Meme of the Day: Lester Bangs Wannabes & Imitators

  • “The question [Bruce] Sterling brings up here has nagged Bangs-the-original and Bangs-wannabes since the first rush wore off: It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it, but is it art?”
    Ray Davis
  • “Too many [Pitchfork writers] are Lester Bangs wannabes, though each has less than half of Bangs’ talent for being interesting while not actually talking about music.”
  • “Though [Chuck Eddy’s] Lester Bangs wannabe style is slightly interesting, as a guide to picking music this guy is strictly an amateur who I can’t take seriously.”
    Amazon customer review of Stairway to Hell
  • “For nearly twenty years, the word ‘indie’ has been used by record company executives and pseudo-intellectual Lester Bangs wannabes, to the point that it’s lost all meaning. Since the term was originally used to describe punk rock, ‘indie’ should apply to all of its diminutive forms, but it doesn’t.”
    – samhuddy, What is Indie
  • “IMHO, it’s populated by a bunch of how’s-my-hair Lester Bangs wannabes who are better qualified to write reviews of the latest slim-cut jeans.”
    – VicAjax on Pitchfork‘s decade-end list
  • “This Chicago-based online apparel store relies upon the collective creativity of its diehard members to produce quirky t-shirt designs. The ‘Music Snob’ tee name-checks faux music genres (children’s hardcore or Dixieland techno, anyone?) that’ll trick any Lester Bangs wannabe.”
    – Rea McNamara, Gifts that Click (Eye Weekly)
  • “I’m not confused like you, twit
    You Lester Bangs wannabe
    There’s something wrong with you
    There’s nothing wrong with me
    There’s nothing wrong with me”
    – Lyrics to Of Montreal’s “There is Nothing Wrong With Hating Rock Critics
  • “United States Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter (MI) is Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee and a Lester Bangs Wannabe
    A Health Dirge Night: President Obama’s Lefty Health Club Band (Must click link to see best doctored Sgt. Pepper cover ever)
  • “Quite frankly, who needs us anymore? Do you honestly need to follow a Lester Bangs wannabe to tell you what’s cool when the entirety of music history is immediately available on Myspace, Wikipedia and your average MP3 blog?”
    – Impboy, message on Boing Boing post
  • “I could make up some metaphors involving edged weapons to describe the guitar work of John Reis and Rick Froberg, and some bludgeoning similes to express the crashing assault of Gar Wood’s bass and Mario Rubalcaba’s drums. But I’d just come off looking like a Lester Bangs wannabe, and quite frankly, what’s the point when I could just repeat what I said about the Camden Underworld gig and be done with it – Hot Snakes kick the shit out nearly every punk rock band you’ll see this year.”
    – Nick Cowen review of Hot Snakes
  • “In short, we’re fans and collectors (well, I’m the collector) who like to pass along information about the artists we enjoy. We’re not Lester Bangs wannabes out to shock and awe, and we’re not too-cool-for-school music snobs that lambaste everything in sight. There are plenty of sites that nitpick musicians and authors, so we’ll let them do their thing, and we’ll keep doing ours.”
    – “On Negative Reviews and Turkish Rap
  • “As a wannabe Lester Bangs for the teen section of the local paper, I kept my feet still, listening for the beat. Roth, too, remained steady, his neck grooving slowly with the rhythm, his lips softly mouthing along the words. ‘Isn’t this amazing?’ squealed the girl next to me. I nodded. This was good.”
    Robert Costa, “Asher Agonistes: The Suburban Rise of Asher Roth” (PopMatters)
  • “Morthland, for one, disagreed with my assessment of modern rock critics being sorry Lester Bangs imitators; he said the imitation was much more prominent in the 1970’s, when there was less of an established tradition. ‘It’s really common for rock critics of the last couple decades to say they were heavily influenced by Lester, tho’ I’ll be damned if I can see it in their writing.'”
    – “The Ghost of Lester Bangs“, by Ethan Stanislawski (Perfect Sound Forever)
  • “I am always perplexed by the fact that, whenever anyone weighs in on Lester Bangs, they feel the need to do a horrible Lester Bangs imitation. While it appears Mr. Leonard has been doing yeoman’s work covering the many different ways the Man is trying to keep you from your Internet, both his style and his interests seem out of synch with commenting effectively on L. Bangs, particularly a work of essentially speculative fiction on the subject of L. Bangs and what he might think of music today.”
    – Squiny McGuinty, “The New Ships
  • “And while there have been plenty of Bangs imitators over the years, Let It Blurt proves that there was only one Lester, whose stream-of-consciousness gonzo humor and drug- and drink-fueled prose was balanced by a rare thoughtfulness.”
    – Jim Walsh, Blurt review

