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November 22, 2013 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen

Eminent Hipsters by Donald FagenEminent Hipsters
by Donald Fagen
Narrated by Donald Fagen

Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publish Date: October 22, 2013
Format: Audio, 4 hours | 38 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy
Rating: 3 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

Fagan begins with a little background on his early years growing up in a New Jersey suburb in the 1960s and talks about the jazz singers and songwriters that were an influence on him. He touches on his high school and college years and briefly mentions meeting Walter Becker, his future partner in Steely Dan, while attending Bard College. In the last part of the book he chronicles his recent cross-country tour with Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald as the Dukes of September, an R&B band.

As a long-time Steely Dan fan I enjoyed learning more about one of my favorite singer/songwriters. But in a way, the book was too short. Perhaps that was deliberate because it only touched on a lot areas of his life and in most instances didn’t go into a lot of detail. While mostly interesting, the material is a little scattered and rambles at times.

I particularly enjoyed the essays about his love of science fiction. (Yes, I did mention he got a bit random at times.) A loner in high school, he would escape into books, specifically science fiction. Many of the authors and novels he mentioned were refuges of my own youth and I enjoyed and easily related to this.

I already knew Fagan didn’t like to go on tour, but the second half of the book, a diary he wrote while on the road with the Dukes, really brings that home. It’s pretty obvious he loathes touring: The hotels, even the swimming pools at the hotels (hmmm), the food, the room service, the venues, even some of the fans. It annoyed him that so many fans wanted to hear only his old hits. This part of the book did get a bit cranky but was written in a humorous, sarcastic manner which gave me a few laughs. He was told by his people that if he wanted first class hotels and happy fans he needed to tour as Steely Dan, not the Dukes as the Dukes were not a big enough draw. After listening to an hour of this I began to wonder why he toured at all. I never did get an answer.

I listened to the audiobook which was read by the author. I have mixed feelings on an author doing the narration. With fiction, very few can carry it off to my satisfaction, but with non-fiction I’m a little more forgiving. Fagan’s narration was wooden at times but listenable, and with memoirs, the author’s reading gives the story a sense of validity. If you’re leaning towards listening, it might be a good idea to hear a sample of the audio first.

This is a nice introduction to Donald Fagan and as a fan I’d like to read more. The writing was good and I look forward to a more detailed future memoir.

Source: Review copy provided by Penguin Audio
© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Nov 22 2013 7:44 pm

    I liked Steely Dan but don’t consider myself a huge fan. The book sounds interesting even if it is a little cranky.


  2. stacybuckeye / Nov 27 2013 1:05 am

    It’s too bad it didn’t completely work for you, a real fan 😦


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