Documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

In this '70’s Playlist thread:

I mention Big Star, folks add their love for the band, and Gordon Urquhart shared:

I saw the documentary - thanks GU! - and thought it deserved its own thread. This is a great documentary for anyone interested in Big Star. They don’t play a lot of tracks long enough to get a full sense of the song, so if you are new to Big Star, you should listen to at least their first 2 albums prior to seeing - the best homework ever!

Observation: There is NO footage of Chris Bell - no video of him speaking, let along performing. In today’s surveillance society, this lack of record is mindboggling for someone who recorded and was actively trying to get attention. The doc makers had access to his family and a lot of other clips, so I don’t think there was material they were barred from using. I already have I Am the Cosmos and love it, along with some old live Big Star. Such good music.

I haven’t read the recent bio of Alex Chilton that came out, so i didn’t know his background. The film does a really good job filling out who he is and how he lived with his Big Star legacy and produced other great music.

Worth checking out.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie…after having heard a live Alex Chilton recording from late in his career, I had wondered how he gone from point A to B; it makes more sense now.

Memphis is that much more interesting, music-wise, than I had already thought.

I, too, already have I Am The Cosmos, and recommend it to anyone who likes the first two Big Star albums…have to pull it off the shelf now and revisit.

Doubtful I’ll be buying any Tav Falco/Panther Burns records anytime in the near future, but that was a funny comment by the morning show host they appeared on in that one clip.

The most fascinating tidbit for me was the weird utter failure of the first album in commercial terms ( artistically of course it is a triumph ). It was such a bizarre confluence of random bad luck. I suppose one could argue it was ahead of its time, but I’d argue it is more timeless. It sounds undeniably commercial-radio friendly to me. it should have had some success in the 1970’s even if it wasn’t a monster hit. Fewer than 10,000 copies is just unfathomable.

Poor Chris Bell.

I don’t have netflix and don’t plan to subscribe, but I got the Blue-Ray on my wishlist for Christmas. And yes, I Am The Cosmos is as good as anything by Big Star, an album with a weird recording and release history, like so much in the Big Star, well, cosmos. The CD copy I have comes with a great extended essay. It’s really great to see that so many of the music folks here on the Dope share their love for the band, real quality succeeds in the end.

I wasn’t familiar with Big Star’s music, although I’ve certainly heard of them, and I have watched this movie.

Wasn’t Chris Bell’s death quite likely a suicide, and his bandmates now believe he was gay? I seem to remember a lot of discussion about that.

I’ve seen the same discussions, but have no clue whether they are credible claims.

You should really listen to the music! The glimpses they provide in the documentary don’t do it justice.

Yeah, I watched the documentary the same day that I got the recommendation in that thread, and there was definitely some hinting towards Chris Bell wrestling with issues of his sexual identity in at least one of the interviews (I’d have to go back to see which one it was), but nothing was explicitly stated.

I didn’t know anything about Big Star’s background besides the music and the fact that Chris Bell and Alex Chilton (or is it Axel Chitlin :wink: ) had a falling out between the first two albums, so this was a very interesting documentary for me, and very heartfelt (I found myself tearing up a couple of times). I saw some of the reviews say that it was a bit plodding and ponderous for the first two-thirds, but I didn’t find it so. I was throughly engaged the entire way. It was a shame they seemed to catch so many bad breaks and what seems like label indifference or mismanagement, when they should easily have been a hit band nationwide.

And I had no idea who Panther Burns were before this. That morning show performance was classic. Here’s the whole clip on YouTube. I looked up some of their other music since, and they actually have some pretty decent stuff, and I enjoyed their punky attitude, especially in that clip. :slight_smile:

I know - their story is stunning given the sheer listenability of the music. Getting caught up in In the Back of Car is so easy. All of it. Sigh.

Them and Badfinger. Just awful that these bands didn’t see so much bigger success.

Too late to edit:

Nice history and record review of Rhino’s Big Star reissue on NPR’s Fresh Air - about 7 minutes long…