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Eminent Hipsters [Hardcover]

Donald Fagen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 22 2013
A witty, revealing, sharply written work of memoir and criticism by the cofounder of Steely Dan

Musician and songwriter Donald Fagen presents a group of vivid set pieces in his entertaining debut as an author, from portraits of the cultural figures and currents that shaped him as a youth to an account of his college days and of life on the road.

Fagen begins by introducing the “eminent hipsters” that spoke to him as he was growing up in a bland New Jersey suburb in the early 1960s, among them Jean Shepherd, whose manic nightly broadcasts out of WOR-Radio “enthralled a generation of alienated young people”; Henry Mancini, whose swank, noirish soundtracks left their mark on him; and Mort Fega, the laid-back, knowledgeable all-night jazz man at WEVD who was like “the cool uncle you always wished you had.” He writes of how, coming of age during the paranoid Cold War era, one of his primary doors of escape became reading science fiction, and of his invigorating trips into New York City to hear jazz. “Class of ’69” recounts Fagen’s colorful, mind-expanding years at Bard College, the progressive school north of New York City, where he first met his future musical partner Walter Becker. “With the Dukes of September” offers a cranky, hilarious account of the ups and downs of a recent cross-country tour Fagen made with Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald, performing a program of old R&B and soul tunes as well as some of their own hits.

Acclaimed for the elaborate arrangements and jazz harmonies of his songs, Fagen proves himself a sophisticated writer with a very distinctive voice in this engaging book.

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Praise for Eminent Hipsters

“[An] excellent. . . and satisfying memoir.  This is less about Fagen’s career than about his tastes. . .He writes insightfully about music, films, and books. . .with this remorseless, hilarious book, Fagen reveals himself as a first-class grump. . . Eminent Hipsters is also a convincing testimonial to the honing effect of a lifelong devotion to the culture of misfits, weirdos and cranks.”Rolling Stone
“Fagen is utterly charming when he describes other performers. . .he defends TV and film composer Henry Mancini from charges of fuddy-duddyness. . . his essay on Connie Boswell is the kind of top-notch, incisive cultural critique you ain’t gonna get from the likes of Keith Richards.  Just like the lyrics he penned for the Dan, Fagen’s writing here is charged with a zingy, acerbic intelligence.”—Slate.com
“As you would expect from someone who has been one of the most consistently sardonic voices of rock, Fagen can write.”—GQ.com

About the Author

Donald Fagen was born in 1948 and grew up in New Jersey. He is a graduate of Bard College, where he met musician Walter Becker, with whom he formed Steely Dan. His writing has appeared in Premiere, Slate, Harper’s Bazaar, and Jazz Times. He lives in New York City. Visit donaldfagen.com.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it cover to cover in one sitting. Dec 8 2013
By Rob B.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having known Donald in my teens I very much enjoyed reading about the parts I was aware of and the aspects of his life that I was unaware of like his many jaunts to NYC to hear live jazz in the clubs.
I kinda wish there was less of the inserted articles and more of the autobiographical. And I very much wish it was longer since I got through it all to quickly. Extremely rare for me to read a book through cover to cover, but I couldn't put it down except for the occasional stretch break.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steely Don Dec 17 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you love the album "The Nightfly", this book is a great read. A fascinating and humourous insight. A quick and enjoyable read that can definitely be re-read more than once. If you're a Steely Dan/DF fan who wants to dig a little deeper, this is for you.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Donald!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ironic Wit Nov. 30 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A lot of this book is really funny. Anybody who ever enjoyed Steely Dan's lyric tales should be amused by this. His bits about Ray Charles and Ike Turner are excellent. His stories of youthful sojourns into New York city to experience for real jazz music in it's final, long since evaporated last hahrah in actual clubs before the rise of the TV Babys is stellar. I especially enjoyed his grumpy old guy recollections of his recent touring experiences with Michael Macdonald and Boz Scaggs. His accounting of the shows in Vancouver BC were especially hilarious and having been in that audience, I felt he was speaking for me. A word of warning to anyone looking for reflections on Steely Dan. There are none, except for a brief few words about the song Deacon Blues. Best return to the albums or other sources for that. "Lonnie swept the playroom, and he swallowed up all he found. It was 48 hours 'til Lonnie came around". Indeed!
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