Today on Tablet, David Yaffe talks with Donald Fagen of Steely Dan about his new album, the Jews, and Lenny Bruce.
Becker and Fagen loved rock ’n’ roll along with the harmonic language of jazz, and they didn’t think it was out of place to throw in a few very, very dark jokes, which Fagen says was definitely a Jewish thing for him. Macabre shtick was certainly connected to the world of his fathers—and his mother, too. “Major themes in my life,” Fagen said reconciling the Holocaust, Jewish identity, and a humor as dark as Kafka’s. “We were, through the jazz connection, also into Lenny Bruce. My older cousins used to have subscriptions to Paul Krassner’s The Realist. My mother used to stomp around the neighborhood for Adlai Stevenson. She knew all the standards and showtunes, but when I was a kid, I bought the single to ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ But then again Elvis seemed like the kind of guy who used to beat the shit out of me in high school, so I never had much of a connection.”
Check it out here.