Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:26 pm

Good Time Charlie wrote:
Frankie Teardrop wrote:
Man, be quiet. Seriously.


I'm sorry but I'm not gonna be told to 'be quiet' by you for very little reason.


I usually love Frankie's posts, but that was unnecessary of him, I must say... We shouldn't be trying to shut others just because they don't agree with our views or enjoy/dislike something we don't/do. After all, this is a message board and not a dictatorship. As long as it's not simply bitching for no good reason but being a whiny boy (kinda like I see happening in other topics about certain matters) and it keeps on topic, there's no problem.

I also don't like a few things on the obituary. For instance, the "too fat" comment about Elvis in '72 (thanks Doc for the correction) strike me not as his honest view of Elvis - rather, it sounds like the old stereotype of fat Elvis just because it's in the 70's. The same one you guys usually mention when talking about an EIC release, for example. Now, I hope that wasn't his intention... But it surely sounds like it. Just my honest opinion on the matter. Not saying it was a bad reading, but different people may have different views on something - and TTWII, no need to tell others to be quiet.

Now you two hold hands and be friends!
PS.: I agree with Good Time Charlie on Guralnick.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:52 pm

Good Time Charlie wrote:Elvis showed contempt for his fans and the public? Comments like this are ridiculous.


No, they're not. Unfortunately, in many instances, it was true. It can hardly be argued that Elvis exhibited a major indifference towards his craft in the later years--on stage, in the studio, and elsewhere.

I am as big a fan as anyone, but it angers me still today to look back and see how much more he could have given. Yes, he gave a lot. But there will always be that "If only..." part of his career that keeps the naysayers chatting.

Thanks for posting the piece, Doc. I found it to be a fascinating read, and quite different from most authors.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:03 pm

Here's Lester Bangs obit for John Lennon from 1980. It's very similar in tone, though not quite as strong, as the piece on Elvis, and as you can see, there are quite a few things Lennon fans could take offense at. It was just one of the characteristics of his approach to mythic subject matter.

You always wonder how you will react to these things, but I can't say I was all that surprised when NBC broke into "The Tonight Show" to say that John Lennon was dead. I always thought that he would be the first of the Beatles to die, because he was always the one who lived the most on the existential edge, whether by diving knees-first into left-wing adventurism or by just shutting up for five years when he decided he really didn't have anything much to say; but I had always figured it would be by his own hand. That he was merely the latest celebrity to be gunned down by a probable psychotic only underscores the banality surrounding his death.

Look: I don't think I'm insensitive or a curmudgeon. In 1965 John Lennon was one of the most important people in the world. It's just that today I feel deeply alienated from rock 'n' roll and what it has meant or could mean, alienated from my fellow men and women and their dreams or aspirations.

I don't know what is more pathetic, the people of my generation who refuse to let their 1960s adolescence die a natural death, or the younger ones who will snatch and gobble any shred, any scrap of a dream that someone declared over ten years ago. Perhaps the younger ones are sadder, because at least my peers may have some nostalgic memory of the long-cold embers they're kneeling to blow upon, whereas the kids who have to make do with things like the _Beatlemania_ show are being sold a bill of goods.

I can't mourn John Lennon. I didn't know the guy. But I do know that when all is said and done, that's all he was--a guy. The refusal of his fans to ever let him just be that was finally almost as lethal as his "assassin" (and please, let's have no more talk of this being a "political" killing, and don't call him a "rock 'n' roll martyr"). Did you watch the TV specials on Tuesday night? Did you see all those people standing in the street in front of the Dakota apartment where Lennon lived singing "Hey Jude"? What do you think the _real_--cynical, sneeringly sarcastic, witheringly witty and iconoclastic--John Lennon would have said about that?

John Lennon at his best despised cheap sentiment and had to learn the hard way that once you've made your mark on history those who can't will be so grateful they'll turn it into a cage for you. Those who choose to falsify their memories--to pine for a neverland 1960s that never really happened _that_ way in the first place--insult the retroactive Eden they enshrine.

