Remember those four guys from your hometown, the ones who decided to bypass college and form a rock n roll band instead? Remember how everybody used to poke fun at them because they were passive, easy targets; because their divergent interests rendered them a minority? Remember how you secretly admired those guys, specifically because they were the only four people you knew who were capable of designing something that existed outside the pre-intentional curriculum? Remember how those four guys continued at it several years after the fact, how they outlasted and outplayed all the bullshit three-chord cover bands? How they eventually moved their act into the city?
You remember all that, right? Good. Because the simple fact is, if you remember who those four guys from your hometown were, then you probably remember who the four original members of Big Star were, as well.
Forget about the fact that Big Star’s original line-up was uncharacteristically talented, that the band made better music than 97% of the established acts out there, that all three of the band’s LPs have since been included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time, that two of its singles were included on that magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time. Forget about the fact that famed photographer William Eggleston provided the cover art for Big Star’s second album, that said photograph is currently on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Forget about the fact that Big Star wrote and recorded what would eventually become the theme song for That 70s Show, that the band wrote the opening for “Feel” two decades before Jesus Jones recycled that shit as the signature riff for their No. 2 hit “Right Here, Right Now“.
Forget about all of that stuff, because when you get right down to it, the story of Big Star is the story of every small-town rock band that ever dreamed about making it big along their own terms. Theirs is a familiar struggle, and Nothing Can Hurt Me does a pretty decent job of recounting all the various highs and lows. This film provides fascinating insights and commentary about Big Star’s largely unsung run, as well as the tragic-yet-enduring legacies of both Chris Bell and Alex Chilton. It’s highly recommended viewing for veteran fans and new initiates alike, along with anyone who happens to remember those four guys from their hometown.
(Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me arrives via iTunes and Video OnDemand, along with a limited engagement at the IFC Center in New York City, on Wednesday, July 3rd.)