Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Did Lester leave a mark?


The always interesting rockcritics,com blog asks if Lester Bangs really had much of an influence on anything to do with rock writing here. Interesting to see the first reply was a vote against imitators and in favour of Dave Marsh.

Lester was, of course, larger in death than he was in life and squandered much of his talent by boxing himself in as a self-defined record reviewer who was unable to branch into other things. Of course, when he was "on" he was really "on", but most people forget he wrote some tripe too that even his friends wouldn't sanction as publishable once he was gone.

On balance, he really was a great writer as much for the fact that he was idiosyncratic, self-revelatory and flawed - sometimes all at the same time. Obsessive rants about stuff that didn't count held attention as much as his so-called more insightful stuff (I'm thinking his Stooges rants and his railing against Lou, which were also self-deprecating self-character assassination jobs.)

2 comments:

The Stash Dauber said...

myself, i'd say he influenced my own taste more than anybody but nik cohn. cohn was a tighter prose stylist, but lester introduced unfiltered passion, which can be hard to take at times, into the rockwrite game. most of the blog respondents seem to like marcus. imo, he's a pompous academic whose last good book was "stranded." personally, i'll take cohn, carducci, or cope over either lester or greil -- it's their stuff i keep going back to. but notwithstanding his debts to kerouac, burroughs, bukowski, and meltzer, lester cleared the forests and drained the swamps for folks who dig a certain kind of music. that would be, um, us.

Ed said...

Lester was the king of onomatopoeia. There were few writers who could so readily describe music as well as he did. He could probably never review anything but rock based music but his passion for something that he loved shone out. He didn't deify his subjects, he just loved his music and it shows so much.