I Am the Cosmos

Chris Bell

Song Review by Mark Deming

While conventional wisdom has long had it that Alex Chilton was the great mind behind Big Star, the A-side to Chris Bell's first and only solo single (and the title cut to the posthumous album that would follow many years later) makes clear just how much he had to do with shaping the sound of the group's first album, Number One Record. "I Am the Cosmos" is sonically expansive and emotionally fervent widescreen pop which takes the style of Number One Record's grander cuts (such as "Feel" and "My Life Is Right") and elevates it to a whole new level. From the processed vocals at the outset, pleading, "Every night I tell myself, I am the cosmos/I am the wind/But that don't get you back again," Bell's performance is a desperate plea of Baroque, neo-psychedelic longing, and the song ranks alongside the hits of Phil Spector or Roy Orbison as an expression of love as both beauty and emotional agony. The Posies' reverent cover version, released as a single in 1991, captured much of the same beauty that Bell put into the song, and it's probably no coincidence that the following year Alex Chilton invited two members of the group to sit in for Bell during Big Star's brief reunion jaunt.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
I Am the Cosmos 1992 Ryko Distribution / Rykodisc 3:46
D.I.Y.: Come Out and Play: American Power Pop I (1975-78) 1993
Various Artists
Rhino 3:39
Keep an Eye on the Sky 2009 Rhino 3:43
Nothing Can Hurt Me 2013 Omnivore 3:56