A Christmas Story Raconteur Spoke to Misfit Generation

Jean Shepherd made growing pains a little easier in the '50s and '60s" musician Fagen
By Victoria Floethe,  Newser User
Posted Dec 26, 2008 4:20 PM CST

(Newser) – Listening to Jean Shepherd, the radio raconteur whose writings inspired A Christmas Story (and who did the voice-over), “I learned about social observation and human types,” musician Donald Fagen writes for Slate. For “the true horror of helpless childhood,” and a realism that countered the feel-good, Disney bunk pushed by 1950s and ‘60s media, Fagen found Shepherd’s late-night tropes enthralling—so much so he almost failed out of high school.

In between his Depression-era tales, Shepherd would play the kazoo, sabotage commercials, and get his listeners—the “gang”—to help him pull public pranks on “squares.” Sadly narcissism got the better of Shep, the talented but inveterate outsider, and Fagen’s idol fell from his pedestal: “It’s possible that Shep’s greatest lesson to the gang wasn’t just ‘things are not what they seem’ but rather ‘things are not what they seem—including me.’”