Lately I’ve noticed a new wrinkle on the American landscape: it seems as if there’s a whole generation of kids, each one younger than the last, all of whom live, breathe and dream of but one desire: “I want to be a rock critic when I grow up!”
If that sounds condescending let it be known that I was once just like them; the only difference was that when I held such aspirations, the field was relatively uncluttered–it was practically nothing to barge right in and commence the slaughter–whereas now, of course, it’s so glutted that the last thing anybody should ever consider doing is entering this racket. In the first place, it doesn’t pay much and doesn’t lead anywhere in particular, so no matter how successful you are at it, you’ll eventually have to decide what you’re going to do with your life anyway. In the second place, it’s basically just a racket in the first place, and not a particularly glorious one at that.
It almost certainly won’t get you laid. (Rock critics are beginning to get groupies of a sort now, but most of them are the younger, aspiring rock critics–like the kind on Shakin’ Street–of one sex or another.) It won’t make you rich: the highest-paying magazine in the rock press still only pays thirty bucks a review, and most of the other magazines fall way below that. So you’ll never be able to make a living off of it. Nobody will come up to you in the street and say, “Hey, I recognize you! You’re Jon Landau! Man, that last review was really far out!” A lot of people, in fact, will hate you and think you’re a pompous asshole just for expressing your opinions, and tell you so to your face.
Lester Bangs – How To Be A Rock Critic
Forever immortalized by R.E.M. in “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” (“Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs”), Lester Bangs was an unstoppable force – when it came to both rock’n’roll and life in general.
From his upbringing as a Jehovah Witness to his untimely death at the age of 33, this book (written by Jim DeRogatis) represents an observation of a short, but thrilling ride that Bangs life was.
Get the book on Amazon
Note – In addition to being mentioned in countless songs, Bangs was also portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Almost Famous”. See an excerpt from the movie below.