'm a dead man"), and insights into various songs, like Deacon Blues. (He's not a Crimson Tide or sports fan, but fans didn't care "they just wanted to hear the name in a song.") The audiobook ends with funny commentary about things like ATD (Acute Tour Disorder.) A change of vocation is recommended as a cure. (Penguin Audio)

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