Sound it Out # 52: Big Star "Thirteen" (Alternate mix, 1972) (free MP3)
I've never been fond of the Beatles. Maybe it had something to do with my dad singing along with the especially dopey early-era stuff and embarrassing me in front of my pre-teen friends, but they always struck me as trite and clunky. I realize that they influenced much of the music I love, they just never moved me. When I first heard Big Star, they appealed to me the way that I imagine the Beatles do to many: the innocent and heartfelt lyrics, the gorgeous vocal harmonizing, and the gentle and jangly melodies come together (*heh*) to form something magical. Big Star are my Beatles.
The original Big Star (and the one that I refer to) only existed from 1971-1974. Positive press did not amount to any kind of real-world success, and the the band fizzled out. There's a lot more to this story, including the tragic and early deaths of all of its members save for drummer Jody Stephens and the the briefly-lived second incarnation of Big Star in 1993. It's all told in a new documentary called Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. The movie is in select theaters and on pay-per-view and iTunes. Pesco did a post about the film here.
The soundtrack for Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me includes outtakes and unreleased mixes from Big Star's short career. This version of "Thirteen" is a great example of all the things I love about the band. Click on the word "Download" in the Soundcloud player below to download.