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Home » Academics » Departments » English » CW Program » Lester Bangs Archive » Reference Desk » Song Lyrics » Life is Not Worth Living

Life is Not Worth Living

Life is Not Worth Living (But Suicide Is a Waste of Time)

Lester Bangs and The Delinquents

I've heard that life's an awesome thing.
Should I just stand and gape?
I wonder if that road goes up
that leads here from the ape.
I guess my main conclusion
is that it's not worth a dime,
'cause life is not worth living
but suicide's a waste of time.[1]
You call yourself a nihilist[2]
just 'cause you read Céline.[3]
Put cigarettes out on your wrists,
you still won't be James Dean.[4]
You wish you were more sleek,
aspire to be a slime,
'cause your life is not worth living
but your suicide's a waste of time.
Go kill yourself, you're lookin' good;
won't need a helpin' hand.
Your face has not yet turn to wood.
Your death won't be called "bland."
You're sure to make the papers,
yeah, a dollar Sunday Times,[5] 
'cause your life is not worth living,
but your suicide's a waste of time.


Jook Savages On the Brazos, LP, CD
Track §2
LP: Live Wire Records, LW-3 (1981); CD: Moll Tonträger [GER], Moll 6 (1995); CD: re-issue: Live Wire Records, LW-20 (2009)

Steal My Mind, LP, MP3 Disc (John Wesley Coleman III)
Track B§5 (§11)
Certified PR Records, 2009 

Bangs, Lester. "Letter to JoAnne Uhelszki." in Throat Culture 02 (Collector's Edition, 1990): 48, 70-71.

Last Updated: 08/13/2017


Lester wrote the lyrics especially for the new Delinquents album, with an understanding that the genre lay squarely in Country and Western; he confided to JoAnne Uhelszki, "I'm writing lots more country and western songs now, it's lots more fun to write, sing and play, than rock 'n' roll, but I want to mix it up with the [The Velvet Underground] and I think I found a way to do just that" (Source: "Letter to JoAnne Uhelszki." in Throat Culture 02, 1990: 48).

[1] On the matter of suicide, Bangs did jokingly tell his cohorts in The Delinquents that he would go back to New York and kill himself so that they could become famously rich, but, joking aside, he was not as tolerant of the idea of suicide when it came to his own friends. On one occasion, his closest friend and confidante, Kathy Miller, casually remarked on the phone that she felt like killing herself; Lester showed up at her apartment within ten minutes and kicked down her door to rescue her.

[2] "call yourself a nihilist": Nihilism is a doctrine that all traditional values and belief systems are without merit, and that existence is senseless.

[3] Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894–1961): Pessimistic and sometimes darkly comedic French novelist considered one of the 20th century's most influential writers. Commenting on the dark sadomasochistic lives of Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious, Bangs wrote, "I'm just completely fed up with cheap stupid nihilism, especially when it starts acting trendy. I know society is sick and life is getting more complicated by the second, but if all you've got to say is get f**ked life sucks you stink who cares I'm bored whip me beat me kick me there's nothing else to do—then I think you and everybody would be a whole lot better off if you kept your mouth shut in the first place,..." (Source: "Bye Bye Sydney." Throat Culture 02: p. 19)

[4] James Dean (1931—1955): American heartthrob Hollywood actor who perished at a young age in a car crash; he is well remembered for his roles in East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956), but his signature role was as Jim Stark in the 1955 film, Rebel Without a Cause.

[5] The Sunday Times: probably a non-specific reference to the largest and most read weekly edition of a "Times" style newspaper.

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