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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars

on 15 August 2017
Although disjointed - quarter autobiography and the rest is tour notes - it is brilliantly written and sadly is the only offering on the life of this true giant of popular music.
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on 18 November 2017
I’ve loved Steely Dan since the late seventies when I was at university (no fees and a grant..I’m a lucky boomer). I downloaded this as a response to the recent news of Walter Becker’s death and I really enjoyed it..funny, gloomy, neurotic, nostalgic...what’s not to like?
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on 8 November 2017
nice book - good stories

is it just my copy that repeats the first 66 pages after the end of the book??? Never known anything like it!
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on 11 June 2016
If you are amused by Fagen’s ironic song lyrics, you will have a good time reading this book. You will be taken back in time to get acquainted with the legends and medial currents that influenced mr Fagen musically during his formative teens and further into his successful years as songwriter and musician. He is an eminent observer of homo sapiens and the quirkiness of human nature is probably what saves his grumpy days. It’s a both interesting and entertaining narration and Fagen uses many humorous expressions that would fit as great song titles.

If you are a musician and/or frequent jazz club goer, some stories are hilarious and will put a wide smile on your face – like the "misplaced-girlfriend-in-a-jazz-club" scenario. In the tour diary section we get get to know a few downsides of maintaining stardoom on the road – dreary and slow hotel hours with TV, room service and solitude. Still, mr Fagen makes room for reflection on what made him tick musically in the first place and this is the core of the book. His ironic-cynical perspective of the world adds flavor to the story. While slowly sliding into the soon-to-be-60 grumpy existence myself, it is fun to discover you share quite a few of mr Fagen’s observations of the human species.

I notice that half of the book is diary notes from the Dukes of September tour. Would be a pretty slim book without these, so I understand why the publisher wanted to include this section. Perhaps mr Fagen is not that keen on writing books but still excels when he does.
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on 1 March 2017
Not an autobiography exactly but more a selection of reminisces, this book is written by the lead singer/front man of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen. Born in New Jersey, Jewish [I didn’t realise] in 1947 he seems to have gravitated to jazz very much against the grain. The grain being Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Polka Dot Bikini and Money. Even as a young teenager, he finds himself the only white youth in the New York jazz clubs and he seems to have been present at many of the great gigs; he saw Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Coltrane and Mingus when they were still discovering themselves. His mother seems to have been the influence here and his chapter on the Boswell Sisters of whom I had only vaguely heard is one of the best essays in the book.
This is the nature of the writing: a series of essays on subjects that have interested or influenced him. Sci-fi books and magazines; jazz; television programmes that are meaningless to me because I wasn’t around in fifties America. Cars; the usual. You can see where the lyrics and chords of My Old School came from. It’s completely different to the closely detailed writing of Knausggaard that I wrote about a few weeks ago. He doesn’t attempt to examine his younger self or his friends and feelings. If his father almost twisted his ear off, he isn’t going to address the issue now. On the other hand, he is sixty-eight . . . maybe he doesn’t remember.
If you are interested in this period of American music or how these major players became the original musicians they seemed to be at the time, then give it a go. It helps if you actually like Steely Dan because he is a little acerbic and as a reader I found myself frequently giving him a lot of latitude. Fortunately, I am a fan so it was an interesting read for me although his American hipster vernacular [‘I don’t want to be no jive turkey’ – eek!] became hard to take after a bit.

Quick postscript: I saw them live once; got the Steely Dan t-shirt to prove it.

Quick postscript: the cover of my copy has the genuflecting, This book is a piece of pure bliss – GUARDIAN on the cover which is absolutely hilarious since as everyone knows, the Guardian music department notoriously loathes and detests Steel Dan and all their works. Obviously the books department doesn’t talk to the music department.
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on 5 January 2014
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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on 31 July 2015
An eminently readable, very engaging collection of pieces from Fagen. It's a slim volume, ideal for passing a train or plane journey. The first half is a series of stand-alone pieces covering things that have engaged the author's attention over the years, subjects ranging from the Boswell Sisters to Sci-Fi, as well as relating young Donald's first encounters with the jazz clubs of New York and the influences and lessons he drew from those he encountered there.

The second half of the book takes the form of a journal, written whilst on tour with the Dukes of September (Fagen, Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs and a full band and crew). Here we really get a glimpse into one of the the two minds that brought us some of the most obtuse lyrics, and sublime music, of the 20th century. This part of the book alone is worth the price of admission. Fagen has a wry, resigned take on life on the road. ADT (Acute Tour Disorder) is present throughout, along with his (often unsuccessful) attempts to ameliorate its effects. Along the way we learn that many celebrated concert halls are in fact acoustic hell-holes, and have our eyes opened to the methods that hotel pool-girls employ to maximise your lunch spend.

In short, the book is everything this Steely Dan fan had hoped for: well-written, laced with wry humour, and full of insights and stories that throw light onto what makes Donald tick.
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on 29 August 2015
I love Donald Fagen's music, with 'Nightly' being in my top 10 CD's and Steely Dan one of my favourite bands. His lyrics are witty, sardonic, perceptive, droll and full of New York satire, so I guessed that he would write well. This is a curious, but eminently (see what I did there?) enjoyable read. The first part takes the form of Don's early autobiography, with part 2 being an on-the-road description of touring with the 'Dukes of September'. If you are a 'Dan-Fan' then you'll love this book, it may be a slim volume but it's a fun read. If you are not a fan, this is probably a book to avoid - listen to the CDs instead, starting with 'Aja' and 'Nightly'.
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on 20 September 2017
I love Steely Dan's music, but Donald Fagen seems to suffer form the American obsession with self analysis. I was hoping for a reflection of his cynical, clever views, but found the book to be full of whinging and self pity. Love the music Donald, but get a grip please!
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on 12 December 2013
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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