madame george

Begin here if you have the time to see it through.  You will not be disappointed.  Lester Bangs was a journalist third, a writer second, and an artist first.  His work is what finally convinced me that criticism is in fact a viable art form, despite its tertiary existence on the backs of its subjects.  I’ve got little patience for the Pitchforks of the world, the great taste-makers who glory in the tear-down, making money on the sneering dismissals of people’s dreams.  We love to rubber-neck, and someone exposing themselves and their bedroom creations to ridicule is great sport.  But I wouldn’t attend a public execution, and I don’t want to read that shit.

What I care to read, what Lester Bangs ultimately wrote, are love songs.  His review of Astral Weeks is an ode to Van Morrison, and more than that, it is a mustering of all the art he had at his disposal, through the manic slurring mix of uppers and downers, in a bedroom act of bravery all his own, to say thank you.  He was grateful.  Well me too, Lester.  And I agree, Astral Weeks is a beauty wrought in a fire he never again tried to touch. Not even close.  If you don’t have time for the review, forgive me, but I’m skipping to the end:

“On the other hand, it might also be pointed out that desolation, hurt, and anguish are hardly the only things in life, or in Astral Weeks. They’re just the things, perhaps, that we can most easily grasp and explicate, which I suppose shows about what level our souls have evolved to. I said I wouldn’t reduce the other songs on this album by trying to explain them, and I won’t. But that doesn’t mean that, all thing considered, a juxtaposition of poets might not be in order.

If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dreams
Where the mobile steel rims crack
And the ditch and the backroads stop
Could you find me
Would you kiss my eyes
And lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again
          Van Morrison


My heart of silk
is filled with lights,
with lost bells,
with lilies and bees.
I will go very far,
farther than those hills,
farther than the seas,
close to the stars,
to beg Christ the Lord
to give back the soul I had
of old, when I was a child,
ripened with legends,
with a feathered cap
and a wooden sword.
          Federico Garcia Lorca”

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