Top 10 Big Star Songs

Big Star Songs

Photo: Marcelo Costa, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Our Top 10 Big Star songs list looks back at a band that captivated a large loyal cult following while only releasing less than a handful of albums in the 1970s. The band arrived on the music scene in 1972 with an album entitled #1 RecordThe record featured musicians Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel, and Jody Stephens. The group instantly found an audience and was lauded by critics and fans. The band released two more albums in the 1970s and one in 2005 that featured only two original members in Chilton and Stephens. Big Star never became a huge mainstream band for various reasons. One was the simple fact they could never get wide record distribution. Nonetheless, their legacy has grown immensely over the years, and they are now considered one of the most inspiring rock bands of all time. I would argue heavily that we are not the only ones to say Big Star is one of our favorite bands.

# 10 – Feel

We open up our top 10 Big Star songs with the great rock piece entitled “Feel.” This song’s guitar riff that pounds away at you is entirely captivating. It grinds away into the break and then explodes into a brilliant guitar solo as the horns wrap around it, with that saxophone wailing in the background and the piano keys twinkling in between. There is so much going on, and it sounds oh-so-wonderful. This is a rock and roll roller coaster of a song. It’s a perfect way to open up our list of top 10 Big Star songs.

The song Feel was released on the band’s first album entitled #1 Record. The album was released in 1972. The song “Feel,” was the album’s opening track. Chris Bell sang lead vocals on the track. The lineup for this track, as with the rest of the album, included Alex Chilton and Chris Bell on guitars and vocals, Andy Hummel on bass, and Jody Stephens on drums. The album #1 Record was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. John Fry oversaw the production.

# 9 – When My Baby’s Beside Me

Continuing with our list of the top 10 Big Star songs, we present this modern-style song entitled “When My Baby’s Beside Me,” which was a bit ahead of its time. One can tell Nick Lowe was listening to this one. This one has a great guitar riff that is assailed by some great guitar solos that surround it. It’s guitar heaven, packed with a perfect pop song. That’s Big Star, and that’s why we love this band so much. “When My Baby’s Beside Me” was also released on the band’s debut album #1 Record in 1972. The song opened up side two of the album. Alex Chilton sang lead vocals on “When My Baby’s Beside Me.”

# 8 – For You

This has always been one of my favorite Big Star songs. “For You,” was released on the group’s third album entitled Third. The song was composed by Jody Stephens. It’s a gentle song fueled by a breathtaking string section that echoes the way George Martin used stings in some of the Beatles’ cinematic adventures. Jody’s vocals and drums are right up front in this sweet song that brilliantly balances the tenderness of major chords and the mystery of the minor ones to make this an adventurous musical tale of wonderment.

# 7 – Daisy Glaze

Big Star’s “Daisy Glaze” opens with such a soft and endearing touch that will force the listener to drop everything they’re doing instantly to follow where this one is going. “Daisy Glaze” continues to build slowly with intensity as the song continues onward. There is a beauty shining here that transcends into a rock and roll experience at about the two-minute mark. No one sounded like this. “Daisy Glaze” is simply a majestic piece of music. the song was composed by Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens.

# 6 – I’m In Love With a Girl

Big Star’s “I’m In Love With A Girl” was released in 1974. If you had never heard this song before, you might have thought it was a Bob Dylan or a Byrds song from the opening guitar chords. However, once Alex Chilton began singing, there is no doubt that this was something very different. You can hear from Alex Chilton’s phrasing that this was a song that Kurt Cobain might have been heavily influenced by. There is definitely a connection between the work of Big Star and Nirvana, who came many years later. It’s just stunning how many 90s artists were inspired by Big Star.

The song “I’m In Love With A Girl” was issued on the band’s second album titled Radio City. The song was placed as the closing song on the album. “I’m In Love With A Girl,” was written by Alex Chilton. The song never became as big as it should have. The same goes for the album simply because the record was never widely distributed to record stores when it was first released. That was a colossal mistake but simply just another commonality in the story of classic rock.

# 5 – Nightime

At number six on this list of top 10 Big Star songs is Alex Chilton’s harrowing ballad “Nightime.” The song was released on Big Star’s third album entitled Third. In 1985 it was issued as Third/Sister Lovers. The simplicity of the song that starts out with just an acoustic guitar and the chilling voice of Alex Chilton reaches out to the listener and holds them captive until the last note is played. Don’t miss this one. For the band’s third album only Alex and Jody remained from the original group. It’s amazing how many different versions of this album has been released over the years.

# 4 – The Ballad of El Goodo

As we enter the second half of our top 10 Big Star songs list, we present one of the best tracks the band ever recorded. The song “The Ballad Of El Goodo” was released on the band’s debut album entitled #1 Record released in 1972. Alex Chilton wrote the song. “The Ballad Of El Goodo” was placed as the second song on side one of the album. Check out our interview with Jody Stephens, in which he comments about this song.

# 3 – Kanga Roo

This cool Big Star song has a certain airiness to it that makes you want to kick back, close your eyes and chill to the music. “Kanga Roo,” takes the listener on a ride that never ends, even after the song is over. That’s when you know a song is quite magical. It’s probably why they also placed the song as the last track on the record.

# 2 – Thirteen

This is such a gorgeous song. This one goes straight to the heart. “Thirteen” was released on the band’s first album entitled #1 Record. This may be the most loved Big Star song of all time. Alex Chilton and Chris Bell wrote the song. It’s hard not to get emotional when listening to this one.  There are not many songs that can hit you straight in the heart from just the opening guitar chords. You can really hear how songs like this one so inspired bands like The Replacements. Listen to those beautiful harmonies. It’s just jaw-dropping.

# 1 – September Gurls

At number one is our favorite Big Star song of all time. The song’s swing and swaying groove sounds so good and stands as that perfect late summer or early fall song. It’s one of those songs you can’t get out of your head. The song was released on the band’s second album entitled Radio City. “September Gurls” was written by Alex Chilton.  Many other artists have covered the song over the years, including a great version recorded and released by The Bangles.

Updated April 20, 2023

Top 10 Big Star Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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