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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sure, he's a Jolly Roger
A must-read for all Don (and Dan fans). He's not a happy man, for most of the time, and while he blames this on his age, you get the feeling that he's always been like this. There isn't a huge amount about Walter and Steely Dan in here, but that's fair enough: it's Don on Don. But here's hoping that the naughty pair will one day deliver the definitive Dan story. Anyway,...
Published 13 months ago by Mr. Toby Howard

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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Two very good essays, but uneven book overall
Published 14 days ago by MTB fanatic


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sure, he's a Jolly Roger, 5 Jan. 2014
By 
Mr. Toby Howard (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Eminent Hipsters (Hardcover)
A must-read for all Don (and Dan fans). He's not a happy man, for most of the time, and while he blames this on his age, you get the feeling that he's always been like this. There isn't a huge amount about Walter and Steely Dan in here, but that's fair enough: it's Don on Don. But here's hoping that the naughty pair will one day deliver the definitive Dan story. Anyway, this a great read, albeit a fairly short one. Do poor old hard-up Donald a favour and punt him a few cents. You won't regret it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Won't you pour me a Cuban Breeze, Gretchen, 12 Dec. 2013
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What a concentrated package of delight this is - everything I'd hoped for and more. A collection of essays which chart the esoteric territory of DF's 50s & 60s jazz, sci-fi, movie, literary and other cultural influences and then bring us up to date with his reflections on life on the road from a rather more seasoned perspective. Erudite, acute, and laugh out loud funny at times, this is a real gem from start to finish. He started out thinking he might become a journalist, and it's not hard to see why. But thank the Lord he followed the music.

There, I managed to write all that without saying "sardonic" once.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Did you realize that you were a champion in their eyes?, 27 Feb. 2014
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Eminent Hipsters (Hardcover)
Donald Fagen is the co-founder of the band Steely Dan, of which I've been a fan for the past forty-plus years. In spite of the excellence of their music, and all the memories and messages it contains, you'd be excused for looking back over that period and thinking it patchy: seven albums between 1972 and 1980, then nothing for twenty years, then a couple more albums at the start of the noughties. Plus half a dozen solo albums from Fagen and his collaborator Walter Becker. And a live album. A fan such as I would tell you it's a neat illustration of the difference between quality and quantity, but it's perhaps understandable that our attention wanders every now and again. And, whilst my eye was off the ball, Fagen published this book (in Oct 2013). Not only has he never done such a thing before, but a musician writing a book is usually - in the words of Dr Johnson - "not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all". Getting his retaliation in first, Fagen introduces the book with "You may be thinking, oh no, another rock-and-roll geezer making a last desperate bid for mainstream integrity by putting out a book of belles lettres". So - how *has* he done?

To start with, he's a better writer than the average rock-and-roll geezer (who surely wouldn't know what the word "vitiate" (p4) means); he was originally an Eng. Lit. major and, during Steely Dan's wilderness years, wrote some articles for Premiere magazine. These are included in the first part of this book: a close appreciation of Henry Mancini, and an intense, unrevealing interview with Ennio Morricone. The other pieces in this section range from reminiscences of the NYC jazz scene in the sixties to an interesting review of the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction, as shaped by John W. Campbell, the editor of "Astounding Science Fiction" magazine. In fact, you're close to forgetting what the author's other gig is, until he casually mentions (in an entertaining essay about his student days at Bard College) that one of his friends ("a painter with an outstanding record collection") in his first dorm was named Lonnie, which reminds you of that character in "The Boston Rag" off Countdown To Ecstasy.

Anyway, things are ticking along nicely when we abruptly jump forwards in time, and discover our hero is now the road with The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue (a venerable pickup band in which he shares the spotlight with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs), criss-crossing the USA on a tour bus during the summer of 2012. Fagen's decided to write a journal of the tour because, it turns out, (a) he can't compose music whilst moving, and (b) he's given up on reading books because he's "now at the age - sixty-four - where so many sad things have happened that [he's] too broken and anxious to read" (p89). If that quote hasn't given you some sense of his frame of mind here, later on the same page he explains why he's not going to post the journal on the internet. Fasten your seatbelts, folks...

