Lester Bangs.

7 10 2011

Everyone has the one person who made them realise what they want to do with their life. Everyone has that one person that gives them this energy and motivation to go for what they want. As someone who has a shite level of self confidence and worth, I sought refuge in frustrated writers and musicians from a young age. I still do, kindred spirits I suppose. If there ever came a time where I developed a lot of self belief/worth, I wouldn’t be motivated to write. I wouldn’t be motivated to listen to music and write about it. I wouldn’t do anything. I guess a level of arrogance would ensue and I wouldn’t bother anymore. I’d rather write from a personal angle than write like some jumped up Journalist who writes with no feeling or passion. Keep the self-doubt alive and write with feeling.

I learnt to write this way from a man who died 4 years before I was born. Before I left home to go to Uni, I was given a book by Lester Bangs. It was a book full of his reviews and rantings. I’ve read this book so many times, whenever I feel Writer’s Block is about to smack me in the face I read segments of his book and I feel I can write about anything. Now, whether I’m any good or not is a completely different story.

For me, Lester Bangs is the ULTIMATE Music Journalist. If he was around now, I doubt he’d (and rightfully so) be impressed with the current state of music. The way he wrote was from the heart and this came through with every single article he wrote. Whether he was slagging off Bryan Ferry or praising Iggy Pop; there was so much passion and rawness in his music. He wrote like a Punk rock artist. He didn’t show any mercy in what he wrote- that is what makes a fantastic writer. He wasn’t just a writer; he also fronted a few bands in his time too. His song, Let It Blurt is a fine composition. He had a way with words that no one else has ever mastered. He had a way of making you feel part of what he was writing. Say if you read a review on album he wrote about and you had never heard; after reading the review you felt as if you had heard the album. His descriptions were that deep and accurate. There is no doubt in my mind that Lester Bangs was and always will be the greatest writer of all time.

The way he was portrayed in the film, Almost Famous cemented my drive to be a Music Writer. He showed the real side of being a writer. The frustrations, the passion, lack of money, lack of anyone wanting to publish you- I go through this on a daily basis. I’d be lying if I said I never thought about giving up, I want to give up at least 3 times a week. I just read a part of his book or watch part of Almost Famous and carry on writing. The way his character talks to William in the film makes you believe that is exactly how Lester Bangs would have been if one was to have met him and spoke to him.

There are so many quotes in the film that mean a lot to me such as, “Be honest and unmerciful.” And “I’m always home, I’m uncool.” If you’re not going to be honest about anything then don’t bother. Simple as.  Everything requires honesty, lying is worthless.

His humour was dry but not cruel- he never wrote to shock anyone. He wrote for himself, he conformed to nothing and no one. Authority didn’t phase him. A lot of Music Writers slag off artists because they want the attention. They fail to realise that the attention and focus should be on what they are writing about. A review shouldn’t be full of negatives. For me personally, I don’t want to write a review on something I hate. I won’t review anything by Lady Gaga because I don’t like her at all- so why would you want to read something negative when you can search the internet for many positive reviews about her? I’m not a Musician, therefore I don’t have a write to say “Oh so and so cannot play, this is awful.” It’s the equivalent of me going to a school and saying to a teacher, “You can’t teach!” Writing about something I love and feel something positive about is what I do. Life is already full of negative and dull vibes; I don’t need to add to it. I don’t want to draw attention to my writing; I want the attention to be on WHO I am writing about. That’s how music journalism should be.

Lester Bangs didn’t write to shock, he wrote for his deep love for music. His love just poured out with EVERY SINGLE article he wrote. When you read his articles you cry with laughter, nod with agreement and applaud his wisdom. For me, he was more than a Music Journalist. He was like a mentor/teacher I never met. We all have that teacher in school that motivates us and makes us see what we are capable of- for me; mine was and always will be Lester Bangs.

His tragic death at only 33 was a huge loss to the music industry and just the world in general. If he was still alive, would he be writing? I have no idea, but he would still have that drive and love for music. I would’ve loved to have met him and just talk about music. From the genius of Captain Beefheart to the dullness of Bryan Ferry.

He was a true inspiration and without him and John Peel- I’d probably be some no mark who cared about nothing, no passion and barely existed.

So thank you Lester, thank you for giving this hopeless kid something to aim for.


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