Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lester Bangs

One of our dedicated THC readers has written to tell me that I remind him of Lester Bangs "except without the NyQuil" (Bangs died in 1982 of an overdose from a drug mixture, in which NyQuil reportedly played a part).

Not quite sure how to take this, I decided to reacquaint myself with the oeuvre of Mr Bangs and after our review you can decide by answering the Survey at the bottom of this post.

Lester Bangs, born in 1948, became, starting in the late 1960s, one of the first renowned rock critics, writing vociferously, expressively and without restraint about rock music.  He's mentioned by R.E.M. in It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) - in the same line where they also mention Leonid Brezhnev and Lenny Bruce.  And I do remember reading him.

If you saw Almost Famous, you saw Phillip Seymour Hoffman play Bangs, whom the character based on the young Cameron Crowe (the film's director) sought out as his mentor.  Here are a couple of scenes featuring Bangs:

The music playing in the background of the first clip is Sparks by The Who.

  This next clip contains a great line from Bangs pointing out that rock musicians are "trying to buy respectability for a form that is gloriously and righteously dumb".
The real Lester Bangs was not as good-lookin' as Hoffman:
(The real Bangs)
In the next clip you can listen to Bangs slagging Roxy Music (as well as David Bowie (he comes in about 50 seconds into it)Bangs influenced a lot of today's pop culture writers.  Here are two recent articles (which also include excerpts from his writing:
The New Yorker, August 21, 2012:  How Lester Bangs Taught Me To Read
Slate, August 29, 2003:  The Skeptical Believer

So, now that you've watched and read everything:

Does Mr THC remind you of Lester Bangs?

A.   No
B.   Yes
C.   Yes, but without the NyQuil

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