Can Buy a Thrill

Can Buy a Thrill
Reviewer: mdurshimer
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Eminent Hipsters:
176 pages
October 22, 2013
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

A witty, revealing, sharply written work of memoir and criticism by the cofounder of Steely Dan

It’s the summer of 1973. Television viewing is limited to the Watergate hearings, so this 10-year-old turns to the radio and promptly discovers Steely Dan. 43 years later, I’m still a big, big fan of the band that makes me think. And so did Eminent Hipsters.

Hipsters is not your typical autobiography and that’s no surprise. You wouldn’t expect that from Donald Fagen. After all, he was a child during the Red Scare of the 1950s and then a young adult who participated in the counter culture of the 1960s. What a dichotomous experience.

Fagen tells his story via the many musical and cultural influences of his time, including science fiction, radio shows, and Ray Charles. History reveals itself through the eyes of a lyrical genius. And when you can write the hell out of a song, you can certainly write the hell out of a book.

Confession time: I tried NOT to read the other reviews of this book on, but I had to because I had a feeling I was the only one who got this book. I was right.

A good portion of the book is a diary of Fagen’s life on the road with the Dukes of September, a tour he took with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs. It is less than complimentary of the audiences he encounters and clearly the man hates being on the road.

But, you have to dig a little deeper, consider who he is and what he’s been through to really understand what’s going on. I give you this:  “Information technology is a pure mindfuck. The TV Babies have morphed into the Palm People. For example, those people in the audience who can’t experience the performance unless they’re sending instant videos to their friends. Look at me, I must be alive, I can prove it, I’m filming this shit.” I gotta tell you, if I was him, I would feel the same way. Heck, I do feel the same way about the concert-going experience and I’m not up on the stage.

Times ARE hard for aging hippies like Fagen. I get it. We’re not living genuine lives – we’re too busy trying to share our experiences on social media rather than experiencing our experiences. Fagen’s words make perfect sense to me. Does that make me an eminent hipster?