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 accounts 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, noir-ish 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. Download and start listening now!