Monday, 23 September 2013

Donald Fagen - Eminent Hipsters

Eminent Hipsters
Donald Fagen. Viking, $26.95 (162p) ISBN 978-0-670-02551-0

Andrew Wylie
29 July 2013

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.”

And the very latest is that Donald will do a short promo tour with five dates listed over at the Penguin Group's homepage:

* Tuesday, Oct 22 2013
Location: New York
Upstairs at the Square, Pre-sign books, On stage Q&A

* Thursday, Oct 24 2013
Location: Philadelphia
Pre-sign books, On stage Q&A

* Tuesday, Oct 29 2013
Location: Washington
Pre-sign books, On stage Q&A

* Wednesday, Nov 06 2013
Location: San Francisco
Pre-sign books, On stage Q&A

* Thursday, Nov 07 2013
Location: Seattle
Pre-sign books, On stage Q&A

Not coming to the Lit and Phil, then, Donald?