The press release that went out in advance of Donald Fagen's newest solo album, Sunken Condos, is the most exhaustive one I have ever seen in recent memory.
I thought I knew the gist of Fagen's career, from his jazz beginnings, his Steely Dan catalog, and his solo work, but I didn't. I now know more about Fagen than I ever thought I ever would. And it only took 1,652 words.
We here at Rocks Off get hundreds of PR emails a week. Some are boring, some are awesome, some bring ho-hum news, others make us jump out of our seats. Fagen's had me in my seat for some time.
Oddly enough I had bought a copy of his 1981 album The Nightfly this past weekend at Cactus Music, so I had Fagen on the brain. Hell, I have Steely Dan on the brain at least once a week.
Things I learned from the 1,652-word epic about Mr. Donald Fagen:
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- Jerry Fagen, Donald's dad, was a C.P.A. working for a large accounting firm in New York City at the time of little Don's birth.
- Mrs. Fagen used to sing under the name Ellen Ross in the Catskills.
- Fagen's family bought their first TV set in 1955.
- Donald discovered jazz and gave his R&B collection to his little sister Susan, and then became a ferocious jazz snob and all-around junior hipster.
- He was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club.
- At jazz haunt the Village Vanguard, Max Gordon put him at the banquette by the drums and served him sweet, flat bar Cokes.
- Donald's musical progress was hampered by a hyperactive disorder or ADD, or whatever they're calling it now.
- He and Walter Becker -- soon to form Steely Dan -- listened to records on huge Ampex studio monitors that Walter set up in his dorm room.
- The pair's work space at ABC-Dunhill Records in L.A. was just a tiny office containing a desk and a piano.
- Music mogul Irving Azoff helped manage the band around the time Pretzel Logic was released. Azoff would go on to yell at Craig Hlavaty of the Houston Press in late 2010 over the phone in a matter concerning the Eagles' Don Henley.
- Both Aja and Gaucho were nominated for Grammy Awards for Album of the Year.
- Becker lived in Hawaii in the '80s. That's rad.
- The Nightfly was recorded using then brand-new digital recording technology in 1981.
- In 1984, Fagen received an honorary Doctorate of Arts from his alma mater, Bard College.
- Fagen wrote a song for the Heavy Metal soundtrack? That's rad too, and weird.
- Steely Dan's album Two Against Nature won four Grammy awards, including Album of the Year, beating out Beck, Radiohead, and Eminem, instilling an intense hate of Steely Dan in impressionable junior hipsters everywhere.
- Fagen's Sunken Condos will be released on Tuesday, October 16 2012.
- Word is that, from now on, everything Donald does has got to be funky.