I've been down the path of writing this piece about the Big Star "Nothing Can Hurt Me" soundtrack multiple times already. It has gone from thoughtful reflection to academic evaluation, from humble acknowledgement to "I-wonder-what's-on-TV?" blues.
What's my problem?
This record slaps me in the face with my own fallibility. It's another incredible release from Omnivore Recordings: exquisitely curated, magnificently mixed, mastered and pressed and worth every Record Store Day cent I spent on it. AND it fulfills its intended goal... it makes me excited and anxious to see the Big Star Documentary being released in early July.
So again, what's my problem?
It reminds me of how I missed all of this glorious music the first time through. And that fills me with regret for every inconsequential purchase, every wasted listening selection, I've made along the way.
Note to teenage self: Add up all the time spent buying, listening and/or discussing Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Jethro Tull, and trade it for a single listen of Big Star's #1 Record or Radio City, you won't be disappointed.
That's not to say the previously listed bands didn't have their musical high points, I mean I still like the Yes Album and, uh, the Yes Album is pretty damn good. Oh and those first two Tull albums, when they were a blues band, those were neat. And Emers... Yes Album.
And I clearly remember Bass Player Bob saying, "I got this Big Star album, we should learn some of these songs, they're great, they're..." whatever. But I was too hung up on Aerosmith or the 1910 Fruit Gum Company or whatever bullshit was streaming around in my brain, to pay attention to him or "When My Baby's Beside Me" or "The Ballad of El Goodo." And now here they are on this soundtrack and they sound magnificent, and Alex Chilton is long gone and I can just suck it. I just love love love this stuff and those days are way down the road behind me. It makes me gnash my teeth with musical angst. Chilton sounds magnificent. The entire band does. And yeah, I loved "Cry Like A Baby" and "The Letter" and I eventually picked up High Priest/ Feudalist Tarts.
but that's no excuse for senselessness. Even if it was a youthful oversight.
It's hard to see your music hip-titude tossed out the window like a half smoked Gauloise but mine is, every time I spin "Thirteen" or side two or "September Gurls" or whatever, on this record. I might as well purchase a deluxe membership in the Bieber Fan Club. Or well up with big ol' sad puppy tears when Jennifer Lopez puts out more "music." Or Bicklenack. My level of self disgust seems to know no bounds but I continue to taunt myself with this record.
This is exceptional music in the sense that songs matter, that music can lift you, transport you, change your life for three minutes at a time. Alter your consciousness in a way that's missing in 2013. But, then again, I'm not a child of 2013, I'm a kid from the heyday of rock music.
On the radio. On the stereo. At concerts.
When magic bands seemed to appear out of nowhere and I soaked them up like a sponge and unknowingly drizzled the excess on my friends like an unexpected downpour. But when given the opportunity to tune in to a really great band, I chose... nonsense. I walked away from a magic band.
I've listened to Nothing Can Hurt Me on both my turntable and MP3s playing through my Mac (download card YES!). It sounds marvelous on each, but I know it's an awesome vinyl release if I spin it more than a couple of times in a row from the start. There's that whole get up and flip experience that provides definitive proof. And when my other half ducks into the room and says, "what's this?" with a smile on her face, well, that's all needs to be said. And when she flips it over when the side's done. Magic.
So here I am with this record. I've been playing it almost every day since I bought it. And the funny thing is, I don't think I'm just trying to make up for lost time, I think I'm just lucky. I'm lucky enough to have it in my mitts here in 2013. Can a band be magic twice? Yeah, I think so. Big Star's a band with the songs to prove it. Nothing Can Hurt Me is an excellent place to start. And I don't even care what's on TV.
The Nothing Can Hurt Me Original Soundtrack will be released to the public on June 25th and can be preordered on the Ominvore Recordings site.
Kevin Poore is a writer, director and musician permanently rooted in Southern California. He hosts the long running music show "Nights At The Sound Table", is currently filming a documentary "Long Playing", and loves the music of Raymond Scott. You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.