So in this time of gut-curdling sanctimonies about ultimate icons, I hope you will bear with my own pontifications long enough to let me say that the Beatles were certainly far more than a group of four talented musicians who might even have been the best of their generation. The Beatles were most of all a moment. But their generation was not the only generation in history, and to keep turning the gutten lantern of those dreams this way and that in hopes the flame will somehow flicker up again in the eighties is as futile a pursuit as trying to turn Lennon's lyrics into poetry. It is for that moment--not for John Lennon the man---that you are mourning, if you are mourning. Ultimately you are mourning for yourself.

Remember that other guy, the old friend of theirs, who once said, "Don't follow leaders"? Well, he was right. But the very people who took those words and made them into banners were violating the slogan they carried. And their still doing it today. The Beatles did lead but they led with a wink. They may have been more popular than Jesus, but I don't think they wanted to be the world's religion. That would have cheapened and rendered tawdry what was special and wonderful about them. John Lennon didn't want that, or he wouldn't have retired for the last half of the seventies. What happened Monday night was only the most extreme extension of all the forces that led him to do so in the first place.

In some of this last interviews before he died, he said, "What I realized during the five years away was that when I said the dream is over, I had made the physical break from the Beatles, but mentally there is still this big thing on my back about what people expected of me." And: "We were the hip ones of the sixties. But the world is not like the sixties. The whole world has changed." And: "Produce your own dream. It's quite possible to do anything...the unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions."

Good-bye, baby, and amen.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:24 pm

Good Time Charlie wrote: You must have a very shallow view of what Elvis ever achieved post 1958 if this piece of writing is so great for you.


You must have a very strange view of what great writing is, if you cannot look past a few points of personal disagreement, to see the fundamental tenet of the piece: that we may all disagree on particular things, but we all love Elvis. That view is stated eloquently and passionately. But frankly, I am surprised the piece has gotten so much good response here, as most Elvis fans seem to be pretty square.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:25 pm

billyblues wrote:
Good Time Charlie wrote:
Frankie Teardrop wrote:
Man, be quiet. Seriously.


I'm sorry but I'm not gonna be told to 'be quiet' by you for very little reason.


I usually love Frankie's posts, but that was unnecessary of him, I must say...


Charlie's comment was unnecessary as well. And laughable.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:26 pm

KingOfTheJungle wrote:Here's Lester Bangs obit for John Lennon from 1980. It's very similar in tone, though not quite as strong, as the piece on Elvis, and as you can see, there are quite a few things Lennon fans could take offense at. It was just one of the characteristics of his approach to mythic subject matter.

You always wonder how you will react to these things, but I can't say I was all that surprised when NBC broke into "The Tonight Show" to say that John Lennon was dead. I always thought that he would be the first of the Beatles to die, because he was always the one who lived the most on the existential edge, whether by diving knees-first into left-wing adventurism or by just shutting up for five years when he decided he really didn't have anything much to say; but I had always figured it would be by his own hand. That he was merely the latest celebrity to be gunned down by a probable psychotic only underscores the banality surrounding his death.

Look: I don't think I'm insensitive or a curmudgeon. In 1965 John Lennon was one of the most important people in the world. It's just that today I feel deeply alienated from rock 'n' roll and what it has meant or could mean, alienated from my fellow men and women and their dreams or aspirations.

I don't know what is more pathetic, the people of my generation who refuse to let their 1960s adolescence die a natural death, or the younger ones who will snatch and gobble any shred, any scrap of a dream that someone declared over ten years ago. Perhaps the younger ones are sadder, because at least my peers may have some nostalgic memory of the long-cold embers they're kneeling to blow upon, whereas the kids who have to make do with things like the _Beatlemania_ show are being sold a bill of goods.

I can't mourn John Lennon. I didn't know the guy. But I do know that when all is said and done, that's all he was--a guy. The refusal of his fans to ever let him just be that was finally almost as lethal as his "assassin" (and please, let's have no more talk of this being a "political" killing, and don't call him a "rock 'n' roll martyr"). Did you watch the TV specials on Tuesday night? Did you see all those people standing in the street in front of the Dakota apartment where Lennon lived singing "Hey Jude"? What do you think the _real_--cynical, sneeringly sarcastic, witheringly witty and iconoclastic--John Lennon would have said about that?

