Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Donald Fagen's New Frontier

YouTube is a wonderful thing. It is now my go-to site when I need to hear a song I don't have a copy of in digital form and need to find fast. Since I don't have a "record player" I can't play my collection of vinyl. Moreover, there are some music videos that I'd just like to see again after decades have passed and the gossamer days of early MTV have given way to the huge corporate hydrant firehosing the Industry of Cool down our throats. The New Frontier video represents the former and not the latter, as I actually own this song on vinyl, tape, 2 CDs (one for my home and another for my car) and on the iPod. Instead, this video is one of the first to go beyond the cliches of the day, which included girls in red heels, post-apocalyptic Road Warrioriana, and lip-synching in construction sites. Check out the Elvis Costello glasses, the little watusi dance, Atomic Cafe animation, the Brubeck album cover. It has it all.

And the song itself? One of my favorites off my Number One Desert Island Disc. Donald Fagen's The Nightfly came to me as a freshman in college and was a revelation, that pop music could be evocative without being sentimental, could be beautiful without being - well, lame. I listened to it back to back to back often, particularly in the hot summer of 1988 when I slept on a mattress in the kitchen of a basement efficiency studio on S Street, NW in DC. It was my only happiness that didn't involve punk rock music, and was therefore even more special.

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