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4.1 out of 5 stars
51
4.1 out of 5 stars


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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 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 1 April 2015
Steely Dan before they were Steely Dan
To be honest I wouldn't bother unless your a serious collector and just want to have it
Quality and production had not yet started the Katz Becker and Fagen way
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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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on 5 February 2015
While indeniably of some interest for hard core (i.e. most?) SD fans, it is mostly a transcript of 1. some nostalgic musings on Donald's heroes, 2. tour diary (literally).
As long as you do not expect anything more, it will be a fun read.
He seemes a neurotic curmudgeon, but if that is what produced the music and lyrics we love, it is easy to digest.
We, the fans, are also in the process of developing that kind of persona, anyway.
I, for one, could identify with most of his statements on the state of popular music and the world, in general....
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on 8 December 2015
I am the worlds biggest Steely Dan fan. However this book (beautifully written) is a journey into Donald Fagins life away from music. It is an insight into Donald Fagin, NOT Steely Dan. Still a very good read, just don't expect a Steely Dan low down.
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on 18 March 2015
If Fagen ever packs in music he has a writing career ahead; his disillusion with playing live is sad
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on 5 July 2016
Donald Fagen of Steely Dan is one unhappy dude, and if you don't believe me, ask him! We know he is witty and sharp and we have suspected he is a misanthrope of the first order. And so he is, and these short essays and a journal reveal.

The volume is in two short parts - a series of essays on his musical influences (readable and insightful but highly suspect) and a terrible, meandering journal from a recent, non Steely Dan tour with Boz Scaggs and Mike McDonald. The essays are very good, one on the lesser known Boswell Sisters (precursors of the Andrew Sisters and much more original), another on Henry Mancini, a super one on sci-fi which is erudite, and a welcome corrective on Ike Turner. When he writes about things he's into Fagen comes alive. He is witty, incisive and altogether convincing. He is also a fantasist - he would not have travelled from Jersey to NYC and be allowed into a liquor serving jazz club in the Village at twelve. No way - just BS. It makes you wonder.

When you get to part two, all is revealed. Magen is a pure misery. He hates everything, his health is poor, his behaviour awful, his comments dull as dishwater. He is the King of Kvetch.
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on 3 February 2015
Not being a fan of Herr Fagen or Steely Dan I was initially reluctant to get into this book. I thought it was for the initiated only.
However, pretty soon you realise that this guy doesn't give a rat's ass whether you are a fan or not.
In fact, he probably prefers that you don't like him, don't know him, don't recognise him and don't go to his concerts unless you are young and beautiful.
His fans bug him. They're too old. Too grey. Too unresponsive (don't get him started on Canadians!).
Crowds (shock horror!) only want to hear his hits. Those that don't like his jazz output are "rascist" and probably redneck right-wingers.
Don't approach him for an autograph as he suspects you are just going to sell it on e-bay after verifying it with a Fagen und mich selfie. It's direct larceny!!
Don't try and film him when you're in the crowd at one of his concerts. That means you are a Palm Person who can only appreciate life through your mobile device. You are "a moron". Donald urges you to wake up and start living!!
Which is too late for the "TV babies" who comprise everyone born after 1960 (and ironically most of Senor Fagen's fanbase!!). These apparently are people who were raised by TV and not by their parents who were too busy not going to Steely Dan concerts and not listening to Fagen's oeuvre.
You see, Von Fagenberg was born before that year and was surrounded by people reading Dostoevsky instead of those poor post-Donald rubes who grew up watching The Fonz instead. Don't get Donald started. Back off!!
However, even if you went to a Fagen concert you are unlikely to meet the Godfather of Grump himself. He stays in his room fulminating about the world and only watching black-and-white movies or listening to classical music.
At times he resembles a kind of hip Howard Hughes!
But what's this? A 4 star verdict meaning "I like it". It's true.
Fagen is so dead on the money in his exposure of the phonyism, narcissism and downright nastiness of the rock industry that you end up rooting for him!!
In his defence, the last of the hipsters suffers from Tour Stress Disorder - lots of irritating people fawning over you (only matched for Donald by Post-Tour Stress Disorder - no one fawning over you)! He just can't catch a break!!
Truthfully however,instead of some sycophantic hagiography your preconceptions get a good kicking and readers have a chance to tour America on an ageing hippy bus in the twilight career of a man who feels his time is almost up.
They'd probably make the movie of the book into some saccharine dross starring Simon Cowell and Taylor Swift which really would give Donald a brain haemorrage.
Read it for its honesty and laugh. It might just cure you of regretting that you were never a Rock n' Roll star!!
Donny me boy. They broke the mould!!!
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on 24 February 2015
s a Steely Dan fan - we even got to see them play in Hammersmith maybe five years ago - I was pleased when Dave got Eminent Hipsters for his Kindle a while ago. The new Amazon sharing system means we each get to read the other's purchases, a system which I admit benefits me far more than Dave!

Eminent Hipsters is a book of two uneven halves. The first section contains essays written by Fagen about his childhood and adolescent musical influences and I very much enjoyed reading these. I was too pleased with myself for recognising names such as Bill Evans, but was mostly ignorant and scribbling down suggestions for later YouTubing. I think that the book really needs to come with an accompanying music download! Still, it is interesting to understand where Fagen's music comes from and his self-deprecating humour is entertaining to read.

I presume that the selected essays were deemed insufficient in volume for publication though because the book's second half consists of a tour diary. Unfortunately this doesn't bear much relation to the first half so I found the mid-way swerve disconcerting. Here we meet cantankerous old git Fagen who basically complains a lot about a touring lifestyle which he must surely not actually be forced into. Personally, I would have preferred more of the thoughtful essays and none of the diary.
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