The Great Songs: Big Star – Thirteen

by Eric Melin on March 24, 2010

in Columns,The Great Songs

I think this is as good a time as any to start a new weekly series here at Scene-Stealers. As you may or may not know, in addition to starting this website and being a full-time movie critic, I also play the rock n’ roll drums. (See The Dead Girls, Ultimate Fakebook, and Truck Stop Love for some examples.)

big star #1 recordI’ve been as obsessive about rock as I have about movies for as long as I can remember, and I’ve often thought of spotlighting a song a week on Scene-Stealers. After last Wednesday’s sad passing of Alex Chilton, I posted “September Gurls” and it got me thinking: Now’s the time.

Because I’m still not over the loss of one of the best songwriters that ever lived (along with his cohort in Big Star, Chris Bell, who died in a car accident at age 27 in 1978), this week’s song will also be Big Star. I’ll switch it up next Wednesday, but for now just enjoy one of the best ballads ever written. “Thirteen” appeared on Big Star’s first album, 1972′s “#1 Record,” and ironically, went nowhere. I dare you not to fall in love with this beautiful song immediately.

My hope for this weekly series is nothing but exposure for what I consider to be classic tunes. I’ll try to find embed codes for everything I want to post so I’m not violating any copyright laws or anything. Again, I’m just trying to turn people on to what I consider to be some of the best songs around.

I named the series after Roger Ebert’s book series “The Great Movies.” Come back every Wednesday for a new song. Hope you like it.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Reed March 24, 2010 at 8:35 am

This song was actually my introduction to the band. And at first I really didn’t get it. But I come back to this one all the time, whether it’s singing in the shower or putting it on repeat. It’s a perfect blend of tender and wistful. Great choice to start this series off, Eric.

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2 Reed March 24, 2010 at 8:35 am

This song was actually my introduction to the band. And at first I really didn’t get it. But I come back to this one all the time, whether it’s singing in the shower or putting it on repeat. It’s a perfect blend of tender and wistful. Great choice to start this series off, Eric.

Reply

3 Eric Melin March 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm

The reason I picked this as number-one is because the first time you listen to it, it sounds familiar and then you listen to the lyrics and you realize its something quite special. Then it never leaves you.

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4 Eric Melin March 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm

The reason I picked this as number-one is because the first time you listen to it, it sounds familiar and then you listen to the lyrics and you realize its something quite special. Then it never leaves you.

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5 Shelby March 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm

The first few times I heard it, like Reed, I had trouble really enjoying it. But it grew on me (as the best often do), and now I can really look back and appreciate the somewhat loose structure; the feeling that it could fall apart at any moment, but never does. That takes some (songwriting) skillz.

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6 Shelby March 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm

The first few times I heard it, like Reed, I had trouble really enjoying it. But it grew on me (as the best often do), and now I can really look back and appreciate the somewhat loose structure; the feeling that it could fall apart at any moment, but never does. That takes some (songwriting) skillz.

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7 Rich Yarges March 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

This is great idea just don’t be stealing any of my Pop Tarts! Unlike the other folks here I was hooked the moment I heard this song. Maybe it is because it was what I wanted my songs or at least a few of my songs to strive towards.

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8 Rich Yarges March 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

This is great idea just don’t be stealing any of my Pop Tarts! Unlike the other folks here I was hooked the moment I heard this song. Maybe it is because it was what I wanted my songs or at least a few of my songs to strive towards.

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9 Eric Melin March 25, 2010 at 11:47 am

That reminds me…where are the Pop Tarts? I’m in withdrawal!

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10 Eric Melin March 25, 2010 at 11:47 am

That reminds me…where are the Pop Tarts? I’m in withdrawal!

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11 chris March 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

sweet eric! Yeah, i’m still at quite a loss about Chilton’s passing, and the semi-backlash i’ve caught online….see Slate’s Culture Gabfest and a few other things. Basically he get’s beat up for “refusing to be famous on purpose” which is about as assanine thing as I can think of. Evidently several bloggers seem to think he could have just turned the Box Tops into Big Star and had it all, but instead “chose” not to and was a slacker. It’s some convoluted thinking and one more reason to ban the internet.

Anyway, thanks

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12 chris March 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

sweet eric! Yeah, i’m still at quite a loss about Chilton’s passing, and the semi-backlash i’ve caught online….see Slate’s Culture Gabfest and a few other things. Basically he get’s beat up for “refusing to be famous on purpose” which is about as assanine thing as I can think of. Evidently several bloggers seem to think he could have just turned the Box Tops into Big Star and had it all, but instead “chose” not to and was a slacker. It’s some convoluted thinking and one more reason to ban the internet.

Anyway, thanks

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13 Chris Eck March 26, 2010 at 7:55 pm

wow, thanks Eric. I had overlooked how moving this tune really is.

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14 Chris Eck March 26, 2010 at 7:55 pm

wow, thanks Eric. I had overlooked how moving this tune really is.

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15 Eric Melin March 26, 2010 at 11:46 pm

chris- Annoying. They can’t celebrate him and damn him at the same time for being an iconoclast. What does “had it all” mean anyway. Looks like he had the respect, that’s for sure.

Glad you dig it, Chris E. Wait ’til you see what I have in store for next week!

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16 Eric Melin March 26, 2010 at 11:46 pm

chris- Annoying. They can’t celebrate him and damn him at the same time for being an iconoclast. What does “had it all” mean anyway. Looks like he had the respect, that’s for sure.

Glad you dig it, Chris E. Wait ’til you see what I have in store for next week!

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17 jack duhamel January 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm

VG song

- Jack Duhamel

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