Monthly Archives: September 2012

Completely Unoriginal Thoughts About Big Star

Who am I writing this post for, and why? Well, I seem to be in period of intense musical openness and have been listening to a lot of my student’s recommendations. I have been trying not to make my own. But here is one I want to talk about; maybe some of my musically-inclined students will give a few moments of reading and listening time to this band.

As an aside before getting started, when I signed up for a DJ spot at our college radio station (WUSO!), I was asked in the application form to name three bands I would play. How can one decide this question! That is like asking a parent to name their favorite child or a chef to name their favorite dish to prepare! However, I wrote that I would play The Small Faces, Spoon, and Big Star.

OK, so why is Big Star interesting? Well, first, their story is totally compelling. They had the most tragic history of any band I can think of. And here is a great description of that history from an NPR radio program.

Second, and you read this description often, to me the music is timeless, speaking to issues of youth and young adulthood in simple, truthful ways with a hefty helping of pain and sadness but also a resounding joy. The one observation I would make that might be novel is this – so many of the songs on the first two LPs – #1 Record and Radio City could be radio hits today. The production is not dated to my ears despite being recorded in the early 70s, the vocal harmonies are intensely great, and they made some damn catchy hooks.

And, speaking of NPR, here is an account of one college-aged intern’s reading of the album upon first listen – will my students feel the same way?

OK, trying not to make this tl;dr, let me now post a few YouTube videos so you can see what I am talking about. Thanks for reading and listening, and if you actually make it this far, please let me know what you think.

First, a song from That 70s Show you may be familiar with, taken from the first record:

September Gurls, from the second record:

The snarling Don’t Lie To Me from the first LP:

And what could be sweeter than this simple love song, I’m In Love With A Girl, from the second record: