I have created another blog to give updates on my writing efforts. You can find it here.

September 30, 2005

Rock me, Joseph Alberto Santiago

I've been on a tremendous Pixies kick the last couple of weeks. I've passed several delightful hours inside Bossanova and Trompe le Monde in particular, but have spent plenty of time careering back and forth across the entirety of their oeuvre with impunity as well. If you put all their records together you don't even get five hours of music total but, with the exception of brief excursions into Radiohead, I've listened to nothing else over the last two weeks; I must have listened to each record at least four of five times in whole, plus just putting the player on shuffle more than once and letting it percolate for a while. It's music that just fascinates me to no end.

They play within so many different styles, from roaring punk-thrash-whatever ("Tame") to shimmering pop ("Havalina") to surf rock ("Cecilia Ann"). It's a melange that I don't think anyone else this side of Nirvana has managed to duplicate with as much panache. Another similarity to Nirvana lies in the tortured voice of Black Francis. Like Cobain, he ranges from tender sweetness to manic incoherency. What is Frank saying, exactly? Even with a lyric sheet in front of me, I can't really understand that one line in "Wave of Mutilation"--it sounds like "I've kissed mermaids, plucked me an emu." According to the lyrics I looked at on the Internet (which, come on, it's the Internet), the end of that line is "rode the El NiƱo". OK. If you say so. At least the rest of the song is--can I use the word "legible" to refer to the spoken word? You know what I mean. Still, either way that's more than you can say for "Territorial Pissings" so Pixies get the nod over Nirvana in that particular instance.

It's fun listening to Kim Deal sing, too. She sounds like she's ten years old. That's what makes "Cannonball" such a fun song (yes, I know it's by the Breeders. Hush). I think my favorite part of the Pixies' music, though, is the drumming. It's just so simple and unobtrusive; it's like if Charlie Watts played in a punk band. I'm an unrepentant air drummer, so I really get into it. I was sitting at my desk yesterday tapping away to "Trompe le Monde" when a co-worker happened by and grinned and gave me some good-natured snark. I just nodded, then kept on doing my thing. I'm willing to suffer for my art.

I first learned about the Pixies in college when I was hosting a show (such as it was) on WMRE (such as it was). Trompe le Monde was a recent release and in the Heavy Rotation bin. I used to love playing "Letter To Memphis" or "Subbacultcha" or "U-Mass" (hoping in the latter case that Frank's incoherence would render the explicit anatomical references murky enough to keep me from getting fired. Then again, considering the state of WMRE's management and listenership in those days, you'd have had to do a lot worse than playing a song like "U-Mass" to have anyone notice it and get fired for it. That's a whole 'nother story, though. I might have to see if I can get Ben to tag-team with me on some WMRE musings sometime. Remind us to tell you about Allen Ginsberg and Mr. Bungle). As a result, Trompe le Monde has always been my favorite Pixies record. Years later, my brother made me a three tape Pixies/Breeders/Frank Black manastrocophy, and I was fully exposed to the rest of their catalog at last. In the last few months I've managed to collect the Pixies library (except for the two "best of" compilations) on mp3, which has been feeding my occasional jones since.

I haven't tried introducing my daughter to the Pixies yet. Her tastes run more towards anything with a dance beat, rather than straight-up rock and roll. Techno, bubblegum pop, even '60's soul--if you can wiggle to it, she's diggin' it (as an aside, you should hear her say "Soulfinger"--I can't even spell it the way she says it. "Sodafeegah" comes close, I guess). The Pixies would probably be a little raucous for her at this stage. She's not even five yet, though. There'll be plenty of time to educate her on the finer things in life as she gets older.

That's it for now. I may take the time at a later date to expound on other of my musical obsessions. Iron Maiden, Seventy Sevens, and--most bizarrely, perhaps--marching bands come immediately to mind as future topics. I might have to post more about air drumming, too. Some good stories there. For now, though, I will continue my journey into autumn with the Pixies and leave you with the (mostly coherent) words of Black Francis.

Cease to resist
Giving my goodbye
Drive my car into the ocean
You think I'm dead
But I sail away
On a wave of mutilation

No comments: