My Top 1000 Songs #346: I Am The Cosmos

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

When Big Star co-founder and production genius Chris Bell tragically died in 1978, he left behind an album of solo recordings which wouldn't see the light of day until a posthumous 1992 release. By that point, I was deep into the Big Star cult, and remember grabbing I Am The Cosmos the day it showed up at my local Tower Records (the greatly missed Palo Alto, CA outpost). It felt instantly familiar, the warmth of Bell's soulful blend of power pop and singer-songwriter earnestness (particularly the ballads) feeling like something I'd been listening to all my life. That was particularly acute on the title track (and one other, which I'll be getting to elsewhere on the list).

Like many of Bell's songs, there's a sadness there, a sense of loss, though whether he's lamenting a lost love, or something more like lost faith, is hard to say. "Every night I tell myself that I am the cosmos. I am the wind. But that don't get you back again." It's a beautiful, haunting number. As a Big Star fan, it's hard to hear it and not imagine what might have been--if Bell had stuck around for a second Big Star album; if he'd lived long enough to see the release of his solo work and maybe been inspired to keep going. 

Or you can just hear it as a heartbreaking yet spiritually rich song on its own merits.

The Chilton/Stephens + Posies reunited Big Star taking it for a spin in 1994:

Beck, solo live performance, 2021:

This Mortal Coil cover:
Mo Troper cover: