9. The Replacements - Alex Chilton
Tributes to rock star heroes tend to be written after the subject has passed away. In the case of The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton”, the former Big Star frontman was still alive, however, and even on friendly terms with songwriter Paul Westerberg.
Big Star’s influential jangly power pop isn’t an immediate point of reference for The Replacements’ early days, but as the band mellowed and added more melody to their music, shades of the Memphis legends started to seep in. This song is straightforward hero worship, with Westerberg recounting a meeting with Chilton which he fanboys over.
He paints Chilton as an otherworldly figure, a legend in his own time. While Chilton wasn’t at the height of his relevance, he was already an icon thanks to his ‘70s work, and someone able to leave the peak-power Westerberg star-struck. Most important of all was the music - as the chorus goes: “I’m in love with that song”.
Chilton eventually heard the song and was touched by the tribute. He’d go on to tour with the band, for whom “Alex Chilton” is a highlight of their latter period.