As a teen, my friends and I were mesmerized by the music of Steely Dan. Their sharp, slick-sounding albums are full of jazz chops and studio polish, but lyrically, their songs are more subversive than anything in punk rock. Their complex melodies and weird words still fog my brain today.
It's a treat, then, to get to briefly visit inside the head of Steely Dan's lead singer/pianist, Donald Fagen. His first book, Eminent Hipsters, is an eclectic mix of personal essays, music criticism, and rock star tour journal. In the first part of the book, Fagen writes, at times wistfully, about the various bits of '50s and '60s pop cultural elements that formed him--sci-fi novels, Ray Charles and FM radio mavericks (including Jean Shepherd, author and narrator of The Christmas Story.)
The second half of the book is his tour diary from 2009 with the Dukes of September, a supergroup of sorts he formed with singers Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs. Erudite, sardonic, and biting at times, Fagen's writing is a pure pleasure to read. It could make for a nice, cozy read on the couch this winter while playing Aja or The Nightfly on the hi-fi.
Brett @ Central