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The definition of rock

November 21, 2009

Legendary music critic Lester Bangs routinely stirs me with his vivid and humorous analysis, even 40 years after the fact. But, this morning I stumbled upon one of the late music journo’s greatest gems.

For those of you who are unfamiliar or have only heard the name because of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s awesome portrayal in Almost Famous, Bangs is regarded by many as the greatest music writer of all time.

Philip Seymour Hoffman rocked as Lester Bangs

He backed up his obnoxiously strong opinions with some of the prettiest prose in recent literary history — at least in my haughty opinion.

In “Of Pop and Pies and Fun,” a Stooges manifesto from the November/December 1970 issue of Creem, Bangs offers this definition of rock ‘n’ roll that I was compelled to share:

“Rock is mainly about beginnings, about youth and uncertainty and growing through and out of them. And asserting yourself way before you know what the fuck you’re doing.”

What do you think? Did Bangs hit the nail on the head (pun intended)? What is your definition of rock?
Vodpod videos no longer available.

— Shane M. Liebler

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2009 9:53 am

    Sir Lester nailed it with that one.

    Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung is one of the best collections of rock-music criticism and notes ever assembled. No one parallels Bangs as a writer. There probably isn’t enough amphetamine in the world to make me write like he did.

  2. December 12, 2009 11:53 am

    It is an incredible collection that I’m revisiting passages from for the third time. Each piece is such an adventure. I don’t know how he did it either, but I love the way Lester invites the readers to experience his favorite artists and phenomena for themselves.
    The first time I read the “Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung” review, I got myself a record player and a copy of Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds so I could hear “I’m a Man” exactly the way Lester did.
    I still think it’s one of the finest songs ever recorded.

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