IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
I have to write about Big Star this week. Why? Because it was meant to be. I’ve been stumbling across Big Star/Alex Chilton references for several weeks now and I can take a hint.
In August I came across The Onion’s A.V. Club article on the band. A few weeks later I saw a Salon article called Mike Mills: “I discovered Big Star the same way I discovered much of the music I love ¬— by listening to Peter Buck’s record collection”.
Finally, the reunited Replacements appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on September 9th, and what did they choose to perform? You got it – the song they wrote for their hero “Alex Chilton”.
My choice for a Big Star SotW today is “O My Soul.” It could be something different tomorrow because I love this band so much I have a new favorite every time I listen to their albums.
Mark Deming captures the beauty of this song in his AllMusic.com review:
On Big Star’s second album, Radio City, the departure of co-founder Chris Bell left Alex Chilton as the group’s sole guitarist, and the album’s first cut wasted no time in pushing his ragged-but-right instrumental style to the forefront. “O My Soul” is a gloriously messy hodgepodge of slashed-out R&B rhythms, psychedelic chord twists, and smart pop melodicism; the melody, fractured as it is, swerves all over the place, but Chilton’s breathless forward momentum (as well as the propulsive energy of drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel) keeps the tune on track, and the cut is one of the most exciting (and most curiously funky) in the Big Star catalog. As for Chilton’s lyrics, he seems to be having as much fun with his words as with his music: “I can’t get a license/To drive in my car/But I won’t really need one/If I’m a big star” is typical of the cheeky, surreal wit, though the refrain, “Never you mind/Go on and have a good time,” sums up whatever “message” he has to offer.
If you enjoy this song and want to learn more about Big Star and Alex Chilton, be sure to click on the links provided to read the articles. Also, there’s a very good documentary about the band that came out last year called Nothing Can Hurt Me. It’s available to stream on NetFlix and here’s a review of the movie from The New Yorker.
Enjoy… until next week.