Check this - Alex Chilton, who was an awesome musician and rocker from Memphis Tennessee, died yesterday at the age of 59. There are serious Chilton people, completists, and I can't compete with them, but I really loved his music and I'm going to type out some thoughts that are jumping around in my brain, upon his passing. In my life, I've played the first two Big Star albums the most, because when I was younger, the Replacements told me to "never travel far without a little big star" (I scribbled "never leave home without a little Ramones" on my travel CD case, too), and back in the late 90's, the only thing you could really easily find by Big Star was a CD of the first two albums in sequence - as a consequence, I'm still a little hazy on where #1 Record ends and Radio City begins - but they both are GREAT ALBUMS, PERIOD, so does it really matter? Nope!
I also like the albums Sister Lovers, and Flys In The Sherbert (ok, that last one is a solo album, but it's really cool, and I recommend it very strongly if you like Big Star and music that's kinda goofy and fucked up). And of course I've been singing along to the song "The Letter" before I can remember memories. Here are three ways in which Big Star/Alex Chilton has impacted my life:
1. I think "September Gurls" is one of the top 25 or so songs ever written, and certainly one of the most beautiful rock/pop tunes I've ever heard. I've put it on more mixtapes than I can count, and played along with it dozens of times on guitar in my room.
2. I learned how to play the song "I'm In Love With A Girl" (I'm sure I didn't get the chords exactly right, but I'm at least in the ballpark), and have played it at a bunch of shows. I'm no Tim Schweiger* but I try.
3. Here's a chain of events that I am convinced happened: a.) Paul Westerberg, a big Alex Chilton/Big Star and also Minnesota Twins fan, lobbies the Twins energetically in the offseason to sign free agent slugger Jim Thome. b.) The Twins sign Jim Thome, and Paul makes him a mix CD prominently featuring Chilton tunes. c.) Thome becomes an Alex Chilton fan, too. d.) Alex Chilton passes away the night of March 17th, 2010. e.) Jim Thome, in his honor, hits his first home run as a Twin the very next day, knocking a pitch from Pittsburgh's Ross Ohlendorf over the right-field fence down in Ft Myers. ABSOLUTELY AIRTIGHT LOGICAL CHAIN OF EVENTS, NO???
RIP Alex Chilton.
*Tim Schweiger is one of my favorite Wisconsin musicians of all time - he was in a great band called Yesterday's Kids back in the late 90's and early 00's, and he now plays solo or with a backing band called the Middle Men. He's covered several Big Star/Alex Chilton songs in his day, solo or with other bands. He doesn't tour much, but if you are hanging around Wisconsin long enough - and why wouldn't you? - you can probably catch one of his shows. You will be rocked! Here's a link to his jazzy page: http://www.myspace.com/timothyschweiger