John Lennon at his best despised cheap sentiment and had to learn the hard way that once you've made your mark on history those who can't will be so grateful they'll turn it into a cage for you. Those who choose to falsify their memories--to pine for a neverland 1960s that never really happened _that_ way in the first place--insult the retroactive Eden they enshrine.

So in this time of gut-curdling sanctimonies about ultimate icons, I hope you will bear with my own pontifications long enough to let me say that the Beatles were certainly far more than a group of four talented musicians who might even have been the best of their generation. The Beatles were most of all a moment. But their generation was not the only generation in history, and to keep turning the gutten lantern of those dreams this way and that in hopes the flame will somehow flicker up again in the eighties is as futile a pursuit as trying to turn Lennon's lyrics into poetry. It is for that moment--not for John Lennon the man---that you are mourning, if you are mourning. Ultimately you are mourning for yourself.

Remember that other guy, the old friend of theirs, who once said, "Don't follow leaders"? Well, he was right. But the very people who took those words and made them into banners were violating the slogan they carried. And their still doing it today. The Beatles did lead but they led with a wink. They may have been more popular than Jesus, but I don't think they wanted to be the world's religion. That would have cheapened and rendered tawdry what was special and wonderful about them. John Lennon didn't want that, or he wouldn't have retired for the last half of the seventies. What happened Monday night was only the most extreme extension of all the forces that led him to do so in the first place.

In some of this last interviews before he died, he said, "What I realized during the five years away was that when I said the dream is over, I had made the physical break from the Beatles, but mentally there is still this big thing on my back about what people expected of me." And: "We were the hip ones of the sixties. But the world is not like the sixties. The whole world has changed." And: "Produce your own dream. It's quite possible to do anything...the unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions."

Good-bye, baby, and amen.



Another great one.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:51 pm

Doc, thanks for taking the time to post this....I found the article an interesting read.

However, I am personally disappointed about the mis-giving's of Lester Bangs
stretching the truth in the way he did in the article when describing Elvis' appearance
for 71'.....for me that was kinda a turn off.

If it was 76' or 77' or maybe even 75' that he was referring to, I would let it slide.

It is just that....Bangs was doing an Goldman and not really telling the truth of the matter.
This to me, like I say was a disappointment and really for me didn't make up for his way
of trying to say positive things' about Elvis.

Elvis, as we all know was still very cool looking in 1971'...jumpsuit and all and he was far
from being over weight or even out of shape for that matter....plus his shows....were still
dynamite. As can be seen here in November of 71'
phpBB [video]



So, I'm not sure why Bangs bother to feel the need to take things out of context
back in August of 77'....when 71' should have been a good memory of Elvis for him....

Can't imagine what he would have said about Elvis, if he would have went to a 76' or 77' concert...

Anyway, it is what it is...thanks again for posting.

PEP 8)

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:07 pm

Elvis was too fat in 1971???????? Lester needed glasses.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:30 pm

PEP,
I will say in Bangs defense, that I don't think he was intending to slander Elvis the way Goldman clearly was by saying he was "too fat" in 71. This just shows how the effect of time can color memories. Not everyone has the grasp of Elvis's physical and emotional fluctuations that we hardcore fans do. I think we've established that he was actually referring to Elvis 1972 Detroit show rather than 71, and I can see how if the last mental image of Elvis one retained was the 68 Special, or the idealized 1957-era "Loving You" Elvis, that they could think that 1972 era Elvis was "too fat". He doesn't say "bloated" or "pudgy" or "blimp like", just "too fat", which certainly conveys a slighter degree. So, as with many things concerning Elvis, how good he looked at any given time in the 70's is really a matter of relativity, depending on what you are comparing it to. Elvis's huge sideburns made him look heavier than he was in the early 70's, so that probably had something to do with it as well.

