Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Golden codgers

My review of Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat and Ray Davies's Other People's Lives has just been posted at WBUR Arts Online. As the title suggests, I got a real kick out of these discs, both of them by guys old enough to be--well, if not my father, then my cool and cynical older brother. (Maybe ripeness is all.) Anyway, I began with this:
"Hope I die before I get old," declared The Who's Pete Townshend in 1965, and certainly there have been times, during his drink-and-drug-addled middle decades, when he seemed determined to fulfill this youthful prophecy. Yet Townshend, along with a good many of his rock-and-roll peers, has survived into ripe old age. Some, like the Rolling Stones, have turned into glorified oldies acts. But a handful--like Donald Fagen (ex-Steely Dan) and Ray Davies (ex-Kinks)--may actually be poised to do some of their best work.
To read the rest, click here. And let me continue with a quote from Townshend himself, who recently gave a rare interview to Mojo, sounding very peppy and looking like distinguished gent with a hilarious secret of some kind. The interviewer, Pat Gilbert, asks the 60-year-old Townshend whether the Who can still make "a classic rock record." His answer:
We could, couldn't we? I mean we could do a White Stripes, I could sit with a drummer and just play electric guitar and I know it would be spectacular, because I play the most fantastic electric guitar.
Great idea! Bag the synthesizers! Back to mono! I'm going to conclude with a bit from Roger Daltrey, who also answered a few questions, touching at several points on the old hope-I-die-before-I-get-old conundrum. What were his feelings about John Entwistle, the band's virtuoso bassist who died, in flagrante and with a generous pinch of cocaine in his system, in June 2002?
John was very happy being John. It wouldn't have been what I would have done with my life, but he was always there when you needed him, and he was harmless to everyone else. You couldn't have changed him. We didn't call him the Ox for nothing. Two hookers, two lines of coke...and a heart attack. Better than the slow, smelly alternative.
Gather ye rosebuds, etc. You've got to love these guys.

Ah, love the "two lines of coke" comment... good ol' Rog!

(There wasn't that much coke in his gills, sweetheart)
Ray Davies is fab indeed (Waterloo Sunset,Lola,Tired of Waiting, et al, aren't just records, they're the encapsulated year you first heard each of them: take the pill and feel your voice change and your complexion grow bad)...but Ray can't claim to have invented an entire style of music like good old Donald Fagen did! And, to Fagen's credit (in the Zennest of ways), the genre he (co)invented still has yet to be adequately named. Smooth jazz? Don't make us laugh (or snore)! Fagen was the brilliant, grumpy idol of an uncle whose family I married into simply by buying those records at a time when my other hipster friends were into Lou Reed or even Mahavishnu Orchestra(!). Decades later, my post-adolescence gives off a warm glow as I look back and it's Fagen (along with Henry Miller) I thank for the radiance. For going on thirty plus years now, Fagen and his Art have both been aging pretty much as well as my taste in music has, which is surely no coincidence.
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