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Jim Morrison, Oafus Laureate
September 30, 2012 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Lester Bangs, rock critic extraordinaire and pop provocateur, made the argument for the Lizard King as the punk rock godfather in this 1981 Creem magazine defense of Jim Morrison., via Dangerous Minds.
posted by Isadorady (38 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
well, of course jim morrison sounded like an asshole - he's a rock and roll star
posted by pyramid termite at 2:31 PM on September 30, 2012


And an asshole
posted by howfar at 2:32 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


and he made sound
posted by pyramid termite at 2:35 PM on September 30, 2012


Duh. He's the Lizard King, he can do anything. Present tense because, as I'm sure we're all aware, Jim is alive and well presiding over his most favored disciples deep, deep in the Everglades.
posted by MikeMc at 2:38 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was pretty weak. Probably written to troll punks, which is an amusing thing to do, but mostly instructive as a warning to the future not to write rock 'criticism'.
posted by thelonius at 2:40 PM on September 30, 2012


Why was Jim Morrison buried in a 10 foot coffin?




To accommodate his dunce cap.

- Neil Hamburger "Hot February Night"
posted by wcfields at 2:42 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's right about Iggy Pop. To quote Wikipedia:
The seeds of Iggy Pop's stage persona were sown when he saw The Doors perform in 1967 at the University of Michigan and was amazed by the stage antics and antagonism displayed by singer Jim Morrison.
There's citations and everything.
posted by iotic at 2:44 PM on September 30, 2012


One of the scorchinest numbers out of early 80's punk was X doing Soul Kitchen, so yeah.
posted by telstar at 2:48 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Weren't Siouxsie Sioux, Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen, and a whole bunch of post-punkers really big Jim Morrison fans? Vocally speaking, the entire goth genre sounds a lot like a Jim Morrison Appreciation Society, anyway. If you listened to "college rock" in the 1980s, there were lots of vocalist with Morrisonesque vocals.
posted by jonp72 at 2:51 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think there is certainly a good argument that everything about Morrison's style was influential. The reason so many people have a problem with him is that he was a writer and performer entirely lacking in substance. Bangs wasn't wrong, he just chose to ignore a criticism to which he had no answer.
posted by howfar at 2:55 PM on September 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why was Jim Morrison buried in a 10 foot coffin?
To accommodate his dunce cap.

- Neil Hamburger "Hot February Night"


Gregg Turkington is a genius.

- Nobody "Ever"
posted by MikeMc at 3:05 PM on September 30, 2012


This thread is total jonmc bait
but jonmc will have to wait
like a dog without a bone
a Mefite who's out on loan
riders on the storm.
posted by item at 3:15 PM on September 30, 2012


Has anyone here read the book on the Doors by Lester's good friend and editor, Greil Marcus? Thoughts?
posted by dr. zoom at 3:15 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]



That was pretty weak. Probably written to troll punks, which is an amusing thing to do, but mostly instructive as a warning to the future not to write rock 'criticism'.

Lester Bangs didn't need to troll punks. Mainly because he wrote before trollling became the way attention getters had a platform
And how was it weak? Bangs didn't need to play up to anyone, because, like what he said or not, the man was one of the last great rock critics. He spoke from a rock and roll heart.
posted by Isadorady at 3:17 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow that's almost unreadable. That's a dude clearly obsessed with how he's saying something instead of what he's saying. That's awful.
posted by xmutex at 3:39 PM on September 30, 2012


Xmutex: in the days before there was internet, Bangs was either the King of Rock journalists or the Father of Trolls. I used to read him weekly, and it would send me into conniptions. Christigau at least tried to know what he was talking about.
posted by zaelic at 3:46 PM on September 30, 2012


I didn't realize that Christgau-bashing was already a thing as far back as 1981.
posted by Slothrup at 3:50 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am familiar with Mr. Bangs' body of work. I've read the Bangs anthology. There's some good stuff in there; this half-assed piece, with its little drive-by snipe at Warren Zevon, fails to impress. YMMV.
posted by thelonius at 3:59 PM on September 30, 2012


Maybe that's what's bothering me - the Zevon thing. I actually thought Bangs had better taste than that.
posted by thelonius at 4:01 PM on September 30, 2012


I don't mean to get all Will Strunk on your asses, but there was way too much "spontaneous me" in that piece. Dude's a rock critic, I know, but come on. Rampant egoism. Maybe he was coked-up.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 4:06 PM on September 30, 2012


Lester Bangs is overrated. Jim Morrison is underrated. I wonder how much better his reputation would be these days if Oliver Stone hadn't squeezed out that terrible movie. I can trace my own break with the Doors to the day I saw it.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:11 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Robert Christgau intellectualized everything in rock. Not that I didn't appreciate him in the VV, but Bangs was visceral. He came from working class and it showed, even when he was quoting Baudelaire or other, then esoteric, writers in his work. He loved rock music, but he saw through the emperor's clothes. He WAS perhaps obsessed with how he said things, but that obsession did not block out the genius of what he said.

Griel Marcus, certainly one of the more intellectual music journalists of the same time period, adored Bangs.

I agree this isn't Bangs' best piece, but I would rather read Bangs worst writing than most of what passes for music criticism these days.

As far as Zevon goes-Bangs may have lauded him in the next review. Or said he sucked.

