“Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round
They sing “I’m in love. What’s that song? I’m in love with that song.”
— The Replacements’ ‘Alex Chilton’
““But I’ll fall if I don’t fight/ And at my side is God/ And there ain’t no one going to turn me around/ there ain’t no one going to turn me round/Just hold on”
— Big Star’s ‘The Ballad of el Goodo’.
I swear to God, poor Adam Duritz from Counting Crows is cursed. First Mark Linkous and now Alex Chilton.
I’d like to say that I’ve known Big Star for a big while, but no, I discovered them just last year, when I saw Counting Crows live. They started with a cover of ‘The Ballad of El Goodo’ and I knew I recognised the song. A quick search afterwards made me realise I had it, in Evan Dando’s great version from Empire Records.
Then I went digging further, acquiring Big Star’s “Number 1” and falling in love with it. Obviously ‘Ballad’ was my first track to play and then I worked my way around it. All those sounds that most of my fave artists, like Wilco, Ryan Adams, Counting Crows, R.E.M., well, I could see why they say they were influenced by Big Star.
Alex Chilton has been name dropped by such bonafide geniuses like Teenage Fanclub, The Replacements and Counting Crows. I’m sad to know that I’ll never see him live. He might not be remembered in the big name magazines, we are just in a wee little online zine and I might not have been a fan for a long enough time to write a proper goodbye or eulogy, but I do feel a sadness and I thank for the good music from Big Star that I’ve heard (and the one I still have to hear, need the other albums).
There is a new Big Star in Heaven and it is Alex Chilton. Godspeed.
Listen to Longwave’s cover version of ‘Holocaust’.
Listen to Counting Crows’ amazing cover of ‘The Ballad of El Goodo’.
Listen to The Replacements’ love letter to Mr. Chilton.
A double album of his in Spotify:
Do yourself a favour and check Big Star’s first two albums in Spotify.