Thursday, September 24, 2015

Alex Chilton: It Isn't That Easy

Converts to Big Star and Big Star-ism all note, as many of us noted in State College and Philadelphia (New York, I noted, was light on the Big Star), that so much of what Big Star is, is wrapped up in a sense of darkness, eeriness, and just generally being haunted. Yet Big Star’s best music has a strange glamour to it, a kind of enchantment, which makes its own eeriness (or duskiness, sometimes) euphoric. So it is with this Alex Chilton demo from the early Seventies. The intimacy here, just a voice and acoustic guitar, and what is expressed in the lyrics— deep introspection, leading to a sense of isolation and also, as later in Holocaust, self-knowledge— would not seem devastating if Chilton didn’t appear to have a certain X factor (the glamour, the enchantment) working in his favor, but he did. This would have been a stand-out track on #1 Record, which would seem to have been the natural place for it. Chilton might have forgotten it or it might have been left off for other reasons. In any case, its out now, and carries with it all the haunted luminosity that the rest of Big Star’s oeuvre does, for those with imaginations and ears to hear.

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