This another little feature thing that I did for the Toy Pirate Fanzine.
Big Star Are Big
I was going through my head thinking of bands with the word ‘big’ in their name and I came up with a load: Big Business, Big Black, Big L, Big Bill Broozny…. Then Big Star popped into my head and I immediately knew what I was gonna write about.
Sorry if you found that New Blockaders thing boring, I had to write that like that cos to me those dudes are incredible and ‘big’ in terms of ‘influential’, ‘seminal’ or ‘important’ and I figured not many of you would have heard of them so I got all the facts down and now you can go explore and shit. Maybe you all have first pressings of Changez Les Blockeurs and I’m just a boring, anal, preachy cock.
I want to write about Big Star cos I have a confession. I love Americana. Big choruses, big melodies, big verses, big themes, life, death, your hometown, your family, your gun, your liquor. This is the music that makes my heart soar. I’ve got to admit it: if I had to choose one record to stay with me forever on a desert Island it wouldn’t be Napalm or Burzum as much as I love those dudes to go mental too. It wouldn’t be Lindstrom or Aphex Twin cos if you’re on your own forever you need something that can speak to you and that’s exactly what Americana/Alt-Country/Whatever you wanna call it does. I’m not from the American South but when the Willard Grant Conspiracy or William Elliot Whitmore sing about it I feel some intangible connection with the words and sounds. I bet if you looked at my I-Pod‘s most played tracks it would be Americana.
Hold on, I just did. It’s Jacksonville Skyline by Ryan Adams. Yup.
Americana is a music that critics latched onto in the early 90’s and grew in media-driven popularity until Adams bust the door down and nowadays your Mum probably listens to her Josh Rouse CD she bought at Tesco with the shopping.
Really though this music has been around far longer than that. It marries that timeless American sensibility and concept of folk with a constantly contemporaneous sound. To me Americana is the Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, the Allman Brothers Band Live At The Fillmore East, every damn record Gram Parsons ever cut, it’s The Replacements singing about beer for breakfast, Uncle Tupelo singing about doing the Graveyard shift, Green On Red singing about gas, food and lodging, it’s punk as fuck and it is embodied most purely in Big Star.
Go listen to them.