Lester Bangs was born in 1948 and he grew up in a family where his parents had little time for him with his father being a drunkard who battled with alcoholism his whole life. He had been to jail a number of times and he never interacted with his son that much. Therefore, Lester took an interest in music and writing. This is what kept him busy in the empty family life he led during his childhood and in his early teens. He almost became a vegetable from drug abuse at one point during his adolescence. He however, reformed and decided to go back to college and study journalism, something he had a passion for since his childhood. This is when he began writing reviews and critics about the rock music. His interest in the popular culture did not begin until the late 1960s when he began taking an interest in rock and roll. His initial interest in music was the beat (Busttillos 3). He began criticizing the rock and roll music and he published his work in the 1960s and the 1970s before his premature death caused by a drug overdose.
His work is one of the most remarkable among the literature critics of his time. He inspired many writers with his work and his target was mostly the children and the youth who found his work appealing and educative. The Metal Machine Music is one of his critics and he does not focus much on it until propped by fans on why he does not write about them. He has his reasons for not focusing on the music. For one he does not believe in the unique talents because he believes that anyone who has a guitar can make metal music. However, metal music can clearly never fit into the daily routine of the society and the political scene. The reason for this is that the music in itself does not have a clear message except for the fact it only helps those who have hangovers relief their pain in the morning. The pain is not too much when a drunkard wakes up in the morning, but it is bound to increase during the day. It is clear that playing metal music in the morning will prepare you for the worst to come later on in the day. This shows how inappropriate the music was as it could not help one build a positive image of the future, but only made things worse. The MMM is like acid as he says, it helps blow the bad shit out of a person’s heads and listening to it at least ones a day would help relieve some of the problems one faces. This is why MMM can never fit into the political scene because people would spend a lot of time writing lines and recording it to have time to anything else.
Lou has as problem with drugs and the society does not expect much from him. He has been in the industry for a long time and the society and the public do not take him seriously because he writes nothing, but jokes in his songs. The people are fed up with him and are eagerly waiting for his death from a drug overdose, (Lester, 1). This shows how the pop culture and its pop artists are not serious in producing music that will appeal to the society. They do not have a positive hold on the feelings of their fans because they never produce anything that is worth paying attention to leading to hatred among his fans. He damaged his brain cells with drugs and is not in a good position to write anything that can make sense. The other problem with the MMM is that is antihuman and does not provide a connection with the person singing it. This is not something the society needs. A computer with lots of electronic aids to help make the recording easier and make a great album records the songs. However, there is no personal link with the society because the person singing and recording the album does not have an emotional attachment with his or her song. The MMM does not fit in the political scene, especially in the democratic countries where people want to maintain a high level of sanity. This is because the songs do not promote independent and practice of democracy. Idi Amin the dictator president of Uganda loved the MMM record and even wanted to use as a national anthem. This shows how much the MMM was unfit for the society and especially those who were sane enough to understand it and integrate what it says. The music was constantly used in mental institutions to sooth the nerves of teens who had mental problems. This shows how purely insane the music was. The other problem with the MMM music was its promotion for the use of drugs ass Lou says that he has a drug that can retaliate the aging process. This is because he believes he is a tough musician who can live forever. This misleads the youths and encourages them to indulge themselves in drugs and homosexuality.
The albums released by the musicians like Otis Rush have no message to teach the youths and the children who listen to it as it only have messages of hate and revenge. This is not something the society needs, as it will only plant hatred and bitterness in the tender heart of the youth. The singing is so fierce and he evokes emotions in a negative way with the way he pounds on his guitar releasing all the emotions he feels into the strings as he pulls them. The musicians like Taylor are not role models to the youth who are so in love with their music. He does not care about anything and all he does is to record music that does not make any sense. He is carefree and this is not something the society needs especially for the children who emulate everything their celebrities do. The lyrics of most of these songs do not have any moral messages, (Lester, 14).
All they talk about is getting high on narcotics and having sex with anyone you can get in order to avoid being lonely. Lester says that musicians like Stooges are like a wave of sickness that carries deadly messages in their songs. The music is full of foolishness and crap and does not make sense to many people. In his songs Stooges sings about how lonely he feels and laments on how life does not give him the right to want anything. He therefore, resorts to taking dope and lazing around in the house because he has nothing to do. He encourages the youths especially the young men to go to the streets and sit around checking out the beautiful girls and drooling over their nicely shaped legs, brag about how much of a drug addict you are and so on as long as you are not lonely sitting in the house by yourself. There is no message here for the youth to go out and study or engage in any constructive behavior. The message in the rock and roll music is pure evil as the musicians encourage the youths to engage in risky behaviors with their lyrics. Stooges goes to say that maybe he will rape his wank-fantacy that night. This is pure immorality and does not have a place in the society (Kent 7).