I like Peter Buck's take on him.
posted by Isadorady at 4:12 PM on September 30, 2012


> Maybe he was coked-up

On exactly whatever it was Hunter S. Thompson was coked up on, he hoped. Sincerest form of flattery.
posted by jfuller at 4:16 PM on September 30, 2012


Who’s to say the “bubble gum” / “parody” in the third and fourth Doors albums, so dismaying to early believers, was not entirely intentional, premeditated, one juncture in a vast strategy of liberation?

This was one bit where I thought he actually came close to nailing it, because if I think back tor the very brief window of time when I thought the Doors were super-cool (i.e. age 15), I thought "Touch Me" was some kind of lame, horrible mega-sellout moment of the badass shamanistic lizard rock gods they were supposed to be. Now that I'm older and less benighted and have no stake in their coolness at all, it just seems like a pretty great well-crafted pop tune, and however little I think of Morrison as a writer I don't think he was too dumb to be self-aware in playing against his image on that song.
posted by anazgnos at 4:32 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think he was a pill guy, and a boozer. He probably Hoovered up his share of blow too, though.

His piece on New Year's Eve changed my life; I had never before seen anyone articulate that it basically sucks, every year. People who do not dig NYE tend to assume that this is their fault, but Bangs was too smart for that shit. Now, I ignore the holiday if I feel like it, and I've been a lot happier since I abandoned the fantasy that it's a disaster if I don't have some absolutely magical and unique and romantic adventure (which usually seems to end in someone vomiting) every Dec 31.
posted by thelonius at 4:39 PM on September 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bangs was at his best when he was baiting J. Giels.
posted by sourwookie at 4:41 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lester Bangs: The Doors? Jim Morrison? He's a drunken buffoon posing as a poet.
Alice Wisdom: I like The Doors.
Lester Bangs: Give me The Guess Who. They've got the courage to be drunken buffoons, which makes them poetic.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:42 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given the Iggy Pop/Morrison connection, this isn't really too much of a stretch. Given the better view from a few decades on, the course of American hardcore and punk does owe more than just "it was a response to the dinosaurs" to Morrison.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:07 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


In a way Jim was really the end of the Masculine Mystique as celebrated American culture up to and through rock ‘n’ roll,

Oh, if only.
posted by Mezentian at 5:35 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like old Iggy and old Siouxsie more than I like old Jim, but Break on Through is still a great rocker. I think Bangs is right in characterizing Morrison as a Beat poet, with all the inconsistency and occasional incoherence that entails. Regardless of what you think of him, Morrison was in fact a drunken buffoon more often than he was a capable rock performer.

I love Bangs. I agree more with what Christgau said, and I think he was more intelligent than Bangs, but Lester was a much more daring, humorous, and entertaining writer than the clueless Christgau.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 5:35 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please don't get me started on Lester Bangs... oh, okay...

(and the Christgau yin/yang dynamic was hilarious)...
posted by ovvl at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2012


NOW I finally get it - every summer, we get a batch of interns at the magazine I work for, and every summer there's at least one guy who submits articles where he seems to be in love with his own voice, makes the article about himself, engages in precious and insufferable verbal acrobatics and now, finally, I know why. I'm sure Bangs wrote better than this, or the people whose opinions I respect who've told me they love Bangs are all suffering from collective bad taste, but I can totally see how this writing would sound if partially digested and regurgitated by a college sophomore.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:07 PM on September 30, 2012


Jim’s violence is cool school: “Hey, listen, man I really got a problem. When I was out on the desert, ya know, I don’t know how to tell you, but, ah, I killed somebody. No…it’s no big deal, ya know. I don’t think anybody will find out about it, but, ah…Let your children play… this guy gave me a a ride, ah ah, If you give this man a ride…started giving me a lot of trouble, sweet family will die, and I just couldn’t take it, ya know? Killer on the road And I wasted him, Yeah.”

I hope I never grow out of loving Lester Bangs.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:19 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good for him for smacking down Christgau, but he gets that out of the way early, and the rest of it is far from Bangs at his best. Greil Marcus is a much, much better writer than Bangs was, on the average; Bangs is the guy who would throw himself off a stage without checking first to see if there were enough people to catch him, and when there wasn't you just have to wince.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:19 PM on September 30, 2012


I wonder if you can petition Lester Bangs with prayer.
posted by not_on_display at 8:15 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just a quick note here. Peter Hook in an interview a few years back in Canada's National Newspaper talked about The Doors and how influential they were on Joy Division.
Beyond all the self indulgent shit and such The Doors first album is a remarkably moody, atmospheric piece of non summer of love.
Maybe it's the impressionistic budding artist 15 year old in me typing this out but I will always have a soft spot for that brilliant first record they made.
And, I can hear it all over Joy Division like Hook claimed. And one last thing; full props to Ray Manzarek for swiping from Monk on Break On Through.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:02 PM on September 30, 2012


Even an unstopped clock can be wrong 23 hours and 59 minutes a day.
posted by y2karl at 8:52 AM on October 1, 2012


I think there is certainly a good argument that everything about Morrison's style was influential.

I think there is certainly a good argument that Jim Morrison is the poster boy for dying young being the best career move ever made.
posted by y2karl at 9:03 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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