While it's always regrettable to see the line of Elvis's deteriorating physical health blurred, it's a rather simple mistake for one to make. I consider myself a rather big fan of James Brown, and I saw him twice, but I couldn't tell you exactly what year the first gig was to save my life. If i took a guess, I would probably be off by a year or two. I need to see if I can find any of the other time Bangs talked about Elvis to post that as well. I think it would help alot of people understand where he is coming from. He had an almost worshipful reverence for the pre-Army Elvis that I think compounds his disappointment that Elvis wasn't ever quite the same way again. It's as if the succession of "new" Elvis's (EIB-era, movie era, comeback, Vegas) were constant reminders of the inability to recapture the innocent idealism of youth.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:38 pm

Frankie Teardrop wrote:
Good Time Charlie wrote: You must have a very shallow view of what Elvis ever achieved post 1958 if this piece of writing is so great for you.


You must have a very strange view of what great writing is, if you cannot look past a few points of personal disagreement, to see the fundamental tenet of the piece: that we may all disagree on particular things, but we all love Elvis. That view is stated eloquently and passionately. But frankly, I am surprised the piece has gotten so much good response here, as most Elvis fans seem to be pretty square.


For me, his complete dismissal of Elvis' post 50s work and remarking of Elvis being overweight in late 1971/early 1972 is more than just a few points of personal disagreement.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:45 pm

KingOfTheJungle wrote:PEP,
I will say in Bangs defense, that I don't think he was intending to slander Elvis the way Goldman clearly was by saying he was "too fat" in 71.
I can appreciate what your saying....however, still just the same.
I guess in my opinion,it wasn't needed to be said or written if you know what I mean...

This just shows how the effect of time can color memories.
True....
Not everyone has the grasp of Elvis's physical and emotional fluctuations that we hardcore fans do. I think we've established that he was actually referring to Elvis 1972 Detroit show rather than 71, and I can see how if the last mental image of Elvis one retained was the 68 Special, or the idealized 1957-era "Loving You" Elvis, that they could think that 1972 era Elvis was "too fat". He doesn't say "bloated" or "pudgy" or "blimp like", just "too fat", which certainly conveys a slighter degree. So, as with many things concerning Elvis, how good he looked at any given time in the 70's is really a matter of relativity, depending on what you are comparing it to. Elvis's huge sideburns made him look heavier than he was in the early 70's, so that probably had something to do with it as well.
Maybe so.....but fat??? :lol: Anyway, fair enough, I know what your saying. :wink:
While it's always regrettable to see the line of Elvis's deteriorating physical health blurred, it's a rather simple mistake for one to make. I consider myself a rather big fan of James Brown, and I saw him twice, but I couldn't tell you exactly what year the first gig was to save my life. If i took a guess, I would probably be off by a year or two. I need to see if I can find any of the other time Bangs talked about Elvis to post that as well. I think it would help alot of people understand where he is coming from. He had an almost worshipful reverence for the pre-Army Elvis that I think compounds his disappointment that Elvis wasn't ever quite the same way again. It's as if the succession of "new" Elvis's (EIB-era, movie era, comeback, Vegas) were constant reminders of the inability to recapture the innocent idealism of youth.
But fat??? :lol: I got to say it again.... :lol:

Thanks for taking the time to explain.... :D

PEP 8)

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:01 pm

Frankie Teardrop wrote:
billyblues wrote:
Good Time Charlie wrote:
Frankie Teardrop wrote:
Man, be quiet. Seriously.


I'm sorry but I'm not gonna be told to 'be quiet' by you for very little reason.


I usually love Frankie's posts, but that was unnecessary of him, I must say...


Charlie's comment was unnecessary as well. And laughable.


Not rude though.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:20 pm

So many great replies, this is a fun, fun read!

epf wrote:One can never be too sure on this MB! :) But thanks once again Doc!

keninlincs wrote:Thanks John,just my kind of journalistic genius

Thank you, my friends.

---

Good Time Charlie wrote:I was saying it is a shame because it is such an overtly negative piece on Presley ...

KHoots wrote:
Good Time Charlie wrote:Elvis showed contempt for his fans and the public? Comments like this are ridiculous.


No, they're not. Unfortunately, in many instances, it was true. It can hardly be argued that Elvis exhibited a major indifference towards his craft in the later years--on stage, in the studio, and elsewhere.

