Big Star

About Thirteen

"Thirteen" is a song by the American rock band Big Star. Rolling Stone describes it "one of rock's most beautiful celebrations of adolescence", and rated it #406 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. It was written by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell. Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom writes in his Allmusic review of the song, "There are few songs that capture the aching innocence of adolescence as well" and calls it a "perfect melancholy ballad". The song encompasses folk and pop characteristics with its use of simple lyrics and the acoustic guitar. The song was originally featured on the 1972 album #1 Record. It was released as a single by Big Star with “Watch the Sunrise” as the B-Side, on Ardent Records, but was mislabeled as “Don't Lie to Me”. 


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Won't you let me walk you home from school 
Won't you let me meet you at the pool 
Maybe Friday I can 
Get tickets for the dance 
And I'll take you 

Won't you tell your dad, get off my back
Tell him what we said 'bout 'Paint It Black' 
Rock 'n Roll is here to stay 
Come inside where it's okay 
And I'll shake you

Won't you tell me what you're thinking of 
Would you be an outlaw for my love 
If it's so, well, let me know 
If it's no, well, I can go 
I won't make you

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Big Star

Big Star was an American rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971 by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens and Andy Hummel. The group broke up in 1974, but reorganized with a new line-up nearly 20 years later. In its first era, the band's musical style drew on the work of British Invasion groups including The Beatles and The Kinks, as well as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and other US acts. To the resulting power pop, Big Star added dark, nihilistic themes, and produced a style that foreshadowed the alternative rock of the 1980s and 1990s. Before it broke up, Big Star created a "seminal body of work that never stopped inspiring succeeding generations" in the words of Rolling Stone, as the "quintessential American power pop band" and "one of the most myt… more »

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Written by: Alex Chilton, Christopher Bell

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

13 facts about this song

"Thirteen" was released in 1972 by the American rock band Big Star.
The song is a part of their debut show album titled "#1 Record".
The beautiful lyrics and music of "Thirteen" were penned by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, the main members of Big Star.
Public Recognition
Despite having little commercial success initially, the song "Thirteen" was later critically acclaimed and is now considered one of the greatest rock songs of all time.
Song Themes
"Thirteen" is an acoustic ballad that explores themes of adolescence and first love.
Cover Versions
The song has been covered by numerous artists throughout the years, including Elliott Smith, Wilco, and Garbage.
Usage in Popular Culture
Aside from cover versions, "Thirteen" also found its way into popular culture by being used in movies and television shows like "That '70s Show" and "Gilmore Girls".
Rolling Stone Magazine
This song ranked #396 in Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2004.
Music Style
As with many tracks from the "#1 Record", "Thirteen" has a style largely inspired by British Invasion bands like The Beatles but also showcases sounds that would later become synonymous with power pop genre.
Recognition by Pitchfork
Respected music publication Pitchfork named "Thirteen" as the 396th best song of the 1970s.
Nostalgic Lyrics
In the song, the lyrics narrate asking a girl out to a dance, walking her home from school, and sitting outside her house playing her a song, often seen as an homage to early teenage romance.
Hidden Depth
Despite its simple melodic structure, the song has a sense of wistful nostalgia and melancholy beneath its light-hearted lyrical imagery.
Not a Chart Topper
Rather interestingly, despite its recognition today, the song wasn't released as a single and didn't chart when the album was originally released.

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