Big Time

Album: Big Time (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • In April 2021, Angel Olsen came out as gay to her fans when she introduced her Instagram followers to her partner, Beau Thibodeaux. This woozy, waltzing love song is about her romance with Thibodeaux, a writer who has worked on the HBO series High Maintenance.
  • In "Big Time," Olsen describes the magic of finding a new love, including how their relationship started.

    Take to the lake, playing Lady in Red
    Hanging onto every word that you said


    Olsen and Thibodeaux's romance began after a magic day on a lake. They went out in a canoe, and she played "Lady In Red" to Thibodeaux because they (the writer uses "they" pronouns) were wearing red. "I was like, 'I know you don't identify as a lady, and we hate that word, but I love this song, and in this moment right now it's really special for me,'" Olsen recalled to Pitchfork. "And they just laughed and got a kick out of it. I think they were just like, whoa, this chick is crazy."

    "Then we went on a long walk," Olsen continued. "We talked all day, and then eventually, they were like, 'We haven't even hugged yet.'" And so we got up and stood on this hill and hugged and it was insane. I felt so high. We hugged before we kissed. We had that feeling first."
  • Olsen first came out as queer to friends, then to her parents. Not long after, her father passed away, and her mother died a fortnight later. Thibodeaux was there for the singer when she lost her mom. "It's scary to share that with a partner, because you never know what will happen, but I'll never forget that they were the one that was there for me," Olsen told The Guardian. "Because you never know what will happen, but I'll never forget that they were the one that was there for me."
  • Beau Thibodeaux helped Olsen write the song. Olsen had just buried her mother, and she went to New York with Thibodeaux for their birthday. "I kept feeling like they wanted to move back there," she told Pitchfork. "I got so freaked out by the idea of being left behind during this time when I needed them. I couldn't write. I was really upset."

    Thibodeaux suggested they write something about how they met. Olsen was initially reluctant, but as her partner writes screenplays and stories, she came around to doing it as a fun exercise. "It was really special to share that with them, and scary to bring them into my life in that way," she said. "But my love for them was so big that I couldn't help wanting to share that with them."
  • The song is the title track of Olsen's sixth album, a record she wrote while experiencing her first queer romances and heartbreaks. "The reason why I wanted to call it Big Time was because I felt like after all that happened, I was never the same," Olsen told Mojo magazine. "I like it when a title can mean a lot of different things."
  • Kimberly Stuckwisch directed a 28-minute visual counterpart that makes a statement about the fluidity of gender identity. "'For 'Big Time,' we set out to celebrate how humans identify and to subvert the old-fashioned gender binary and societal/internalized gender roles of the past through choreography, color, and wardrobe," said the director. "To exist outside strict definitions is powerful and often not given a place in cinema."

    Over 80% of the cast and 50% of the crew identified as non-binary and non-gender conforming.
  • The song marked a new turn toward country in Olsen's music. The singer and country singer Sturgill Simpson are longtime admirers of each other's work and first connected after the release of Olsen's 2016 album My Woman. On September 13, 2022, they released a duet version of "Big Time".

    "It's crazy to write a song and then watch someone else you really admire sing your words; kinda turns the whole thing on its head," said Olsen. "I loved the song already, but hearing Sturgill's take on 'Big Time' made me smile ear to ear, he made it come alive on a different level."

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