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John Lennon

You Can Celebrate Anything You Want

You've read about them

in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times.

HERE'S the big beat sound of that

fantastic, phenomenal foursome:

Beatles 45 pic sleeve for Please Please Me

Emitt Rhodes: At Last?

Here’s how my mind works sometimes. Like a relay race. Alex Chilton dies and the synapses start yapping and snapping and something like this comes out. I had read and heard in different places, Paul Westerberg’s tribute in the online New York Times, a conversation I had with someone who knew him, that in the years after he moved from Memphis to New Orleans, Chilton was washing dishes for a living or as Westerberg mentioned, living in a tent in Tennessee. Whether these things were about choice or necessity, I don’t know. On the face of it, they are not activities one associates with legendary rock status, or lifestyle choices popular musicians normally make. But I don’t claim to have known Alex Chilton through anything but his music, and although his talent for melody seemed to flow without effort, there was nothing easy about the way Chilton treated it, as has been previously noted by Robert Hull on this site.

So what do I know? Washing dishes and living in a tent might have fulfilled some promise he made to himself. He would try to live like an ascetic. He would try the mendicant path. Maybe anything worth saying isn’t supposed to come easy.

But the synapses start yapping and snapping and the baton gets passed. I think, hey, what about That 70’s Show? Didn’t he make a pile from “In the Street?” Didn’t that show give the world Mila Kunis from Kiev? Didn’t Chilton agree to a Box Tops tour not so long ago? Hey, didn’t Big Star make their first studio record since 1973 in 2005 and weren’t they scheduled to play at South by Southwest when Chilton passed away. Wasn’t the world becoming A.C.’s oyster again?


Alex Chilton in the studio

Growing up in Memphis back in '67, I used to get tired of hearing the Box Top's ‘The Letter’ (#1 hit in the world that year) on the radio every second because DJs felt obligated to reduntantly remind listeners that here, at last, was a hometown band that had hit the Big Time. (In The eyes of Nehru-clad visionaries, Memphis's Sun rockabilly and Stax soul – the untamed past – were irrelevant to the expectations for a bright Sgt. Pepper future.)

Fame's a brief candle though, and soon the Box Tops were inserted in the annals of anthropop history. That is, until '72 when their ex-vocalist Alex Chilton began making racket with Big Star, a name not meant as a cynical reference to the Box Tops' instant stardom but simply referring to Memphis' Big Star supermarket chain, where as a teen I used to buy Hit Parader (which printed the lyrics to all the Box Tops' hits).

Much has been written about Big Star's initial lack of success. True, #1 Record and Radio City are infectious pop LPs, but they're also rather uneven, their best moments on singles (i.e. ‘When My Baby's Beside Me’, ‘September Gurls’). As for Alex Chilton, his cultism is worth examining, not only because his recent works, the Singer Not The Song EP and ‘Bangkok’ 45, are well-crafted gems, but also because he's still out there fighting for fresh sounds (despite a disbanded Big Star, whose influence is heard in the music of Sneakers/Chris Stamey and Memphis Scruffs).


Beatles front cover of 45 single Strawberry Fields Forever


1. Penny Lane (3:01)        Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]    
2. Baby You're A Rich Man (3:01)  Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]  
3. Only A Northern Song [Mono]    Yellow Submarine [2009 Stereo Remaster]    
4. Magical Mystery Tour (2:50)    Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]    5. The Fool On The Hill [Take 4] (3:45)      Anthology 2 [Disc 2]    
6. Your Mother Should Know  2:28  Magical Mystery Tour[2009 Stereo Remaster]  
7. Flying (2:16)                 Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]    
8. Blue Jay Way (3:55)       Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]    
9. I Am The Walrus (4:36)  Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]    
10. All You Need Is Love (3:50)  Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]    
11. Hello Goodbye (3:29)        Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Remaster]    
12. Strawberry Fields Forever (4:01) Magical Mystery Tour [2009 Stereo Re]

Beatles Penny Lane  45 sleeve

What's the New Mary Jane? (Take 4, acetate): THE BEATLES

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I am working on a compilation called  Worst of the Beatles

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