“Thirteen” – Big Star

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A sweet acoustic ballad that beautifully conveys the experience of love when you’re in middle school, you don’t have a license to drive, and your big social events with your significant other are walking each other home from school and going to the middle school dance. I don’t know how much of that has survived in these increasingly jaded times, but I feel sorry for anyone who leapfrogs over a stage like this.

This is an alternate version of the song that wound up on Big Star’s “#1 Record.” There’s some very nice and (I’m sure) extremely rare footage of Big Star in this clip. I know “Radio City” is the critic’s favorite in Big Star’s oeuvre, but I have to say I love “#1 Record” more. The song was recently heard on “That 70s Show” when it underscored the romance between Eric and Jackie.

“I Am the Cosmos” – This Mortal Coil

One of the things I love discovering music-wise are unique and cool covers of great songs.  Today’s model:  a cover of Chris Bell’s mopey, but brilliant mid-1970s pre-emo classic “I Am the Cosmos” by the 4AD masters of mope (not meant to be an insult, by the way), This Mortal Coil.   I never thought I’d say this about This Mortal Coil, but this kind of rocks a little.  Not so much you’d put a lighter and fist in the air, but it’s a bit peppier than “Song to the Siren” or “Holocaust.”  And I really like the double-tracked vocals that reminded me of Grand Funk Railroad’s cover of “Locomotion.”  (Yes, I know, I’m making this sound dreadful, but trust me, it’s really very very cool).  It’s better than Scarlett Johannson’s decent, but pedestrian Fiona Apple-esque take with Pete Yorn.   Color me impressed.