From The Desk Of Mercury Rev: “A Man Called Destruction: The Life And Music Of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops To Big Star To Backdoor Man” By Holly George-Warren

The Light In YouMercury Rev’s 10th full-length and first in seven years—picks up where 2008’s Snowflake Midnight left off, with stalwart founders Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper drawing inspiration from nature and the Rubik’s Cube of love in equal measure. There is a strong autumnal vibe about the affair—a modern Days Of Future Passed, complete with sweeping orchestral touches and wistful remembrances by the fistful. When the band’s “psychedelic rock and blue-eyed soul” finds its groove, it’s still a breathless wonder to behold. Mercury Rev will be guest editing all week. Read out MAGNET Classics feature on the band’s Yerself Is Steam.


Grasshopper: This biography is so engaging, it is really difficult to put down. I read the whole darn book in one long 24-hour sitting. Holly George-Warren painstakingly provides the reader with an intensely vibrant and intimate feel for this legendary man.
 The story of Alex Chilton is a great American tale. It is like a modern-day Faulkner novel, from his childhood, growing up in Memphis, the tragedy of his older brother’s death, his hanging out with his musician/artist family and bohemian parents (friends with photographer William Eggleston, who often lived in the family house) to teenage star in the Box Tops (touring mates were the Doors and Beach Boys). Then there was Big Star. That is a whole story in and of itself. Moving on to post-Big Star days in punk NYC, producing the Cramps and playing CBGB, Chilton found himself back in Memphis where he played as a member of Tav Falco’s band, followed by his days sobering up as a dishwasher in New Orleans, and then on to a resurgence with Box Tops and Big Star reunions, and his final albums; stripped down covers ranging from Carole King songs to Chet Baker tunes, from Johnny Watson to Cubist Blues with Alan Vega and Ben Vaughn, while his guitar playing always amazed. His album Set, released in 2000 on Bar/None, is one of my all-time favorites. His death from a heart attack at 60 years old just before playing a Big Star reunion at SXSW was as numbing in 2010 as it still is today.
 Just like a cat, in Chilton’s short life he lived almost nine lives. Through the ups and downs, the music was always driving him toward redemption; a testament to the power of musical vibrations as a connective tissue to healing a battered soul.

Video after the jump.