This is Alex Chilton. You've probably been hearing his voice your whole life, if you've ever heard that song that goes Lonely days are gone, I'm a-goin' home/My baby just-a wrote me a letter. That's "The Letter" by The Box Tops, which Alex was in when he was a baby/teenager. When I first started getting into Big Star I figured someone else in The Box Tops sang on "The Letter" 'cause Alex's voice is usually all high and sweet and weird - but turns out it's totally him, he's just using some growly big-man voice. I like his weird voice about thousand times better, for whatever that's worth.
Anyway I'm desperately love with Alex Chilton now and it's so heavy. Here are four of the things that contributed to his becoming my everything:
Alex Chilton and I have the same birthday (December 28th), which means a lot to me. A cool thing about Alex is that birthdays meant a lot to him too. I learned that from this book called Big Star: The Short Life, Painful Death, and Unexpected Resurrection of the Kings of Power Pop, which I read over the past few weeks. Here is a page I love (just read the underlined part):
Haha, my nails are so trashed. Alex is so cool. I love how he didn't share his weed and I love how he's so enlightened in his misanthropy. He cares so much more about the heavens than all the jerks on Earth.
ii. HE WRITES THE BEST SONGS OUT OF ANYONE IN THE WORLD! OR AT LEAST THE BEST SONGS TO ME
I'm not going to write about his music in this post (I'm not ready for that), but it's worth noting that my favorite Alex Chilton solo song today is "Take Me Home and Make Me Like It" (whose title Liz Phair ripped off for the lyrics to "Flower," in that "genius steals" sort of way):
I have so much to say about "Take Me Home and Make Me Like It," but for now I'll just tell you that it's the best mix of fun and fucked-up and perfect I can ever remember hearing in a song. Alex Chilton is the most beautiful sicko.
iii. THAT ENLIGHTENED MISANTHROPY THING I WAS JUST TALKING ABOUT
At first when I started reading the Big Star book I was like, "I hope I don't learn anything bad about Alex Chilton, I hope Alex Chilton doesn't turn out to be a jerk." SPOILER ALERT: Alex Chilton was a total jerk! He was "difficult" and mean and sometimes violent - or at least that's true of what we know of him from the Big Star book, which of course is hardly very much at all. There's this one part where it's 1981 and some fan takes a bus from northern California to Memphis just to try to track down Alex, because he loves Big Star so much, and ends up finding him in a bar and Alex agrees to hang out with him as long as the guy buys all his cigarettes and booze and doesn't talk about music. And they hang out for a week and one night go to the hospital where Jerry Lee Lewis is rumored to be dying and drink beer and eat Taco Bell on the front lawn, and then the dude tells Alex he can't afford to keep paying for his shit, and Alex is like "All right, see ya" and then that's that and the guys gets back on the bus and goes home.
There's also this part earlier in the book where it's the Box Tops days and Alex is hanging out at Dennis Wilson's house and the Manson Family's there, and they send Alex out to buy groceries and he forgets the milk and the Manson Family bugs out, and Alex gets "strange vibes" and decides to leave. I don't know what that has to do with enlightened misanthropy, but I think it's kinda amusing that it took getting yelled at about milk for Alex to realize something a little off about Charles Manson.
Anyway the point is I don't care, even if Alex Chilton was a rotten human being every second of his life. People who put greatness into the world have every right to be ridiculous assholes whenever they feel like it. This is an important truth.
iv. GRACEFULNESS & BEAUTY
I mean look at him for god's sake:
And his voice, his beautiful weird angelic heart-killing heart-saving beautiful beautiful voice. I bet in heaven you just hear "Stroke It Noel" all the time, it just plays from the air.
And speaking of "The Letter" and of gracefulness and beauty, I'm currently addicted to watching this video of The Box Tops lip-synching the letter on some TV show in 1967. Alex is 16 here and it feels a little gross to be in love with a 16-year-old boy but I can't help it, he's perfect. I love his tie, plus his general "tie approach"/style/hotness/legs/self. I love his hair, and how for most of the song he alternates between looking he's about to cry and looking like he hates everything. I love how stoned his eyes are when he's trying not to laugh. I love how he basically has no moves, but then in the last few moments he has ALL THE MOVES. I love his "pointing move," and above all I love how he keeps up the "I hate everything" look even while dancing.
Beautifully dance your way through hating everything, is one of the four best things I've learned since falling in love with Alex Chilton last Friday. I love you Alex, so much.
(P.S. All of the pics in this post came from here.)