Thursday, March 18, 2010

RIP Alex Chilton

You probably heard that Alex Chilton died yesterday.

I learned about Alex Chilton backward, through other bands who loved Big Star, especially the Posies. Once I started paying attention, I realized how many of Alex's songs I already knew, some through covers. "Thirteen" is probably one of the prettiest songs ever recorded, and I loved it when Elliott Smith covered it because it sounds like something he could have written himself.

I won't pretend to be the biggest Big Star superfan, or anything, but they're important. The Posies did several Big Star covers when they'd play live, and as you probably know, Ken and Jon played with the band when they'd reunite. Because I wasn't alive yet when the Box Tops were around, and I was so little when Big Star was recording albums, the Posies are really mixed into my understanding of Big Star as a band.

When a musician I love dies, I always feel selfish for mostly mourning for the songs I'll never get to hear. But you might know what that's like. I probably felt that most keenly for Elliott and for Kurt Cobain, but Alex Chilton ranks pretty high up there, too. Maybe because I'm getting older it seems like this happens more and more often now and that I should start getting used to it. But it still feels like there's something missing in the world when an artist dies.

Like a lot of people, I went home and listened to Big Star. And Cheap Trick. And R.E.M. And the Posies. And a bunch of other bands that were influenced by Alex Chilton and his bands. It made me feel better somehow, which is something. And I love that Chilton was memorialized for Congress.

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