Midvale School for the Gifted Alumni Association

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Musical Chairs: New Orleans Edition

Musical Chairs

The New Orleans edition. We decided as a group to each choose a musician or group of musicians associated with New Orleans, to pay respects to the catastrophe that was Hurricane Katrina, and to honor the legacy of one of this country's great cities.

The players will be writing about the following artists:
Not Your Typical Southern Belle: Fats Domino
Michele: NOLA heavy metal
Tesco: Harry Connick Jr.
Andrew: Lucinda Williams

My contribution this week is the legendary singer-songwriter, and New Orleans implant, Alex Chilton.

Alex ChiltonThose of you who know me well know that I have a thing for jangly guitars and gravelly voices. The “power pop” label is a little tired, but it fits. I like the power pop. A lot. Therefore, it may surprise you to know how long it took me to discover Big Star, and Alex Chilton. Alex’s career started at a mere 17 years old, when he sang for the Box Tops, on their biggest hit, “The Letter”. You know the song. It always confused me, how such a minor 60s era hit could have given birth to such a cult following among musicians. Until, of course, IN COLLEGE, I heard, “Thank You Friends”, and the rest of Big Star’s “Third/Sister Lover”, and I was hooked. Fairly simple lyrics, with a poignancy that lingered with you, simple structures and chords. Alex Chilton wrote the songs that made you believe rock songwriters could change the world. To hell with the Brill Building, or Bacharach--it was “September Gurls” and “Thirteen” that stole your heart and hold it today.

Perhaps Paul Westerberg said it best when he sang, I never travel far/without a little Big Star. Anyone who’s listened to REM, or the dB’s, or the Replacements has felt the influence of this songwriter. Even “That 70s Show” pays tribute to him in the opening credits (see “In the Street” song link). Although Big Star was really a Memphis band, Chilton has lived in New Orleans since 1982, and was listed among the missing of Hurricane Katrina, but has since been seen and rescued by the Coast Guard.

In the Street - Big Star

MP3 File

Thirteen - Big Star

MP3 File


Blogger Easy said...

I'd never heard of this guy before, but I like it!! I'll be out looking for some of his stuff.

8:16 AM  
Blogger drake leLane said...

Big Star has a new album coming out at the end of this month (In Space, September 27,) their first proper release in nearly 30 years - couple that with Alex's rescue, and it's cause for celebration.

I imagine Alex's experience with the hurricane will be part of the story upon the album's launch.

5:28 PM  

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