October 14, 2011

Big Star :: Documentary Trailer & Covers

I've been on a Big Star kick all week, thanks to the trailer for Nothing Can Hurt Me, a new documentary about the band's "massive critical acclaim, dismal commercial failure," and enduring legacy as "pop music's greatest cult phenomenon." The movie's tagline sums it up: I never heard Big Star on the radio, or even at a record shop. I listened to Big Star because other band's told me to via cover songs and tributes. My introduction to Alex Chilton first came through Elliott Smith's hushed cover of "Thirteen" (there are countless takes on "Thirteen," but like Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," Smith's is the definitive cover version). Later, as I dove more into Replacements' lore, I was pushed more into the world of Big Star, always remembering Paul Westerberg's line from "Alex Chilton": "Never travel far, without a little Big Star." So today, while I play #1 Record, Radio City, and Third/Sister Lovers on repeat, I thought I'd share my favorite Big Star covers by some of my favorite bands. And maybe even turn a few readers on to one of rock's greatest songwriters.

Yo La Tengo - "Take Care"
Elliott Smith - "Thirteen"
Whiskeytown - "Give Me Another Chance"
Jeff Buckley - "Kangaroo"
Dum Dum Girls - "September Gurls"
The Replacements - "September Gurls"
Wilco - "Thank You Friends"
Ted Leo - "The Ballad of El Goodo"
The Replacements - "Alex Chilton (live)"

Big Star


  1. Great post. I was turned on to Big Star through a Replacements obsession: The song Alex Chilton and various live cuts of September Gurls (The one you picked is my favorite) led to research (pre-internet) and a purchase of Third/Sister Lovers at the local Hastings. OK, getting autobiographical here, so I'll get to the point: Listen to Bat for Lashes doing Kangaroo.

  2. Glad to hear of another Mats turned Big Star fan! I dig that Bat For Lashes version as well, but opted for the Jeff Buckley one above, as it's pretty epic and wild.

  3. great selection, just to clear things up, you put replacements' alex chilton on the list as a tribute to alex right? cause that's not a cover ahahah

  4. You should hear William Seen's Transport Music version of 13! Recorded somewhere between 2004 and 2005, awesome!


  5. @Bazzan Really, Alex Chilton didn't write the song "Alex Chilton" about being a fan of Alex Chilton?

    Yes, I'm aware it's a Replacements original. I quote Paul Westerberg's lyric from the song in the post.

  6. and most recently, Big Star's "Ballad of El Goodo" was covered by The Wellspring and their version was featured on [H]OUSE Mon.Oct.17th. Full version here-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7tY8LF6W2k