Like, flies away

This takes me way outside the FreeDarko comfort zone, but fuck it, I've got to speak on this.

Now that Alex Chilton has been confirmed as okay, I don't feel bad saying that I found Chilton Watch 2005 a little nauseating. Don't get me wrong, I've spent as much time whimpering with Sister Lovers as the next child of the indie age. . . that is, when I wasn't downing forties and bumping Main Source (close one there). But while wondering about the fate of Allen Toussiant, Eddie Bo, Irma Thomas, or even Juvy's house uses star power serves as a way of mourning for the city (and acknowledging the loss of a unique culture, and the very ordinary people who have allowed it to flourish), making Alex Chilton a priority almost obscures the bigger picture.

Fixating on NOLA legends was an entry point into the broader human and cultural cataclysm at hand, but holding vigil for Chilton—not in any way, shape or form a symbol of New Orleans—made it into a tragedy of stars. The irony, of course, is that Chilton has spent much of his life connecting, often quite convincingly, with the music and musicians of his native Memphis. As my brother pointed out today, Big Star is the exception that proved the rule of roots in his career; were Memphis going under, Chilton would mean something more than himself. For most of those who spent the last few days lighting up the internet with concern, though, he's primarily the guy that fronted Big Star, which has very little to do with Memphis's local color—much less that of another city.

I know that what I'm proposing is a little inhuman: of course, we can't help but feel a personal bond with musicians who hold some significance for us, and it's not as if Chilton's life became less important because, as a white transplant who should have been able to get out of town, he didn't fit the profile of a NOLA hurricane victim. Still, he is only one man, and in the face of this much death and destruction, it's equally insensitive to not find a way to honor the entirety of the city in your concern.

And I realize that including this soundfile makes it seem like I'm trying to demonstrate my moral superiority, but I can't stop listening to it and this seems as good a time as ever for me to post something. It's from NOLA, haunting in both its melancholy and air of menace, half-dreamt with uneasy dread, meaningful on a bunch of levels despite obvious problems of contradiction, and just generally evocative of where things are at.

From a Whisper to a Scream-Allen Toussaint


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At 9/05/2005 12:09 AM, Anonymous aug said...

Big Star was a pretty great band though.

At 9/05/2005 6:08 PM, Anonymous brickowski said...

not the appropriate place, but...

If you're in South Texas you can donate to relief efforts and get to see FreeDarko faves Artest, AI, or T-Mac in the flesh. A $50 donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund gets you 2 preseason tix to watch the Champs against either the Pacers, Rockets, Sixers or (god forbid) the Knicks. Here's the schedule:
Saturday, October 15 - Spurs vs. Rockets - 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 22 - Spurs vs. Knicks - 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, October 25 - Spurs vs. Pacers - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 27 - Spurs vs. 76ers - 7:30 p.m.

The only difficulty is that it has to be done at the Spurs box office. I'm going down there tomorrow and if anyone has interest I could pick up tix and mail them.

At 9/05/2005 9:24 PM, Blogger elandfried said...

OK, also not the right place, but for levity's sake:


"Ballad of El Goodo" is one of my top 10 songs of all time.

At 9/05/2005 9:49 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

to be clear: i absolutely worship big star, and was checking regularly for news on chilton. i just had mixed feelings about all the attention he was receiving. i wanted to know, but i wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat or anything, and i can't say i felt any better once he'd been spotted safe and sound.

the following big star songs all have a very good chance at making my all-time top ten: "life is white," "daisy glaze," "kangaroo," "stroke it noel."

At 9/05/2005 10:06 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

then again, i would take toussaint's "life, love and faith" over any of the big star lp's

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