Certain Songs #50: Big Star – “September Gurls”


Album: Radio City.

Year: 1974.

While my favorite Big Star album has always been #1 Record (just in case you couldn’t tell), I can’t argue against anybody who prefers the raggedness of Radio City to the more pristine predecessor – or the unprecedented follow-up.  And a lot of that rests on the eternal charms of “September Gurls.”

With the 12-string rhythm guitar ringing ringing ringing ringing in one channel like the fucking 1966 Beatles, and Chilton contrasting the hope of summer with the despair of winter while Stephens and Hummel ooh and ahh at strategic points, what can you even say about this 2:47 of bliss that hasn’t been said before?

That its opening riff is not only sacred and profound, but a promise that is kept by the rest of the song?

That Paul Westerberg stole its “Riff-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Solo-Verse-Chorus-Chorus-Coda” structure for some of his greatest songs, including “Alex Chilton?”

That while the three Big Star songs I’ve previously posted were what initially drew me into them way back in ‘84, but it was instant classic familiarity of “September Gurls” that sealed the deal?

That The Bangles version was pretty great, totally inferior to the original, and the best song on Different Light?  And incredibly important because it was probably the first time that millions of people heard the song?

That when I made any kind of Big Star mixtape at all – for me, for a friend, for the fucking universe – the last song was always “September Gurls?”

Fan-made video for “September Gurls”

My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist:

Every “Certain Song” Ever

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