City Journal Winter 2014

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Winter 2014
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Ian Penman
So Hip It Hurts « Back to Story

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Great perspective and insight--really well written
This seems to be a treatise on what Ian thinks of Fagen and his muse's, not the book.
This should be a stand alone piece in Rolling Stone, I have no idea, at all, whether the book is worth a flutter or not..LOL...
Charles David Edinger January 29, 2014 at 11:38 AM
Ian: Great review of an incredibly talented artist's musical autobiography. I've been a jazz fan since my teenage years and my mother was a jazz singer in clubs and on the radio when my parents met. Many of Donald's observations strike very close to home. I've seen the Dan 10-times over the years, and loved every performance. BTW, nice touch in capturing the feel of their liner notes in your review!!! I hope to see them many more times in my rapidly approaching dotage. Regards, Charles David Edinger
Gah, what a windbag. Honestly, what the heck did you think about the book? Last Steely Dan concert I saw a couple years ago in L.A. was full of these blathering, fawning, Fagen-wannabe SD Fanboys. Embarrassing.
Good lord, this should be on Pitchfork. Why are music reviews so pretentious and awful:

"earnest sentiment and antediluvian riffing"
"gnomic mien"
"midnight-cafeteria tans and their own hinky, Beat-derived argot"
"a monochrome shot, school of Winogrand or Arbus"
And maybe my favorite:
"Chart hits that got lost in a notorious park one night or missed civics class to stay in bed and read Henry Miller"
--What the hell does that even mean? You crazy songs get to be early, so you don't miss class in the morning!!

Those quotes all come from the first third of the story, because I couldn't take it anymore. The information I gleaned from this is that Steely Dan played music (which I already knew)and it was either good or bad and possibly it different from other things being played at the time or maybe not.
Btw: the writing is suited to the subject.

The bitchers ??? Fergeddaboudit.
Pauvre de moi ?
I still wanna know: who's Hoops McCann?
Perhaps echoing a bit of the impression that other commenters have had, I found the article quite enjoyable, however the author seems to be excessively smitten with wordplay in general, and with the author's own stylings and cleverness. The article was good, but had some of the over-the-top verbaige been omitted, it could ahve been great.
The writing here is so hip that it hurts my eyes to read it. Reminds me of the remark about M Obama's university thesis, "it's hard to understand because it's not written in a known language."
The article here is so hip that it hurts my eyes to read it. Reminds me of the remark about M Obama's university thesis, "it's hard to understand because it's not written in a known language."
I agree with the other commentator who said the article is almost unreadable. It's as if the writer were trying to be the literary version of the musical subject he is exploring.
Steely Dan's debut single was 'Dallas', NOT 'DO It Again'.
Fascinating. This article could be in Urdu or Sanskrit for all of me. I must be living in a parallel universe.
The Sanity Inspector January 20, 2014 at 5:18 PM
Marvelous, marvelous article--I'm almost afraid to read the book, for fear of disappointment!
I enjoyed the review and have spent the day listening to Steely Dan, which I'd always liked, in a casual way. But, can you do the Amazon "if you like Steely Dan, you'll like __" so I can get expand my playlist? :)
The perfect self-indulgent, self-important review of a self-indulgent,
self-important pair of know-it-alls with an all-to-rare streak of brilliance.
I grew weary about half-way through, sorta like listening to a lot of Steely Dan.
I'm looking forward to reading this book, your review is wonderfully enticing, growing up during those years"seeking as a seeker seeks" (there's those damn quotation marks) listening to this music, educated formally in jazz, living an adventure that continues to this day, relevance and parallelism truly impels me...
Scott Smith's comments are right on target. Listening today (on vinyl, of course), it's hard to imagine the dedication and hours of work that must have gone into the writing, the scoring, the recording and the mixing of each Steely Dan song. Becker and Fagen were (are) perfectionists in a realm where "close enough - studio time costs money!" was so often the standard.
This article is virtually un-readable. Talk about hipster writing!
Although never a jazz enthusiast, I greatly enjoyed the arc of Steely Dan's output from accomplished pop-oriented radio band to ever-evolving Becker-Fagen studio project. These guys were so good because they never took the proverbial play off. Every cut on every record was well-thought out and artfully executed. Wrecking Crew-type musicians, incredibly tight arrangements, no filler ever. When my three kids were little, they loved the cover of "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo, giggling with enjoyment when they heard it and calling it "The Funny Song". To hear musicians who are absolute masters of their instruments, one need go no further than Larry Carlton's guitar playing on "Kid Charlemagne" or Steve Gadd's drumming on "Aja". You could reflexively label Becker and Fagen as cynics given the lyrics in their work, but these guys cared enough and had the discipline to ensure the wares they offered for sale were only the very best. Together, they were both artists and craftsmen - with neither trait compromising the other.
They made a movie of "On the Road with Alvy Singer," called "Wild Man Blues"!

Thanks for this review, which is, I believe, longer than the book.
Only a fool would say that.
I look forward to reading Fagen's book. Much as I admire and enjoy Steely Dan's music, I consider Fagen's solo album "The Nightfly" a masterpiece — every note is perfect, even on the hundredth listening.