Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: A Man Called Destruction

A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor ManA Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man by Holly George-Warren

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars instead of 2. On one hand, this biography is well-written and George-Warren is devoted to her subject. She faithfully follows the chronology of Chilton’s life and has many anecdotes from friends and colleagues to illustrate. On the other hand, there is very little arc to the story (Chilton writes music, Chilton fucks up, Chilton chases girls, repeat) and the last 20 years of Chilton’s life is compressed down to one chapter after having many previously painstakingly detailed chapters. A quote from Paul Westerberg late in the book sums up the question at the center of this bio: “Now I listen to [Chilton’s] new compilation [19 Years] and I can’t make up my mind whether Alex was some brilliant chameleon or just a guy who fucking lost it real quick.” This bio unfortunately doesn’t provide any answers and this particular reader was bored and saddened by the repetitive patterns of events. I also wanted to know more about Chilton’s participation in the punk scene and how he seemed to be an unnamed godfather of psychobilly music. But now that I think about it, I think I just really want a 33 1/3 series entry on the Cramps’ Songs the Lord Taught Us, which Chilton produced. Ultimately, I would recommend George-Warren’s book to Chilton completists but I warn you that you may not find this bio satisfying.

View all my reviews

Advertisements