The Life of Alex Chilton

This story in The Times-Picayune is so moving that it bears repeating. Some may find it odd, but this portrait of Alex, to me, is a life lived honestly and a life worthy of admiration. There is so much focus and value placed on monetary success in our society and Alex didn't seem to care for it. He lived how he wanted to live. He lived how he felt he was meant to live. He didn't need the spotlight. He didn't need people fawning over him. He wanted a normal, simple and comfortable life among the people of New Orleans.

Hero is a grossly overused term in our society, but when pressed to name some of mine, I always start with Martin Luther King, Jr. To me, he was the embodiment of good, courage, humility, justice and altruism. I then toss around folks like Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, my grandfather, my mother, Jeff Tweedy, William Faulkner, Paul Wellstone and a few others. Folks who either inspired me and others or played a direct role in impacting my life. But if pressed to add another, Alex Chilton would make the short list. I loved Big Star the moment I heard them, and that love only grew and grew as the years passed. They only released three records, yet every one, now 30+ years later, sounds not only fresh, but absolutely alive. The music business failed them. And Chilton stepped away for a quiet life. Big Star maybe wouldn't have been as big as The Beatles, but those three records prove that they were almost as good. Many say that they defined and were the forefathers of power pop. To me, they were much more: rock and roll, beautiful songwriting, spirituality. Listen to #1 Record and you'll quickly move from jumping out of your seat on "Feel" or "In the Street" to soaking in the beauty of "The Ballad of El Goodo" and "Thirteen." The quintessential power pop band, some say. The quintessential band, I say.