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Thursday, March 18, 2010

R.I.P. Alex Chilton

Really bummed about Big Star/Box Tops front man Alex Chilton's passing yesterday. I discovered the songwriter through Elliot Smith's cover of "Thirteen," shortly after moving to Boston in 2000. The combination of Chilton's sweetly innocent lyrics and Smith's fractured voice resonated deeply with the homesick and perpetually lovelorn guy I was in my early twenties. Ten years later it still does. If there is such a thing as a perfect song, "Thirteen" might be it. Regardless of who is singing it — Jeff Tweedy has a nice version too — that tune will forever be on my "desert island" list.

In memory of Alex Chilton, here are two videos I hope you'll enjoy. The first is Big Star performing another personal favorite, "September Gurls." Local guitar god Bill Mullins does a great of version of that song, BTW. The second is is "Thirteen," sung by the man who lead me to Big Star, the late, great Elliot Smith.

Thanks, Alex.



Great song and music, thanks for the sharing.

Charlie Messing

Thanks for helping spread the (sad) word about Alex Chilton. I knew him long ago. Wonderful guy, and a real musical genius. Taped his first NYC show in May of 1977 at CBGBs. Rock on, Alex.

Nelson Caldwell

Apropos of routes leading to Alex Chilton: the frontman from the band who led me and many of my generation to Chilton and Big Star wrote a very heartfelt Op-Ed in the March 20, 2010 edition of the New York Times -

And (while I'm at it) this Replacements song, for me, has always captured Chilton's spirit - a mixture of youthful, ebullient, and plangent that goes straight for the gut:

Nelson Caldwell

Oh . . . and while that video for "Alex Chilton" hardly seems ebullient, I believe that was just the band's reaction to being asked by their label to lip-synch to their own songs.

The song wasn't meant to be "watched," as is true of any good rock 'n' roll. Close your eyes/listen/freak/dance!

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