14 thoughts on “Meme of the Day: Lester Bangs Wannabes & Imitators

  1. By the way, I really want to hear that Of Montreal track. (And yes, it’s generally acknowledged that I am a twit — i.e., a pregnant fish — so thanks for reminding me.) It’s not available on YouTube, sadly enough.

  2. I weighed in on this same topic on this forum back in December 2007, when I was concerned that Lester’s own writerly heritage was somehow getting mangled by so many scribes finding Comm . . . er “Lester Bangs wannabes” under every rock, but that doesn’t worry me so much now. Lester’s name, like Andy Warhol’s, has become a “meme” (as Scott has it) or “brand” (in vulgar Americonsumerism) that everybody and his brother are going to be quoting from morn til’ night, whether or not they’ve actually read the Bangsian canon. I guess I can live with that.

    In the meantime, cf. these intriguing totals from my spin of Google tonight:
    Exact matches found:
    “Lester Bangs wannabes”: 906
    “Greil Marcus wannabes”: 0
    “Lester Bangs imitators”: 3
    “Greil Marcus imitators”: 0

    Lessee, if a Greil Marcus wannabe actually existed, he’d likely prefer a classier term, maybe handed down from Squire Cotton Mather himself, so I’ll try that —
    “Greil Marcus disciples”: 0
    “Greil Marcus acolytes” 0
    Nope. Lester still tops the charts, 27 years after his demise.

  3. check The Hound Blog link on the right column. His latest entry is musings about his encounters with Lester. Worth reading.

  4. Oops. I searched the singular “wannabe.” Was supposed to search the plural. Here are those results:

    Hunter S. Thompson wannabes: 594
    Jack Kerouac wannabes: 106

    Looks like Lester still wins. However, Lester with the singular “wannabe” doesn’t do all that much better than his plural results.

    Lester Bangs wannabe: 998

    Still… damn!

  5. >>>Lester’s own writerly heritage was somehow getting mangled by so many scribes finding Comm . . . er “Lester Bangs wannabes” under every rock

    Lol, Richard!

  6. Bill, I have been trying to find you to get permission to reprint an interview of yours with Tom Waits. Could you email me?

    Thanks, Paul Maher Jr.

  7. That’s very funny, Michael. I was secretly hoping someone would take that name and run with it. For the love of Lester I won’t even claim the copyright.

  8. >By the way, Mark Kemp wannabe: 0


    Enjoyed your reviews on the Bottle Rockets. Thought your review of “The Brooklyn Side,” noting their “personalized approach to Big Social Issues,” was right on target.


  9. Just ran across an interesting comment in a Dana Goodyear feature on semi-beat poet Gary Snyder, in the October 20, 2008, New Yorker. Per Joanne Kyger, Snyder’s ex-wife, “There were an awful lot of Gary Snyder wannabes. His style of writing was very appealing in the seventies to young men looking for a poetic identity. He was a good example of a greened-out, dropout way to live.” Hmm — as with Bangs, Kerouac, Hunter Thompson, etc., cited above, Snyder’s another writer whose intense charisma brings out legions of wannabes, who might not match or even try to emulate their hero, but who may at least put their minds to writing something.

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