I won’t waste your time with praise and hyperbole of what the man did with his life, as there is plenty of that already to be found, and probably with greater articulation than I could manage. So, I’ll just give you the guts of what I came here to do:
I have recently discovered, to my great surprise and delight, a LESTER BANGS AUDIO INTERVIEW. Probably, as with everyone else who is familiar with the man, he exists purely as the gonzo zealout shouting his gospel from a typewriter, and visually through the medium of pictures and pop culture that produced the handful of iconic images available to us (like the one pictured above). So, it’s interesting to suddenly have this high-quality audio of Lester’s physical voice. I don’t think I’ve ever heard his voice before, and it surprised me how calm, cool and collected he sounded compared to the voice I created in my head. In the recording, he’s speaking his mind to a man with a microphone and pre-meditated questions(!), instead of a blank sheet of paper daring him to see how far he can run, speed-talking and jivin’ his way through an essay on the validity of how bad ass James Taylor, or the freak-funk episode of taunting his neighbor with saxophone blasts!
In addition, I would also like to share one of my most cherished mix CD’s that I have ever had the honor of receiving: A REASONABLE GUIDE TO HORRIBLE MUSIC by “Ed Wood.” It was passed along to me in my impressionable, and anxious teenage years, which as we all know is the best time to corrupt your ears with such beautiful noise. Anyways, tt was compiled in a way that pretty much acts as a companion to, or as a result of, reading a heaping stack of Lester’s most fervent articles. Most of the songs and artists here are the specific subject of many articles, or are at least referenced numerous times in his writing.
One of the reasons I particularly enjoy this compilation is becuase, it breaks one of the sacred rules of creating a mix (never repeat an artist) and it does so with great triumph as it happens multiple times, and without regret!
I know- sure, sure! You might find that you’ve already obsessed over these songs, or that you own all of the albums from which they originate, so it’s probably nothing new to you and that’s fine, but DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A GOOD MIX. In my opinion, the strength of an excellent mix comes not from the content, but from editing and arrangement. I can’t tell you how excited it gets me that a Van Morrison track from Astral Weeks dares to follow one of the longest, ugliest, and most abrasive songs to ever come out of New York. It’s genius! and it’s exactly the kind of bravado and undeniable musical taste that gets Lester Bangs (and myself) foaming at the mouth!
If I could compress and extract the tenacity of this mix into a little capsule, I would have been secretly dosing people with “horrible music” for years!