“James Taylor, Marked For Death.” The title of a 1971 essay by the late rock critic Lester Bangs was a watershed moment in American music criticism. Denouncing the smarmy folk rocker for, among other things, nurturing his own cult of personality, some critics contend that Bangs’ attack on Taylor was one of the first instances of punk music journalism.
Given how important outspoken rock writing would become over the next decades, especially to US ‘zine culture, and alternative weekly newspapers, Bangs’ irreverence towards the mainstream helped set the literary tone for several generations of journalists.
Milestones in criticism was not what the persons who affixed this demo advert to this gig poster had in mind. Anti-capitalist activists, it is not unreasonable to assume that James Taylor was a better vehicle to advertise their demo than, for example, a municipal stop sign. Considering that this flyer was pasted to a wall in southeast Berlin, one might very well conclude that the propagandists choice of placement came from two good places. The first, of course being political, the other, the thrill of revolutionary multitasking, taking on the aging seventies icon with something a little more significant than attending a ‘soft’ rock concert.
Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Crakow