18 March 2010

I've Been Crying All the Time: RIP Alex Chilton

Growing up in the South in the '70s Alex Chilton & Big Star were RELEVANT! I can't explain. You had to be there. That first album didn't sell much, but I had a copy and I absolutely wore out the grooves on the first side. There was nothing—NOTHING—else like it. Did it change my life? Not saying. Was it a thing of beauty by someone from my own generation? Absolutely.

Thanks, Alex. And goodbye.

"Hanging out.
Down the street.
The same old thing
We did last week.
Not a thing to do
But talk to you.

Steal your car
And bring it down.
Pick me up.
We'll drive around.
Wish we had a joint so bad.

Bust a streetlight.
Out past midnight.


BDR said...

Yup. This one hits home.

Jim H. said...

There was something about living in the American South in the '70s that Chilton's Big Star managed to capture in spare, elegant poetry: angst, disaffection, loneliness, despair, love glorious love, friendship, hope. Big Star was relevant—at least for me. It might not be so much so today; you had to be there.

Then there was that clean, shimmering guitar and emphasis on pop songwriting craft that had gotten lost in all the glitz and prog-rock messsiness. It spoke to those of us who could find it; #1 Record was an obscure gem, and that made us want it more. Radio City even more so.

Chilton's death washes me over as a warm breath of nostalgia for a certain time and a certain place—not necessarily a time or a place I'd want to go back to, but nevertheless a time and a place that I had to pass through to become who I am today. I would not want to be that Big Star-loving kid again, but I do have a certain fondness for who he was and the struggles he faced and, eventually, conquered. And every time I listen to those first two Big Star records, in particular, I think of that kid.

And yet it's not all about the nostalgia, some of those songs endure. There's never been a time in my life—since '73, I think—that I haven't I had one or more Big Star records in my collection. And there's never been a time that I've shined one of their songs on when it's cycled through my iPod.

Rock and roll will never die, but Alex Chilton just did. RIP, man.

Jim H.

Frances Madeson said...

Oh, gentlemen,
Thank you for the spontaneous demonstration of passionate agape. It's rare and blindingly beautiful to see expressed in real time. What a miracle to be alive now.