Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gender benders

It´s hard to pick your favourite Big Star song, but I guess for me it´s Thirteen, the ideal mix between folkrock and powerpop. "Won´t you tell your dad get off my back, tell him what we said ´bout Paint It Black..." Alex Chilton and co recorded it for their debut album #1 Record way back in ´72, but it still sounds as fresh as today´s headlines. It´s obvious that the teenage subject is only thirteen years of age, but I´ve often wondered how old the Romeo singing it must be... A teenager, or just some dirty old man? I could never really figure it out, so you choose.

Magnapop, from Athens, Georgia, did a great cover of this gem on their selftitled ´91 debut. Notice how the guitars kick in big time after 20 seconds or so, which makes this loving version quite different from Big Star´s all acoustic approach. The female vocals by Linda Hopper give the lyrics an extra twist: now it´s a girl of undefined age longing for a 13 year old boy... Nice gender bender. "Would you be an outlaw for my love?"

And speaking of gender benders: you can´t go wrong with the Raincoats covering Lola by the Kinks. The original already raises some serious gender issues, but to add to the confusion the all-girl Raincoats don´t even think of changing Ray Davies´ original he-form. "She picked me up and set me on her knee, and said little boy won´t you come home with me." Priceless.

Big Star - Thirteen MP3
Magnapop - 13 MP3
The Raincoats - Lola MP3

1 comment:

Paul said...

Great post! As much as I love Big Star, I have no problem picking Thirteen as my favorite. It's an amazing tune. One of my top 5 songs of all time.

Magnapop's cover is one of the better ones, imho, but I think Thirteen is an impossible to improve upon.

Like the Lola cover too...

(Also, I definitely think the singer is a unsure kid, himself, but I never tried hearing it any other way. Interesting take.)