I am as big a fan as anyone, but it angers me still today to look back and see how much more he could have given. Yes, he gave a lot. But there will always be that "If only..." part of his career that keeps the naysayers chatting.

Thanks for posting the piece, Doc. I found it to be a fascinating read, and quite different from most authors.

Right on, KHoots. Needless to say, you are better able to get to the heart of the piece than Good Time Charlie.

---

KingOfTheJungle wrote:Here's Lester Bangs obit for John Lennon from 1980. It's very similar in tone, though not quite as strong, as the piece on Elvis, and as you can see, there are quite a few things Lennon fans could take offense at. It was just one of the characteristics of his approach to mythic subject matter.

That was terrific as well, thanks. This might help those unfamiliar with Bang's personal style.

---

PEP wrote:However, I am personally disappointed about the misgivings of Lester Bangs stretching the truth the way he did in the article when describing Elvis' appearance for 71.....for me that was kind of a turn off.

As noted earlier in the topic, Bangs was likely being rhetorical as much as literal. "Too fat" may be seen as shorthand for the whole overblown style Elvis presented: the huge sideburns, the outlandish jumpsuit with cape (!) and huge belt. And remember, this was published in the Village Voice, a long-established, New York-based newspaper, not "Elvis World" magazine. Bangs was not a "jumpsuit junkie." In any case, it's such a small part of the entire essay.

I appreciate what KingOfTheJungle says here:

KingOfTheJungle wrote:... I can see how if the last mental image of Elvis one retained was the 68 Special, or the idealized 1957-era "Loving You" Elvis, that they could think that 1972 era Elvis was "too fat". He doesn't say "bloated" or "pudgy" or "blimp like", just "too fat", which certainly conveys a slighter degree. So, as with many things concerning Elvis, how good he looked at any given time in the 70's is really a matter of relativity, depending on what you are comparing it to. Elvis's huge sideburns made him look heavier than he was in the early 70's, so that probably had something to do with it as well.


---

Good Time Charlie wrote:For me, his complete dismissal of Elvis' post 50s work ...

There is nothing like this in Lester's article.

When he speaks of the way Presley mesmerized the Detroit audience "... after a decade and a half of crappy records, of making a point of not trying," there is a lot of truth. Do we need to once again pile up the scores of soundtrack recordings, or review the dozens of worthless films, Elvis made after 1960?

What is clear is that Bangs analyzes Presley on a far deeper level than most other artists because Elvis was that significant, someone so profound and influential that we will never again see -- or agree upon -- anyone like him. In 33 years since that article, Bangs has been proven correct.

And Lester loved him, just as we all did.

---

The Pirate wrote:It's been here for the last five years.

http://josephwaldman.livejournal.com/43782.html

Yes, but this transcription has numerous errors, and does not use the original title.

The one I posted does, and avoids those errors, as it was taken from my copy of the original, 1977 Village Voice issue. I hope that clears up any confusion for you.

Did you enjoy reading it, The Pirate?

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:00 am

I think it's important to note that this was an obituary; an off-the-cuff piece written in reaction to Elvis' death. It can't be compared to writing a book with time to research details and besides, that wasn't the point. It was an emotional response to Elvis' death and it mirrored what many of us felt at that moment in time in the context of what we knew about Elvis' career and life, which was confusing to say the least. Flashes of brilliance amongst acres of dross - it didn't make sense. Of course now we know why, but back then we didn't (although some clues were emerging) and Bang's article reflects that.

You only have to compare Bang's piece with the other obituaries written about Elvis in August 1977 (published in the excellent book 'When Elvis Died') to see how good his was and how well it stands up despite some minor factual errors. He was a wonderful, funny, irreverent writer and one of a kind.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:09 am

Bella wrote:I think it's important to note that this was an obituary; an off-the-cuff piece written in reaction to Elvis' death. It can't be compared to writing a book with time to research details and besides, that wasn't the point. It was an emotional response to Elvis' death and it mirrored what many of us felt at that moment in time in the context of what we knew about Elvis' career and life, which was confusing to say the least. Flashes of brilliance amongst acres of dross - it didn't make sense. Of course now we know why, but back then we didn't (although some clues were emerging) and Bang's article reflects that.

