I’m trying to make my way through the living room without stepping on any old pizza boxes, bird poop, or various forms of music (mostly cassettes and CD’s–records are treated like bricks of gold in this house).I’m alone, and I had just gotten up from the couch when I start hearing the opening bass line that couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than Kim Deal’s catchy opening to “Gigantic,” a song that, up until that moment, was never that exciting to me.
The bass solo makes the candy wrappers on the floor vibrate. As I wondered if the band playing in the basement was just warming up, or if they really were starting off their set with a Pixies song, I hear a faint “ah AH!” (ala Black Francis) squeak out from the basement.
I look out the front window and I know right away that everyone on the porch hears it too, and are just as excited as I am. Everyone rushes into the dumpy rental house and makes their way to the basement where the show is happening. I’m the first down the stairs, and I stand in a spot right in front of the action.
The band is P.S. Eliot, who I loved even before I heard them play because I’ve always resonated too closely with fictional characters like J. Alfred Prufrock. By the time Paul was introduced in the song, I already knew what band I was going to blast the loudest from my speakers that summer.
I had already been a big Kim Deal fan before that day, but I always disliked The Pixies because they seemed too big within the punk community. I refused to listen to something so “mainstream.” I know, it was very stupid of me.
Oddly enough, I loved The Breeders, but I defended this among my friends by telling them that I knew and embraced that they were an MTV band. I feel pity for one boyfriend in particular, when I first discovered the album Last Splash by The Breeders, because we would lay on my bed, kissing or just talking, and i’d have “No Aloha” on repeat because I just couldn’t understand the dynamics of the song. I wanted to figure out what made the song so catchy. This was more important to me than kissing. Luckily one of the dynamics of that relationship was our love of discussing the poetry of songs, so he let this go on a bit longer than any other boyfriend would.
Getting mixtapes from people I didn’t know very well was exciting to me, because it was a way of really getting to know the inside of that person before knowing the outside. A dude wearing a leather studded jacket could make a mix with a quarter of the tracklist being Joe Cocker songs could really tell me about the soul of a person. I liked that I got little glimpses that the lay person may not know. Having the Pixies on your mix meant you were cool. You knew what’s up. In fact, when my friend was going to have a guy over to her house (her future husband), she called me in a panic, not knowing what music she should play in the background when he steps into the apartment for the first time (I love that I have friends who call me with these sort of problems). The answer was simple: “Put on the Pixies.” I said. She called me the next day and told me that she couldn’t call me that night because he had stayed over! She said “the first thing he said as he opened the door was ‘Is this the Pixies?'” They got married two years later, and I can’t help but think that my suggestion was what really cemented things between them.
So when I got a mix from my friend John (who at the time I was just getting to know), the Pixies song really impressed me. It was “Gouge Away,” and I was hooked immediately. It was the “Oooooooooo’s” I was first impressed with. This is a sex song. I must admit, though, that not knowing the lyrics made me think the song was way more sexy than it actually was. “Sleeping on your bed, you break my arm, you spoon my eyes…” and “chained to the pillows…” This was totally a sex song! These were fetishes I didn’t really want to know about, but I knew they must be sexy to someone!Do people really gouge each others eyes as foreplay? I was embarrassed for myself after I read the lyrics for the first time.
So now i’m slowing gaining more and more Pixies songs into my “like” category. The Pixies are kind of like Sonic Youth in that sense–you can’t just listen to an album without being prepared for what you’re getting yourself into. Especially if you’re used to listening to regular verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus songs that don’t have two minutes of noise in between each section.