Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Hipster Life from a Dan of Steely

I know I've said this before but I need to say it again - my family raised me right.

Thanks to my parents and grandparents, I grew up learning and appreciating many genres of music: jazz, classical, rock, blues, gospel, you name it. Thanks to them, I can pretty much listen to anything without cringing (there are some genres I won't mention that make my eyes tighten up like eating lemons, though!)

One band I grew up listening to was Steely Dan - that awesome blend of rock, jazz, blues, country and anything else depending upon the song. Thanks to me playing my mom's records over and over again, I knew the words to "Josie", "Green Earrings", "Hey Nineteen" and so on without batting an eye. While other kids were listening to the latest whatever, I listened to Steely Dan and thought I was cool . . . or really geeky. Okay, both.

When Steely Dan announced that they were coming to Memphis several years ago, I jumped at the chance to see them. As I sat at the Mud Island Amphitheater on a nice Summer night, I heard and saw Donald Fagen sing those songs that made such an impact on my life. Now, years later, I decided to check out his book, Eminent Hipsters, so that I could read more of what influenced his life and music.

Let me just say right off the bat that this is not your ordinary autobiography; although he does talk about his life growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey in the 60s, he also talks about the influences of his life, the "hipsters" who showed him the outside world of cool and what it took to be cool. From the jazzy soundtracks of Henry Mancini to jazzy singer and polio stricken Connie Boswell, from visiting Haight Ashbury at its birth to the college years at Bard and meeting his later musical partner Walter Becker, Fagen tells it all in the slim yet ultra groovy book. Eminent Hipsters is a must read for anyone who is fan of Steely Dan (of course), as well as anyone who grew up in the 60s no matter the location in the United States. You also get to read fragments of his diary that he kept during his tour with the band Dukes of September Rhythm Revue - a mix of chaos, panic attacks, anxiety, hotel ratings and swimming pool etiquette.

I devoured this book in one day (several hours to be exact) and now, all I wanna do is steal my mom's Steely Dan records and play them at home. I think now, after reading Eminent Hipsters, the songs will take on a whole new meaning for me.

So, go to your library or bookstore and get this book - you will not be disappointed!

To wrap up this review, here's one of my favourite Donald Fagen songs that is NOT Steely Dan. If I posted all my favourite Steely Dan songs, this blog post would be way too long. So, here ya go!

This song is titled The Night Belongs to Mona ~ 

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