"Why should I let you lazy, spoiled TV Babies [Fagen's label for the generation which came after his, which isn't intended as a compliment] read it for nothing in the same way you download all those songs my partner and I sacrificed our entire youth to write and record, not to mention the miserable, friendless childhoods we endured that left us with lifelong feelings of shame and self-reproach we were forced to countervail with a fragile grandiosity and a need to constantly prove our self-worth - in short, the sort of personality disorders that ultimately turned us into performing monkeys?" I suppose that's a reasonable question (even if the tone is a bit overwrought), but it's a little surprising to realize that, whilst the people in the audience (on balance) have great affection and appreciation for the performer on stage, the feeling isn't necessarily reciprocated. Thus, later on, he describes members of a (in his opinion) too sedentary audience as having "just crawled out of their coffins, brushed the dirt off and sat down" (p134), and elsewhere tells two members of the band *while they're onstage* that he's been imagining what would happen if the whole building went up in flames, leaving nothing but charred, trampled concertgoers in the wreckage.

Why such unhappiness? One reason appears to be his dissatisfaction about a world that's changed beyond recognition: thus, on p140, there's his recollection of a golden age (circa 1964) when "vinyl records sounded great", "anyone could work a TV set, even your grandmother", and it showed "lots of swell black-and-white movies from the thirties". He thinks that all technology has brought us is audiences "who can't experience the performance unless they're sending instant videos to their friends: 'Look at me, I must be alive, I can prove it, I'm filming this s***'". Fair enough, but you'd be forgiven for thinking his complaint about the "soul-deadening porn and violence" in today's media to be ironic when you recall that (around about the time of that golden age) he named his band after a sex toy mentioned in Naked Lunch.

So it's an intriguing read from a talented but crankily eccentric author, albeit (if I might be allowed a little complaint of my own) a rather expensive one: this slim volume has a cover price of £16.99, which works out at about 11p per page. You can perhaps see why those lazy, spoiled TV Babies might find alternative ways of getting hold of it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars is terrific: a series of pithy, 26 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Eminent Hipsters (Hardcover)
This collection of essays and a recent tour diary is every bit as articulate, astute and assured as one would expect (and that's just the words beginning with 'a'). The tour diary, in particular, is terrific: a series of pithy, frequently hilarious reports from the frontline of being an Older Gentleman Touring Gigster. Can't imagine DF being keen on the idea, but on this evidence a full memoir would surely be a delight...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable, 17 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Eminent Hipsters (Kindle Edition)
An excellent book written by one of my favourite musicians-Mr Fagen's sense of humour comes through loud and clear and I got quite a music lesson in the bargain! Well worth a read if you are a Donald Fagen or Steely Dan fan.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moody funny old git, 9 Feb. 2014
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As a musician myself I know what he's on about when he talks about life on tour, but boy can he moan! World class whingeing there. Excellent slice of life on the road in Fagenland, would have liked a bit more about the Dan but a little's better than nothing.
I'd say probably only for the committed fan
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars mad man from the dan, 3 May 2014
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Really enjoyed his take on his early years and in particular on his touring with the Dukes of September.
What is missing is the story of Steely Dan. Now that would surely get Five stars.
PS. When is Donald's audition for Grumpy Old Men?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As droll and as we'll written as you'd expect, ..., 6 July 2014
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As droll and as we'll written as you'd expect, with an interesting exploration of Donald's musical influences, and brief but intriguing insights into his personal life and perspective.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great stuff, 5 Feb. 2014
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Really enjoyed this. Greatly entertaining and intelligent read from a man we all admire. Would recommend to anybody who is a fan of the Dan.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hipsters and hippies, 5 Dec. 2013
By 
C. Metcalfe (CIRENCESTER, GLOS United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Actually the 2012 tour diary was the section that came over as least likeable - most of the time Don's in a grump, with the usual OAP ailments, real and imagined, coming to the fore, and a general but somewhat inconsistent swipe at the modern world and its inhabitants...having said which, it's a thousand times more interesting than most rock stars would manage, and does give an insight into the reality of (his) life on the road. The earlier chapters on childhood, jazz greats and adolescence in New Jersey (The Nightfly territory) were a joy and far more interesting than I'd expected, especially as they flesh out the college years pre-Dan, and his attitude to the hippies/1967/San Francisco ('it was fun for about a week'). He had a pretty good time as a student!
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Eminent Hipsters
Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen (Hardcover - 24 Oct. 2013)
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