“Your Sister Says That I’m No Good/I’d Reassure Her If I Could”

“You and Your Sister” is, in the strangest of ways, a disco song for me.

I mean, obviously, it’s not; it’s hardly danceable, and there’s nothing as insistent about it as the best (or even the worst) disco. You could hardly call it a dancefloor filler, although you could probably imagine it clearing a dancefloor if given the chance. But what I mean by comparing it to disco is it’s a song which sounds perfect, even if its lyrically banal at best.

The opening to the song is a perfect example of its clumsiness: “They say my love for you ain’t real/But they don’t know how real it feels.” That’s just… horrible. Similarly, “All I want to do/Is to spend some time with you/So I can hold you” may have an innocent honesty to it, but it’s bordering on twee if not fully in that area already. Chris Bell may have written some great stuff for Big Star’s first album, but the lyrics of “You and Your Sister” needed a second pass.

Despite that, though… Just listen to the song. The way that Alex Chilton’s vocals come in 0:48, grounding Bell’s voice in a strange way that strengthens it without swamping it (Chilton’s “Plans fail every day/I want to hear you say” at 1:23 is just lovely, too). Not that Bell’s vocal isn’t a thing of greatness on its own – The way his voice cracks on “time” at 0:34 gets me every single time I listen.

The arrangement, which goes from just the finger-picked acoustic guitar to the addition of a gorgeous string counter-melody by the end of the song (The strings falling as the guitar rises, which is such a simple but graceful move), is also worth paying attention to. By the end of the song, when you have the strings playing against the guitar and Chilton and Bell’s vocals crossing over each other, it just seems utterly perfect. As long as you don’t try to pay attention to the lyrics.