Friday, March 8, 2013

Literary Notes on Donald Fagen

Only Bob Dylan and the Beatles, among musicians, have ever enraptured the literate and the literary, on literature’s terms, as much as Steely Dan has. But unlike the Lennon-McCartney catalogue, with its readily identifiable John songs and Paul songs, there are for Steely Dan no easily taxonomied tracks for Donald Fagen or Walter Becker, individually. Ever since the two of them began making solo albums, in the 1980s and ‘90s, superficial observers have smugly believed to have the code cracked--because of the superiority, and superiorly Dan-like quality, of Fagen’s albums. But there are some serious problems with this thinking.