We used to have this really awesome radio station in Minnesota called Rev105. It was my post-college, pre-real-job savior while I worked as a gas station attendant.
They had this great little feature they called “Evolution of the Revolution.” It was just short 15 to 30 second snippets of songs and it was all if you like X then you should check out Y.
I distinctly remember bombing around in my 1979 Chrysler Newport, Sugar, on a bright sunny afternoon bouncing from bookstore to record store with Rev105 cranked high. They did an Evolution of the Revolution spot. If you like Matthew Sweet then you should check out Big Star.
Because I was 23 and lived at home and worked at a gas station and had more discretionary income than ever, I said, “I love Matthew Sweet I am going to check out Big Star!” And the very next CD I purchased that day was “#1 Record/Radio City.” After I slid the CD into my discman (which was connected to Sugar’s stereo via one of those tape dealies), I popped open the liner notes.
Holy shit, I thought. Alex Chilton is a real person.
Having the Matthew Sweet comparison along with The Replacements’ golden seal of approval was all I needed to make Big Star my new favorite band. Everyone always assumed I discovered Big Star through The ‘Mats, but now, it was Matthew Sweet.
Since that day the band and I have had a long storied relationship a lot of which I don’t feel like rehashing. Suffice it to say one of my most vile ExBFs was nicknamed after a Big Star song.
Alex Chilton died tonight at the age of 59. You can never predict how the death of a celebrity is going to hit you. If you had asked me yesterday about how I’d take the death of Alex Chilton, I’d have told you that I would be saddened but not shaken.
I would have been wrong. Chilton’s death smacked me upside the head. Tears sprang to my eyes the moment the words Alex Chilton R.I.P. flitted across my screen. Reading the Westernerds’ reactions on Facebook (right now there are 16 different mini-tributes to Chilton on my homepage) makes the tears roll down my cheeks, and makes me want to hug every single one of them.
Thank you, Alex Chilton.