Thirteen (song)

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For the Anthrax song, see State of Euphoria. For the Danzig song, see 6:66 Satan's Child.
Song by Big Star from the album #1 Record
Released April 1972 (1972-04)
  • Late 1971
  • Ardent Studios, Memphis
Length 2:34
Label Ardent
Producer(s) John Fry
ISWC T-072.018.532-9
#1 Record track listing
"In the Street"
"Don't Lie to Me"

"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.[1] 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".[2] The song encompasses folk and pop characteristics with its use of simple lyrics and the acoustic guitar.[2][3]

The song was originally featured on the 1972 album #1 Record. It was never released as a single by Big Star.


"Thirteen" has been covered by several notable musicians. They include:

Artist Album
Evan Dando Live at the Brattle Theatre
Deus Sister Dew
Garbage Version 2.0 (Japanese edition), "Push It" single
Albert Hammond Jr. Cool For School: For the Benefit of The Lunchbox Fund
Happy Flowers Lasterday I Was Been Bad
Håkan Hellström Nåt gammalt, nåt nytt, nåt lånat, nåt blått
Kind of Like Spitting The Thrill of the Hunt
Mary Lou Lord Live City Sounds
Magnapop Magnapop
Rose Melberg September
Elliott Smith New Moon
Wilco Big Star, Small World
Kathryn Williams Relations

When asked if there was a Big Star cover he was especially fond of, lead singer Alex Chilton mentioned Garbage's version of this song.[4]

Use in popular media[edit]

  • the big star version was used in the HBO series "Vinyl"
  • The Elliott Smith cover of the song was used in the film Thumbsucker, and appears on its soundtrack.
  • Big Star's original was used in How I Met Your Mother episode "Ten Sessions," during a "two-minute date" with Josh Radnor's character and a time-strapped dermatologist, played by Sarah Chalke.
  • The song appeared several times on That '70s Show, in such episodes as "The Seeker" and "That '70s Finale", serving as a theme for the two main characters, Eric Forman and Donna Pinciotti who spend most of the series romantically involved.
  • The song appeared on the Gilmore Girls episode "Rory's Dance" (Season 1, Episode 9).
  • The fourth album of the Scottish band Teenage Fanclub, highly influenced by Big Star, is also named Thirteen.[5]
  • Davis Rogan, a friend of Alex Chilton, covers the song on his album "The Real Davis"


  1. ^ "Thirteen: Big Star". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  2. ^ a b Janovitz, Bill. "Thirteen - Big Star". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  3. ^ Roni Sarig (1998). The Secret History of Rock: The Most Influential Bands You've Never Heard. Billboard Books. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-8230-7669-7. 
  4. ^ "Alex Chilton Set to Go". Rolling Stone. February 28, 2000. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  5. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Thirteen > Overview )))". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 

External links[edit]