“I never go far without a little Big Star” is a line from The Replacement’s Alex Chilton, which is about the wayward Big Star and Box Tops guitarist and vocalist.

Big Star, if music journalism is to be believed, through a few impossible to find out-of-print records recorded in the 70s, defined what became the pop informed power-pop rock template that The Replacements and REM (among others) were to draw heavily. REM covers “I am the Cosmos” and The Replacements, of course, have their paean to Alex Chilton. Nearly every rock journalism reference to Big Star, whether from musicians who cite them as a influence, or in album reviews, speak of Big Starof their exalted greatness in hushed tones generally reserved for The Beatles.

A newly constituted Big Star played in Brooklyn, for which I suspect is a warm-up for a Coachella appearance. Here is a live take of Thirteen from the recent Brooklyn show. This song, you might know, was nicely covered by Elliot Smith.

[audio: http://www.thesoundofindie.com/archive/2009/20091215/BigStar-Thirteen.mp3|titles=Thirteen (Live)|artists=Big Star]

Download: Big Star – Thirteen (Live)


  1. I can’t find anything about REM doing a cover of Chris Bell’s “I am the Cosmos.” I know The Posies did (of which two members are now in Big Star).

  2. For many many years I thought I first heard “I am the Cosmos” for the first time as a REM cover, but I guess I was mistaken. I suppose it could have been the Posies version I heard. Oops. Sorry about that.

  3. Pingback: The Sound Of Indie

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