After Coachella, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen Is Not Psyched About Modern Music

Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen has been doing a Coachella tour diary for Rolling Stone, a completely unedited stream of his thoughts about the festival and its surrounding ephemera. One of his earlier entries featured a story about playing at Robert Downey Jr.’s birthday party and a claim to have never heard AC/DC. His entry about last Friday finds Fagen feeling bleak about the future of music.

Fagen felt like most of the music he encountered at the fest was a second-rate Bob Dylan rip-off (not entirely wrong), and wonders why there isn’t anything as “lively” as George Clinton happening now. He writes:

Like the previous Friday, most of the music I heard was in the c. 1965 Dylanesque mode, minus genius or anything like that. I’ve been hearing this stuff for more than a half-century and it’s getting pretty dreary. Jeez, that’s how I started out, more or less. I’m sure some of these guys don’t even know they’re doing early Bob. At least hip-hop, which is tough for me to listen to, has got a few genuine eccentrics with street energy and something to say. But wouldn’t it be great to hear something as lively as, like, George Clinton, or Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards?

Maybe someone tell him about the new Kendrick Lamar album, considering it has a George Clinton feature. Even a cursory listen of To Pimp A Butterfly might’ve stopped him from venturing into the broadly anti-technology old-man rant that followed:

Maybe something awesome will turn up. Or not. As the Empire declines, so does culture, literacy, and almost everything else. Ironically, high technology, once thought to be the savior of civilization, has become our Alaric the First, our barbarian invasion. Increasingly, it looks like life in the future will be nasty, brutish, and long.

This takes “Reeling In The Years” to an entirely new level. I, for one, am looking forward to my unavoidable future as an iPhone-wielding barbarian.

[By Karl Walter/Getty Images.]