Steely Dan: Fagen on Dylan, New Tour and Possibly New Music

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Posted August 2, 2013 by J Matthew Cobb in Features
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Dan fans learn about Donald Fagen’s real feelings about his most recent controversial Rolling Stone interview, a new tour with Steely Dan and the idea of new music to come

After an interview with Rolling Stone‘s Andy Greene, which turned the dark humor of Donald Fagen into laughing gas for the controversial mag, the prominent half of Steely Dan jumped on Facebook to clear the airwaves. He has lots of respect for Dylan, major love for Michael McDonald and has nothing but respect for seniors (he’s one himself), but the print version – shorter than the actual online copy – painted Fagen as a wise cracker with little respect for all three. “There’s been a little confusion about some things I said – or didn’t say – so I’d like to clarify,” he writes. “The interview was supposed to be about drumming up business for Steely Dan’s summer tour. Walter Becker and I were originally scheduled to do the interview together on the phone, but it got botched up and we ended up talking to Greene separately.”

Fagen went on to say that he was widely misinterpreted by the mass media. “Greene said he enjoyed the piece and we talked about it for a bit. Mike (McDonald) and Boz (Scaggs) never even came up. Nevertheless, the next day, on a bunch of tabloid sites, I see this: Donald Fagen blasts boring Dylan, McDonald & Scaggs.” (Read Fagen’s entire response to the RS piece)

Fagen is no Bob Dylan hater, but the RS piece made him look like a seasoned heckler. “For a moment, forgetting I was talking to a reporter, I started joking about the recent albums that always seem to have several, long blues-based tunes in minor keys,” he wrote. “The lyrics are always great, but the tunes have limited musical interest, perhaps because Dylan needs to accommodate his damaged voice. Because Bob has meant so much to us for so long, because he’s astonished us for so long, maybe we feel we can kid him as if he were family.” Fagen went on the record to say that the conversation was a “big mistake.”

As once mentioned, Fagen will reunite with songwriting partner and guitarist Walter Becker for The Mood Swings: 8 Miles to Pancake Day tour, a 53-date, summer-long tour US voyage that extends all the way to the tails of early October. Select dates will offer complete performances of full albums of Aja, Gaucho and The Royal Scam – three classic albums from the Fagen/Becker songbook recorded from 1976 to 1980. Tour dates have been posted at the band’s official website.

Fagen went on record to hint that a possible follow-up to the group’s last album, 2003’s Everything Must Go, might be in the works. “We’ve been talking,” he says. “We always talk about it on airplane rides. Usually we forget what we talked about before we do anything about it. But yeah, we actually had a conversation about it the other day, so who knows?”


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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