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April 14, 2010


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My introduction to Big Star actually came from film, when I heard Elliott Smith's sweet cover of Chilton's "Thirteen" for Mike Mill's Thumbsucker. I fell in love with the lyrics and felt compelled to search for the original artist. The rest is history.

Keep An Eye On The Sky has been spinning in my ears since last year nonstop, only recently enhanced by Chilton's dead. And the recent light shed on his health insurance issues just made the whole thing sadder.

Jaques Dutronc

Great work, Glenn.

The following piece, exhaustively researched, shines tons of white light on a very murky period in Chilton's mysterious life...



While not covered in the piece, this particular period was marked by Chilton's mounting obsession with Wilhelm Reich. From what I've gathered, this interest, more than his bitterness at Big Star's commercial failure, accounted for his staunch dismissal of those early records. Apparently, he viewed those songs largely through the lens of Reich-ian theory (i.e. puerile vestiges of a pre-actualized, sexually-infantile self).

Alot of layers to the Chilton onion, that's for sure.

Matt Miller

Gonna out myself here and point out an omission from the imdb page: "Thirteen" was featured prominently in an episode of GILMORE GIRLS, a show in which the junior title character's prep school was named...Chilton Academy.


Great catch, Matt-- I remembered the song on GILMORE GIRLS, but I never made the connection between Alex Chilton and Rory's school.

Matt Miller

I've always assumed that the school's name was not only a tribute to Chilton himself, but also an homage to HEATHERS' "Westerburg High."


Thanks. I'd gotten my hands on "Keep An Eye On the Sky" a while ago and not really messed around with it much, didn't realize it'd been remastered -- and I've NEVER heard "The Ballad of El Goodo" like this. My day just got better.


Only released for public consumption once Alex was unable to prevent it, this out-take from William Eggleston's quite extraordinary Stranded in Canton presents a very relaxed, engaging Alex at a time when the mythology would have him riddled with bitterness and full of drugs:


Intriguingly, on a recent trip to Memphis I caught up with some gossip that would suggest a new, intriguingly sexual and religious angle to the Ardent Records/early Big Star scene...

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