Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs,
Americaís Greatest Rock Critic
by Jim DeRogatis

by May
February 2003

 

First youíre going to have to break out your Rolling Stones vinyls, then visualize sitting with a younger Lou Reed while sipping cheap cognac for inspiration, and later converting to a little old-school New York punk (preferably Richard Hell and the Viviods). Youíre definitely going to want to wash it down with a little life and times of Lester Bangs. You got yourself a weekend of good times. Clearly this book has this surreal quality about it, that essence of being able to go through this story like you exist in it, being told exceptionally well through DeRogatisís fourteen years of researching, interviews, and devotion to finish the book for one of his own mentors. In fact, he was granted the last interview before Lester Bangsís untimely death in 1982; something as a simple high school interview essay implored him to devote these years into telling one of the most kick ass books Iíve read.

The story start with Bangs as a youth in a Jehovah Witness upbringing, being shunned by his mother for not wanting to convert to the religion in his teen years, learning how to express himself through William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski, Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, AM radio, and a few doses of Romilar cough syrup. Eventually entering the rock writing world through an MC5 review sent to Rolling Stone after catching a want ad asking for contributing writers and eventually going on to being one the best rock writers in history for Creeme Magazine. This lead into the unkind world of freelance writing for New Music Express (which came in handy for the English punk movement of Say What You Want!), Village Voice and a few other choice zines.

We meet the people he does, become friends with those who were peers, learn what to blow off and what to pay attention to, and what a kind and generous person he could be. It goes without saying that a moment could change his personality- depending on the nightís food and drink. The story is fast-paced, full of hard living, friendships, competition, the world of writing about music, passion for music, and most importantly what happens to those that are swallowed by the industry only to be spit out in the middle of a music crisis. An undaunted obsession with Lou Reed, gaining respect for works of David Marsh, Richard Metzer, and John Morthland, the shaky ground in which love landed his sneakers, and even his dread for San Diego/Detroit- itís all wrapped up in this nice cozy bundle called Wake Your Ass Up And Read A Freaking Book For The Love of God!

We all have some kind of favorite something- mine happens to be going through all the old classic rock writing because it was so incredibly honest, passionate, and at times raunchy- like the music was. Iíve gained respect for DeRogatis through this book; even his opinions because he writes about music like itís suppose to be done. The ability to read a book without having prior knowledge of a person is a bit intimidating, but you really get to know the person and times. Any person that is interested in the roots of music writing, or music in general should read this book, just go get yourself a book- and if you canít afford it, Iíll LOAN you mine after extensive amount of questioning on the topic of trust.