The problem with rock and roll music is its lack of maturity especially from the musicians themselves who do not have an ounce of dignity and shame in what they sing and preach in their music. The audience is mostly embarrassed on their behalf when they go to the stage to perform and they end up making total fools of themselves. This is not what art is all about, as they do not portray any real talent that can help improve the society or the political arena. The posters like the enigma required to keep them in stage performing without the support f the artificial things that help their performance better. This is why the audience becomes bored with the performance after a while and the musician makes it worse with all the instruments and the loud noise, which does little to entertain the crowd. This shows lack of creativity as the only thing they sing about is how fucked up the world is and lamenting about their problems, (Lester, 12). This makes the show boring and even those watching it wonder what they are doing in the stage. The posters according to Lester do not have unique personalities people expect from celebrities. They are mostly spoilt brats who do not know how to handle anything except turn to drugs and look for easy routes out of their problems. This is why most of them keep singing about how they badly needs someone to love or how high they need to get in order to forget about their problems. These are the characters of about ninety-nine percent of the posters. These people do not live in the real world as they are in fantasizing most of the time and do not even have the brains to figure out their lives leave alone those of the lonely youths who listen to them all day. Their lack of sufficient brains to guide them in writing quality music to entertain and educate its audience is what makes their music so pathetic and not fit to be heard and played in the society.
The other problem with rock and roll music is the noise the musicians use in their backgrounds. The music in this genre is characterized by a lot of noise to the extent a listener cannot hear the lyrics clearly. This is makes it suitable for people who love noise and can tolerate screaming and plating of drums in high notes. Those who cannot tolerate the noise will find the music inappropriate and hate the musicians. This is monotonous to the listeners who cannot figure out what the lyrics mean (Kent 7). However, this changes over time as the noise begins to fade off and the lyrics a bit audible though one has to replay the album repeatedly before finally getting to know they are really talking about.
The performances of the pop musicians are nothing to celebrate about because at some point all the audience hears is the amplifier then all over a sudden the musician comes to the stage screaming at the top of his voice. This is what makes the whole performance and the albums unpredictable and boring as the musicians do not create any connection with the audience and the worst thing is that his fans cannot sing along because they hardly know the lyrics. Their performances are not consistent with some part of the song audible and the singer singing lyrics the way a real musician does, but at one point it is like they are murmuring and the crowd cannot tell what they are singing about (Lester, 8). Lester spent his years criticizing the pop culture during his time and his unique personality and love for music and writing gave him a good chance to take a critical point in the journalism world where his work was unique and gave him his identity among the literature critics. The pop music at the time was not well produced and the musicians did little to help make the society better because most were immoral and the messages in their songs were not appropriate for the youths and the teens who loved this kind of music.
Lester Bangs did not believe that the pop musicians were doing what was required of them by the society and the political arena because they never put in any efforts to educate the young people or influence the society in any positive way, (Lester, 8). Instead, the pop musicians and their culture focused on making music focusing on the use of drugs and lamenting about how the society was not doing anything to help them get over their problems. The culture did not provide what they society expected from them. this was caused by several reason s including the music produced which made little or no sense at all, the lyrics were bad with no meaning or message, the musicians themselves did nothing to make the situations better. This is because they used drugs and wrote music that was not appealing to the public and to those who loved rock and roll like Lester. The critics by Lester proves how bad the music was even though he gives credit where it is due like in the case of Stooges ho he believes is different from the other artists because he is not afraid to face the audience and acknowledged the bad music he makes at times. This is why his music is better and he has a bit of humanity left in him and his music.
The works of Lester goes a long in explaining why people were reluctant to embrace the pop culture. This is evident in how people never took Lou seriously because they saw him as a huge joke and this is what shaped the idea of the people when it came to the content of the pop culture. Though he does not point to the mistakes of the musicians, directly he addresses their weakness and how bad it makes them and their music look in the eyes of the public and their fans, (Lester, 4). With little to brag about, the popular culture artists do nothing to change how the society views them. They only make it worse by producing bad music and making the children adapt to uncouth behaviors that will ruin their lives. This is not something the society want their children to do hence the ill treatment and bad reception of the pop culture.
Kent, Nick. The Life and Works of Lester Banks. London: Guardian Publishers. 2002. 20(1), 5–10.
This article talks about the life of Lester Bangs who is seen as one of the world’s greatest ever-pop writer and critic. Though his life was a mess and he was a loner, Bangs had a huge impact on the rock and roll world during his time. He spoke the truth and was never afraid to write critics about the music made by different rock groups. Though he did not leave much of his work behind, he left a legacy emulated by many music and literature critics now. Kent in his article recalls how he interacted with Lester and taught him how to write and learnt more about the lonely man who later on became the idol of many writers. He was so in love with music and had a particular interest in pop culture and a passion in writing.
Busttillos, Maria. Lester Bangs the Truth Teller. Los Angeles: The New Yorkers, 2012
In this article, Busttillos writes about the life of Lester, recounts his critics, and works like the Creem magazine posts made by Lester in the seventies and in the eighties before he died. In her article, she takes a firm stand on Lester’s opinion of the pop culture and its effects on the young people and children. She credits him for encouraging her to read during her childhood because his reviews and critics of the pop culture at that time provided an insight on its effects on the society and the political scene. It was like guidance for the young people.
Lester Bangs. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. Creem. 1976.
In this publication, Lester writes critics about different musicians like Lou and the greatest album ever made. He criticizes the drug addiction of the musician and goes ahead to state the reasons why he never talked about the MMM in his previous publications. He quotes reasons why he thinks the music produced by the pop artists do not deliver the required content to the society. The other articles in the article also provide an in-depth analysis of other pop music done by younger musicians like stooges who in a way are changing the culture into something positive that one can listen to without getting irritated.