Ballroom Dancing

SXSW panels

Ballroom Dancing
Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

What Becomes a Legend Most?

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 19

Any discussion of music legends this year was guaranteed to focus on the late great Alex Chilton, who died this week prior to coming to South by Southwest, where he was scheduled to play. And this free-flowing sit-down was a case in point, though Chilton's wasn't the only legacy under examination. "When you met Kurt [Cobain of Nirvana], did you think he would be the touchstone of a generation?" was one of the first questions posed to Sub Pop founder Jonathan Poneman. "I didn't see him as that," Poneman responded. "Not to take anything away from what Kurt accomplished, but I think the myth around that band has obscured the music they made." The question was asked by moderator Karen Glauber of Hits magazine, an indie-rock pioneer, who for better or worse later referred to Chilton as "the Cobain of our generation." Meanwhile, Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, a minor-key legend in his own right, spoke directly to the notion that starry-eyed ambition isn't necessarily a tactic for making lasting art. "You always want more, that's what rock & roll is about," Kaye shared. "But we were sort of always on the dirty underbelly of the mainstream, and in a lot of ways that's the best place to be."

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