If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it's that if you live long enough, your culture heroes will start dying off. Even with that knowledge, it still (usually) comes as a shock. Some you can see coming - once June Carter passed, you knew it wasn't going to be too long before Johnny Cash went as well - and some just sorta blindside you (Joe Strummer being the biggest example - up until now).
Big Star got me through some of the roughest times in my life, specifically via repeated listenings to #1 Record and Radio City. I had them both on a 90 minute cassette, with a couple of Nick Drake tunes stuck on the end of each side. I still have it, somewhere. I think it’s still playable, but only just. Not so much due to age, although that would have to be factored in, but the sheer number of times I’ve played it over the years, rewinding to repeat certain songs over and over. The tape has got to be pretty thin and brittle by this point.
I know it’s not a very fashionable position to have these days, but I still firmly believe in the redemptive potential of rock & roll. It’s a lot cooler to be all post-modern and detached and whatnot, but fuck that. I’m well past the age where being cool is even an option, much less something to be concerned about. Was my life saved by rock & roll? I suppose you could say that, although it would be more accurate (and a lot less melodramatic) to say that my life was made more bearable by it. As Pete Townshend once said, rock won't solve your problems but it will let you dance all over them. Which, given all the options, is good enough.
I'm not really in any position to write up a proper appreciation of Alex Chilton, to tell you why you should listen to him. I don't really have the aesthetic distance to pull it off at the moment. I guess I just wanted to say thanks for the dance.