You only have to compare Bang's piece with the other obituaries written about Elvis in August 1977 (published in the excellent book 'When Elvis Died') to see how good his was and how well it stands up despite some minor factual errors. He was a wonderful, funny, irreverent writer and one of a kind.

Beautiful post, and very, very good observations about the context of the article.

It was probably written in the immediate aftermath of Elvis' death. it was a weird time, as those old enough to remember will confirm.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:16 am

Bella wrote:I think it's important to note that this was an obituary; an off-the-cuff piece written in reaction to Elvis' death. It can't be compared to writing a book with time to research details and besides, that wasn't the point. It was an emotional response to Elvis' death and it mirrored what many of us felt at that moment in time in the context of what we knew about Elvis' career and life, which was confusing to say the least. Flashes of brilliance amongst acres of dross - it didn't make sense. Of course now we know why, but back then we didn't (although some clues were emerging) and Bang's article reflects that.

You only have to compare Bang's piece with the other obituaries written about Elvis in August 1977 (published in the excellent book 'When Elvis Died') to see how good his was and how well it stands up despite some minor factual errors. He was a wonderful, funny, irreverent writer and one of a kind.


I'll give you that yes. In that short space of time, and with nowhere near the same amount of easily accesible information we have now regarding Elivs' life and career - I take your point. I still can't understand why he mentioned we've always waited for him to spark back into life since the 50's but it never happened. I'll re-iterate my point again, did he not see the '68 Special?! It contains some of the best damn rock n roll I've ever seen in my life.

It's just my gripe that people see this as the best article written on Presley, best obituary etc. Maybe I'm the old-fashioned type that when in Death, we should remember the good times, remember what he gave us and realize that Elvis never actually owed us anything but gave a lot more joy to millions of people than most men do. He was a good man at his heart. But hey, I guess I'm in the minority here so I'm gonna politely shut up now, as somebody has already wished me to do.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:27 am

Good Time Charlie wrote: gave a lot more joy to millions of people than most men do.


And that is exactly what Bangs nails, in more passionate, eloquent and authoritative a fashion than I have read from anybody else.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:03 am

Good Time Charlie wrote:
Bella wrote:I think it's important to note that this was an obituary; an off-the-cuff piece written in reaction to Elvis' death. It can't be compared to writing a book with time to research details and besides, that wasn't the point. It was an emotional response to Elvis' death and it mirrored what many of us felt at that moment in time in the context of what we knew about Elvis' career and life, which was confusing to say the least. Flashes of brilliance amongst acres of dross - it didn't make sense. Of course now we know why, but back then we didn't (although some clues were emerging) and Bang's article reflects that.

You only have to compare Bang's piece with the other obituaries written about Elvis in August 1977 (published in the excellent book 'When Elvis Died') to see how good his was and how well it stands up despite some minor factual errors. He was a wonderful, funny, irreverent writer and one of a kind.


I'll give you that yes. In that short space of time, and with nowhere near the same amount of easily accesible information we have now regarding Elivs' life and career - I take your point. I still can't understand why he mentioned we've always waited for him to spark back into life since the 50's but it never happened. I'll re-iterate my point again, did he not see the '68 Special?! It contains some of the best damn rock n roll I've ever seen in my life.

It's just my gripe that people see this as the best article written on Presley, best obituary etc. Maybe I'm the old-fashioned type that when in Death, we should remember the good times, remember what he gave us and realize that Elvis never actually owed us anything but gave a lot more joy to millions of people than most men do. He was a good man at his heart. But hey, I guess I'm in the minority here so I'm gonna politely shut up now, as somebody has already wished me to do.


I don't think Bangs was trying to say Elvis never recorded or did anything worthwhile after his army service, but to a certain extent the magic was gone. Yes the 68 Special produced arguably THE greatest Rock N' Roll ever recorded, but there is quite a bit the 50's had that the 68 era lacked. The newness, the frenzied tours with teenage girls screaming louder than the sounds of the amplifiers, the week after week chart -dominating records featuring new classic after new classic, the "Berle" controversy and filming from the waist up on Sullivan. The sense of danger that appealed to one's youthful sense of rebellion, and the mundane conformity of the Eisenhower years against which it rebelled.

