Sister Says

Chris Bell forever secured his cult status by joining together with Alex Chilton to form Big Star, a band that mixed soul, jangle, harmony, and rock muscle.  But Bell didn’t last long in the group — by the time of their 2nd album, Radio City, his contributions were barely discernible, and the band was largely a vehicle for Chilton.  Bell died only a few years later in a car crash.  Before he died, he put out a superb single, “I Am The Cosmos,” a lush, melancholy piece of pop where the singer attempts over and over to lift his own spirits — “Every night I tell myself that I am the cosmos/ I am the wind” — but fails each time when faced with the hard truth: “that don’t get you back again.”  It’s a late-night, weeping-drunk of a song.  But the single’s other side, “You And Your Sister,” may be even more heartbreaking.  I Am The Cosmos, a collection of all Bell’s solo tunes, contains three different versions of “You And Your Sister;” my favorite is the “country version.” It’s mainly just Bell, backing vocals from Chilton, and some guitar, with a touch of strings at the end. The way the harmony hits as Bell sings, “Your sister says that I’m no good,” conveys the perfect mix of desperation and hopelessness.  I couldn’t find the “country version” of the song on Youtube, so you’ll have to settle for another take, the “acoustic version.”


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