Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton: The Water We Drank.

Chilton: Pop Poet, 1950-2010

Coming up in music in the 80's as I did, it was impossible not to be influenced, even if only tangentially, by Alex Chilton. Bands like REM and the Replacements wore their love for Chilton on their sleeves, and demanded their fans notice. Like many at the time, I had the Big Star LPs in my collection. Those records blew me away on multiple levels: The songs, which are among the most perfect pop ever crafted; the guitar playing/tones which brought clean/chimey/bell-like to new (ultra compressed) heights; and the engineering/production by Jim Dickinson (one of my all-time studio heroes. See this blog for my post-mortem on Dickinson), which was WAY ahead of its time.

Now, sadly, Chilton has joined his old studio mentor behind that big microphone in the sky. He died yesterday at only 59. The news is hitting me much harder than I expected it to. His passing feels like what Obi Wan would call a disturbence in The Force. Like losing the man behind the curtain. Like the passing of The Patron. It's not like you thought about Alex Chilton every day, but if you're a modern rocker like me, his presence was felt on a cellular level. Chilton was in the water we drank.

In more recent years, I've grown a new appreciation for Chilton's blue-eyed soul days with The Box Tops. I engineered an R&B LP years ago by a Louisiana artist named Miki Honeycutt who used the Box Tops' "Soul Deep" as her title track.

I wasn't the Chilton desciple and evangelist that some of my friends were, but I certainly understood their reverence. Like Gram Parsons, Chilton was one of those very potent underground well-springs that fed the music we call "Alternative" and "Americana" today.

Here's a Chilton nice piece from Entertainment

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