By 68 the Times had changed, the people had changed largely due to Elvis's influence. It was impossible for 1956 to happen again, because it had already happened. The sense of communal revolution is what Bangs responded to, and yearned to see again even though he acknowledges it wasn't possible. That's why I find this piece so intriguing, unlike so much of the babble that was written in the wake of Elvis's death, it gives you a sense of why he was so great in the first place, and not any facts or sales figures, but an emotional sense of why it was he, and not Chuck Berry or Little Richard, that caused the frenzy surrounding Rock N' Roll.

Is it overly harsh and unfair at times? absolutely. But it gets at an aspect at the core of Elvis that keeps us coming back despite all of the flack you can throw at him. The sheer otherness of the man. That intangible quality that, despite the best efforts of rock critics and historians, can neither be successfully defined or dismissed. The quality that makes him ELVIS and not Buddy Holly or Chuck Berry, or Ricky Nelson or even the Beatles. It's what makes all of us obsessive about the man, and it is conveyed in this article, which puts it in a class with too few peers.
Last edited by KingOfTheJungle on Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:08 am

KingOfTheJungle wrote:I don't think Bangs was trying to say Elvis never recorded or did anything worthwhile after his army service, but to a certain extent the magic was gone. Yes the 68 Special produced arguably THE greatest Rock N' Roll ever recorded, but there is quite a bit the 50's had that the 68 era lacked. The newness, the frenzied tours with teenage girls screaming louder than the sounds of the amplifiers, the week after week chart -dominating records featuring new classic after new classic, the "Berle" controversy and filming from the waist up on Sullivan. The sense of danger that appealed to one's youthful sense of rebellion, and the mundane conformity of the Eisenhower years against which it rebelled.

By 68 the Times had changed, the people had changed largely due to Elvis's influence. It was impossible for 1956 to happen again, because it had already happened. The sense of communal revolution is what Bangs responded to, and yearned to see again even though he acknowledges it wasn't possible. That's why I find this piece so intriguing, unlike so much of the babble that was written in the wake of Elvis's death, it gives you a sense of why he was so great in the first place, and not any facts or sales figures, but an emotional sense of why it was he, and not Chuck Berry or Little Richard, that caused the frenzy surrounding Rock N' Roll.

Is it overly harsh and unfair at times? absolutely. But it gets at an aspect at the core of Elvis that keeps us coming back despite all of the flack you can throw at him. The sheer otherness of the man. That intangible quality that, despite the best efforts of rock critics and historians, can neither be successfully defined or dismissed. The quality that makes him ELVIS and not Buddy Holly or Chuck Berry, or Ricky Nelson or even the Beatles. It's what makes all of us obsessive about the man, and it is conveyed in this article, which puts it in a class with too few peers.

There are a number of outstanding replies on this topic, and this is another example.

Thank you.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:13 am

Thanks, Doc.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:17 am

You know, a good friend of mine had a family dog named Lester. After the doggie passed away, my buddy told me he was named in tribute to the late Lester Bangs. I knew then I had to read more of the man's work.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:32 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:You know, a good friend of mine had a family dog named Lester. After the doggie passed away, my buddy told me he was named in tribute to the late Lester Bangs. I knew then I had to read more of the man's work.


Well, I have a dog named Cilla -after you know who. I would advise staying away from her writings in any form or fashion. :lol:

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:08 am

KingOfTheJungle wrote:Thanks, Doc.


Your post reminded me of Guralnick's work for some reason. Good one.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:32 am

billyblues wrote:
KingOfTheJungle wrote:Thanks, Doc.


Your post reminded me of Guralnick's work for some reason. Good one.


Wow. Thanks, man.

Re: Lester Bangs - "How Long Will We Care?" August 1977

Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:26 am

"I see him as being more like the Pentagon, a giant armored institution nobody knows anything about except that its power is legendary."

What an impactful, moving statement about Elvis...
The article was a pleasure to read... thank you, Doc.