Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blue Moon

Alex Chilton | 1950 – 2010

It's been a tough month for Rock'n'Roll. Click below to hear a beautiful demo of "Blue Moon".

EDIT: I've had a couple of conversations in the past few days about why Alex Chilton's music has meant so much to me over the years...conversations about why any music sinks itself into one's psyche...sinks itself into your soul, and becomes a touchstone for memories...a reference point for the places and times in life that mean something. Well, for me it all started in a little Toyota truck.

I was in my late teens (I think maybe 17 or 18?). My brother and sister-in-law were going on vacation, and I was the house-sitter. To me, that was a big deal. I always loved the break from my normal routine, and I loved getting to listen to my brother's music collection. I also loved the fact that it gave me a truck with a tape-deck for a few days. My truck had an AM radio in it, so this was a luxury indeed. I got in the truck and started to drive (something I did a lot as a kid with no girlfriend and no real hobbies at the time). The tape-deck had Big Star's #1 Record / Radio City loaded up, and I was smitten from the first chug and note-bends of "Feel". I must have listened to that tape 5 or 10 times before they returned from vacation, and I taped a copy for myself...

Fast forward...a couple of years, and my own copies of the first two records on CD, and then Big Star's Third record, and then the Live record. And then my time working at a record store...and then Alex Chilton's solo records. Man, really? "Like Flies on Sherbert" cranked at 5 o'clock in the morning...blasting out of the front door on Highland Avenue...swigging beer, and talking about how beautifully messy the record was. How beautifully messy the guitar was. A Beautiful mess.

I saw Alex Chilton play twice. The first time was in a surreal Pigeon Forge Theater with the Box Tops...I'll never forget his swagger on stage, and the "light up" crosses on the walls when they played "I Met Her in Church". Mr. Chilton was in his own world that night...apart from the band. He was the lead-guy...falling down on stage, and half-mocking the crowd with every slangy note. It was so much fun. I got his autograph after the show...something I don't normally do.

Fast forward...late-2008. I flew to Milwaukee to spend time with a friend, and see Alex Chilton play a solo set. He wandered on stage with a guitar and suitcase...plugged in, played a set mixed with Big Star songs and mostly semi-obscure R&B covers. He covered Michael Jackson, and Chuck Berry. His playing was a sloppy, beautiful mess. Now, when I say sloppy I don't mean that as a bad thing. Every time I hear "Rock with You" I will think of my friend, that weekend in Milwaukee, and Alex Chilton on stage.

I guess my point in all of this...well, I dunno what my point is. I guess Alex Chilton means a lot to me because of where I was in my life when his records were played. Those records have become part of that soundtrack that we all have. The one that gets played in our memories and on our turntables. Every time I play my copy of "Loose Shoes..." I will remember finding it in a record shop in London, and carrying that thing with me for 2 weeks on vacation...trying not to bend or break it...and getting it home and dropping the needle. Yeah, I had heard it before, but it meant so much more now that I had a story behind it.

Thank You Alex Chilton. I love your records.

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