Saturday, November 2, 2013

Not So Steely Don

Eminent Hipsters – Donald Fagen (Viking Books)

Donald Fagen, one half of the duo that makes up Steely Dan is out with an interesting variation on the standard rocker biography. While most of these bios end up with the artist fixated on his exploits of a sexual, chemical ingesting or financial nature, I have to give Fagen a few points for Eminent Hipster not being focused solely on his manhood.

While the early portion of the book focuses on Fagen’s youth and his coming of age as a musician, I guess the title of this little tome should have been more of a tip off for me than it ended up, cause in the end Fagen still manages to come off as an over-privileged, whinny, liberal.

The section of the book where Fagen publishes his 2012 tour journal, detailing his jaunt with Michael McDonald and Boz Skaggs under the handle the Dukes of September starts out in an entertaining fashion, detailing the grind of life on the road. It quickly spirals downhill into a series of complaints about accommodations, transportation and the venues the band ends up playing, which aren’t close to the level that Steely Dan would find themselves playing.

It is his complaints about the fans who show up at the band’s gigs, as he derisively labels “TV Babies” who oddly enough attend with the quaint notion of seeing the three aging rockers perform the songs that made them famous. Apparently these folks don’t share the hipster vision that Fagen has for the ensemble who are out to perform classic soul and R & B numbers. It’s a little hard to take his bitching about the people who are buying the tickets and paying his bills.

I have never quite understood artists who feel the need to flaunt their liberalism (or for that matter conservatism) and downgrade what amounts to roughly half of the people who make up their audience. Fagen’s supercilious rant about Republicans is typical of liberals who think they are the smartest folks in the room. Sorry, but in the end Fagen ends up sounding like just another whinny little shit; eminent hipster indeed.

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