Monday, September 24, 2012

Best of The Pixies

In honor of Sterogums "Pixies' 10 Best Songs" post, I have my own Pixies story and list of top 10 favs (actually, 11 but that's ok, because that's how high the amp turns up).

I met The Pixies when I became a Nirvana fan as a teenage girl. Doolittle was my first purchase, and I instantly feel in love with "Debaser" and "La La Love You", and still hold those as my favorites. That album is linked to more memories than most, and was monumental in shaping my future music obsessions. 

Doolittle Favorites

Thanks to the magic of making mix tapes for each other all through high school, I discovered "River Euphrates" on a tape that a kid named Dick made me in 10th grade. I remember thinking, "How cool that he picked this song". We were all obsessed with Doolittle. At a high school party with my friends I remember watching Caroline dance to "Tame". She loved the opening line, "Got hips like Cinderella" and would whisper it into the air in this mock-sexy way. We would all laugh and sing along, dancing wildly. Not all memories are so fun and carefree, but that's sort of The Pixies sound too, you know? 


I still hold "Debaser" as my one of my top 10 best Pixies songs. I can't say if it is number one, but it is certainly up there. 

"Wave of Mutilation"

I am a huge fan of remixes and alternate versions in general, so for the sake of my favorite Pixies songs, the "UK" version of "Wave of Mutilation" makes the cut. Pump Up the Volume, anyone?

Come On Pilgrim Favorites

After discovering Doolittle, I started looking for other Pixies albums to own. Like any good LP, Come On Pilgrim quickly found a space in heavy, full rotation during my high school listening days. At that time, I was deep into into the Archers of Loaf and burning a hole in my eardrum every morning to Vs. The Greatest of All Time. The Pixies fit right in.

"I've Been Tired"

"Let's go, let's sit, let's talk, politics go so good with beer." - Black Francis


Like "Debaser", "Caribou" is a really close contender for all time favorite Pixies song. It is haunting, bitter and lamenting, but somehow happy, and almost always makes me horny. That combination is the making of a great song.

Trompe le Monde Favorites

"Alec Eiffel"

Back before those days, when I didn't know The Replacements much outside of Paul Westerberg's place on the Singles soundtrack, and I hadn't discovered the whole Pixies catalog yet, I would sometimes confuse the title "Alex Chilton" with "Alec Eiffel". I know that sounds silly, but it's true. During my freshman year in college, I heard a cover of "Alec Eiffel" and not only understood the vast difference in these two hits, but became a fan of both. Even the shittiest love affairs serve a purpose, and for that, I don't feel too bad for thinking The Get-Up Kids had any talent as they got me to this song being on my top 10 list.      

Surfer Rosa Favorites

As for Surfer Rosa, I'd like to thank Justin Rabuck for ushering my appreciation. I had listened to it, but until we dated (now 10 years ago), I had no idea how it would affect my life. I was 21 when we met, and constantly and completely blown away by the music and literature I became exposed to. I love the entirety of this album, and am forever grateful for Justin because not only did he renew my interest in The Pixies, but he introduced me to his sister Carrie, who also loves Surfer Rosa and is always down to dance and sing loud to "Gigantic".  

Plus, my official favorite Pixies song is on this album. 

"Bone Machine"

The opening song on an album frames the entire listening experience. "Bone Machine"succeeds in both assaulting the listener and gently coxing them into a playground of band comradery and genius sound. That sportsmanship didn't last and The Pixies quit playing together for a long time in the 90s, only emerging for random tours many years later after some successful projects both as solo artists, and as members of other bands like The Breeders.    


Nothing can ever compare to how this song makes me feel. It is barely over 2 minutes long, and if you are listening through crap speakers, you can't really hear Black Francis sing at all. When it starts to wind down to the end, I almost always rewind it to the beginning and listen to it again. Which is silly because the kick into "Tony's Theme" rules. David Bowie covers this song, and it is kind of amazing.   

"Broken Face"

Justin took me to so many shows and we talked about music all the time. He had a job working with at risk youth and often had kids in his car, so they too were exposed to our taste. One kid in particular loved the intro to "Broken Face" and used to make Justin play it over and over as they drove around town. It makes me smirk to imagine that now, but at the time I was still so intimidated by the men in life, I remember feeling embarrassed that a 15 year-old knew more about The Pixies than I did just by having a favorite song on the album. I immediately immersed myself in the dreamy, drum and bass heavy sound of Kim Deal. 


Again, Kim Deal at some of her best. This song is like the best of locker room gossip and lunch table bragging rights. 

 Bossanova Favorites

I don't have a fun introductory love story with Bossanova as somehow that album seeped into my brain and I just knew all the songs without even trying. 

"The Happening"

Bossanova has so many great songs, and favorites like "Stormy Weather", "Is She Weird", and "Velouria" are also up in the list, however, "The Happening" always manages to slip into the top spot alongside "Havalina" as part of the top 10. 


Later on, when Wes Anderson's flick The Royal Tenenbaums came out, I new I had been infiltrated. The scene when Gene Hackman is walking down the stairs and notices that his prized taxidermy boar's head is missing from the stairway, he says curiously, "Where's my Javelina?" As soon as I heard this line I thought of The Pixies and their "Havalina", and have considered it favorite ever since.  

So there you have it, my list of favorites. I have been lucky enough to see all of these favorites live - some even twice. That might not sound like much to my tour following friends who have seen some songs played over 100 times, but for me, I'll take it.