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Your Favorite Band: Alex Chilton and Ray Davies

Alex Chilton and Ray Davies smoke cigs in the friscalating dusklight.
March 28, 2012, 5:00am

For this installment of Your Favorite Band, Christiaan Mader of Brass Bed brings Alex Chilton and Ray Davies together. 

He pats the front pocket of his wrinkled linen shirt, looking for the similarly crumpled soft pack of menthol cigarettes he knows is in there. His eyes fix on the bold red door before him: a Technicolor exaltation beaming at him like a light after death. Nerves shake his fingers as he fumbles about his shirt, forgetting the butt still burning his mouth. A battered guitar case that serves as his offering grows heavy on his forearm, burdening already tensed and humbled shoulders.

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"I’m Alex." He rehearses, sticking out his now unencumbered shaking-hand, and gripping a phantom paw with a manly tug. "I’m a big fan." A deep breath grounds his thoughts, as he looks back up to a now chipped and fading red front door sagging into the mildewed floorboards of a shotgun house porch. The space between the Decatur Street sidewalk to Ray’s front door still seems an impossible crucible. One more cigarette, and he'll go in.

He puts out the second cigarette and reaches back to his pocket, pulling the pack into his soaked and clammy hands. He slides another into his mouth, and then another.

"Maybe I should just leave him be," he says to himself. "I mean, the man’s just been shot…"

The busted leather hide and limp handle of the guitar case look especially pathetic now. Alex sighed and picks it back up, turning about face toward his own Treme cottage across the street. He picks up his guitar case and begins to retreat.

“Death of a Clown” pops in his head as he lights his smoke, coughing immediately from the back of his dried-out throat.

“FUCK!” he shouts accidentally in a flurry of hacking and coughing and cussing that sullies the gentle lilt of his Tennessee drawl.

As he nears his own house mere yards away, Ray’s front door swings open in a racket of rusted hinges and slaps against decayed siding of the porch wall.

Alex freazes. He hikes his shoulders up to his ears and turns to face a pale Englishman with a rocker mullet standing shirtless in a green terrycloth bathrobe and a pair of shorts. His taut belly, with tufts of graying hair, is humanizing and unglamorous, but the gauze bandages on his leg give him an air of martial intimidation. This was not a man to be trifled with, even as far as famous cranks go. This was a veteran god and war-hero, who fought the good fight against the powerman’s money go round and came out alive.

The humidity suffocates Alex as he clutches his chest and gapes at Ray. When he opens his mouth to speak, a coughing fit erupts from his chest, spewing his cigarette from his mouth on to the cracked and broken sidewalk.  Alex watches in horror as it hits the ground, rolling toward an anthill erupting in a crack between two concrete slabs. He slowly turns his head up, eyes expecting laughter but meeting a wry smile on the wounded idol standing on the porch a mere twenty yards away.

He pats obsessive and furious for his cigarette pack, only to find that it too had fallen to the ground when he had bent over to find that butt.  He looks back at Ray, still there smiling, probably halfway through mentally writing some sarcastic character piece about the creepy jerk that stalked him with a guitar. Before Alex could gather his guitar, his cigarette pack, and his dignity from the sidewalk, a nasal English shout split through dense air.

“Enough with the coughing bit, mate. Let’s get you another smoke!”

Previously: Your Favorite Band - Steve Albini