Thirteen (song)

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Song by Big Star
from the album #1 Record
ReleasedMarch 1972 (1972-03)
RecordedLate 1971
StudioArdent, Memphis
Producer(s)John Fry

"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 #396 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.[4] 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".[5] The song encompasses folk and pop characteristics with its use of simple lyrics and the acoustic guitar.[5][1]

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”.

"Thirteen" was featured in the season 6 and season 8 finale of That '70s Show. The song was covered by Grace VanderWaal and Graham Verchere in the 2020 movie Stargirl on Disney+ with a Grace Vanderwaal only performance appearing as a bonus on the soundtrack.


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

Artist Album
Bedouine, Waxahatchee, Hurray for the Riff Raff Thirteen (single)
Beach Slang Quiet Slang
Evan Dando Live at the Brattle Theatre
Daryll-Ann Stay single (B side)
Deus Sister Dew
Epic Soundtracks Change My Life
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
Katell Keineg At The Mermaid Parade
Kind of Like Spitting The Thrill of the Hunt
Mary Lou Lord Live City Sounds
Magnapop Magnapop
Rose Melberg September
The Menzingers Covers EP
Obadiah Parker The Tip Jar
Elliott Smith New Moon
Wilco Big Star, Small World
Kathryn Williams Relations
Textor & Renz The Days of Never Coming Back and Never Getting Nowhere
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Spotify Singles (Recorded At Spotify Studios at NYC)
Joshua Radin 10 Years of Mom+Pop (Label Compilation)
Jesse Malin Meet me at the end of the world
Lemon Sparks Lemon Sparks (album)
Grace VanderWaal Stargirl Soundtrack

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.[6]


  1. ^ a b Sarig, Roni (1998). The Secret History of Rock: The Most Influential Bands You've Never Heard. Billboard Books. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-8230-7669-7.
  2. ^ McMillan, Graeme (May 2, 2013). "Big Star: The Ultimate American Pop Band". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  3. ^ Molanphy, Chris (June 29, 2018). "The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part 1". Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia (Podcast). Slate. Retrieved July 30, 2023.
  4. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time — Thirteen: Big Star". Rolling Stone. April 7, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Janovitz, Bill. "Thirteen - Big Star". AllMusic. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  6. ^ Luerssen, John D. (February 28, 2000). "Alex Chilton Set to Go". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 26, 2009.