The Big Star Story Comes Home in ‘Nothing Can Hurt Me’
They never had a hit record, nor filled arenas, but Big Star was the sort of band that inspired a deep-seated devotion in those who were lucky enough to discover their music. It's with that love and devotion that Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me was made.
The documentary chronicling the band's tragic story was released on DVD and Blu-ray Nov. 26, containing the acclaimed film as well as bonus features on singer-songwriters Chris Bell and Alex Chilton; the band's studio sessions and the film's trailer. The film tells the story of the band's formation in Memphis, breakup, lineup changes, and release of their original three albums under the Big Star banner. It also covers the band's reformation along with testimonials from members of Cheap Trick, the Flaming Lips, R.E.M., the Replacements, the dB's, Robyn Hitchcock, and more.
Count Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, the band's last surviving original member, among those who impressed with the documentary. "I love the film," he says. "I think they did a wonderful job. The biggest impression that it made on me is the tenacity of the film crew and the care they took in doing it. [Producer] Danielle McCarthy started the journey six or seven years ago and she had the tenacity to get it right."
According to the film's writer/director Drew DeNicola, McCarthy fortuitously began shooting footage for the film even before he had signed on to direct. She was behind the camera for the interviews with late legendary producer Jim Dickinson, who died in 2009, while the film was still in production. "Thank God she did get that, because he's an amazing narrator," DeNicola says. "He knew how to frame this just right." Before the film wrapped, Chilton and then bassist Andy Hummel died in 2010, of a heart attack and cancer, respectively.
It was while working as a college radio DJ at Tulane University in New Orleans that DeNicola discovered the band. It was the early '90s, and Rykodisc had recently reissued some of the band's catalog on CD. He was drawn to Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers, housed in the label's trademark emerald green-tinted jewel boxes. "The Third record was really my entryway," he says. "The first two records were a little to straightforward for me when I was a freshman in college, but I just needed more, so I listened to the other two records as well."