Robert Downey Jr. On Steely Dan and The Essence Of Cool

I saw this thing on RollingStone.com, written by Donald Fagen

You did?

It’s a tour diary because they’re going to go play Coachella — Steely Dan are. And he says, to warm up, they played the 50th birthday party of a rather well-known actor with the initials RDJ.

[Laughs.]

I mean this as a compliment, but your birthday party sounds like a Steely Dan song. How was it?

It was … I still only have vague recollections of it, because it was such a mind-blowing affair to see. I can’t even describe my affinity for Steely Dan, Fagen and [Walter] Becker, and each and every person that’s ever played on any of their albums.

It’s the easy/hard listening. Reading some of your past interviews — and this could be a false narrative — it seems like at one point, maybe beforeWinter Soldier, like turning 50 was a deterrent to keep doing Iron Man, and then somewhere around there it becomes a catalyst.

OK.

You buy that at all?

I enjoy your false narrative. Let’s go with it. There’s always a resistance as you approach imaginary boundaries. And sometimes they can be accelerators. To say it’s just a number is to be one of those people who has contempt for things they’re afraid of. To a certain extent … it certainly meant something to me on Friday. I think it meant something on Sunday. During the day of [my birthday], we were just getting ready to go host this experiential … kind of retro-futuristic vibe we wanted for this party —

I think Nehru jackets were mentioned.

Really!?

Yeah, it kind of reads like Steely Dan liner notes.

[Laughs.] While that particular integer is incorrect, it does speak to the larger requirement list, [and] there were many quote-unquote requirements. Anyway, what I forgot was that I was going to have the experience too. I think because I’m married to a very effective, loving woman who’s also a producer, often times we feel like we host these things — whether they’re for one or the other or both of us or something else — and that we kind of realize afterward that we were actually in the experience too. 

Yeah.

But going back to Steely Dan. There’s nothing like seeing Becker verbally improvise along something, where you go, “I know they’re going to go back into the song; I know they’re going to hit that beat,” and it’s so cool. And also when Fagen walks out after the band is kind of prepped, just by playing level-11 jazz fusion, you’re just like, “Oh my god.” And then he steps out and sits down at his electric keyboard. I also noticed, too, that when you’re that … there are people who want to be hip and want to be cool. And then there are people who have ceased any attachment to that and yet they are so, to their core, that.

Via Grantland