10 Best Pixies Songs
The alternative ’90s boom owes a big thanks to the Pixies and their songs. The Boston, Mass. rockers, consisting of frontman Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, bassist Kim Deal and drummer David Lovering, were a big influence on bands like Nirvana, and the late Kurt Cobain admitted they owed a huge debt to them. The Pixies disbanded in 1993 after Francis said in an interview that they were no more, unbeknownst to the rest of the members.
After an 11-year absence, the Pixies reconvened in 2003 for a series of secret rehearsals. They officially announced their reunion in February of 2004, and a sold-out world tour followed later that year. Rumors of a new album have circulated for years, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. Diffuser.fm celebrates the alt-rock pioneers’ legacy by counting down the 10 Best Pixies Songs.
‘Dig for Fire’
The Pixies found themselves at an odd place after the success of their album ‘Doolittle.’ Francis had completely taken control of the band’s creative direction and they seemed stuck. However, the quirky pop gem ‘Dig for Fire’ is a standout Pixies song from ‘Bossanova.’ Francis confessed that the track paid homage to the Talking Heads, which is evident by his speaking delivery of the lyrics.
While the Pixies were having an identity crisis with the surf-rock leaning ‘Bossabova’ album, follow-up ‘Trompe Le Monde’ was basically a Black Francis solo record and was their last official release. ‘Alec Eiffel’ saw the band return to their more abrasive sound, incorporating otherworldly keys into the mix. The video depicted them inside a wind tunnel and blows its way into No. 9 on our 10 Best Pixies Songs list.
The Pixies planted the seeds for the rise of alternative rock when they released their debut album, ‘Surfer Rosa,’ in 1988. ‘Gigantic’ is one of the rare Pixies songs that features Kim Deal on lead vocals instead of Black Francis. The track demonstrated what would become the rockers’ trademark “quiet-loud” dynamic. Producer Steve Albini had the track recorded in a bathroom to achieve the echos naturally rather than artificially inside a studio. ‘Gigantic’ is also a prime example of the Pixies’ offbeat humor, as the song is about a married woman falling in love with a well-endowed black teenager.
‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’
The Pixies were talking about the environment and humankind’s impact on the planet long before being green became cool. ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ was about the ocean being destroyed by man, highlighted in the lyrics, “There was a guy / An underwater guy who controlled the sea / Got killed by 10 million pounds of sludge From New York and New Jersey,” which Francis sings about the Greek God of the Sea Poseidon. ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ was the first Pixies song to feature guest musicians: cellists Arthur Fiacco and Ann Rorich, and Karen Karlsrud and Corine Metter on violins.
‘Planet of Sound’
The Pixies song ‘Planet of Sound’ makes our list of the best Pixies songs and is the perfect example of Black Francis’ increasing affinity for sci-fi themes at the time of the release of ‘Trompe le Monde.’ The track was about a Martian’s visit on Earth, with Francis’ vocals altered to sound like an alien (though his voice more closely resembles Merman from the ’80s He-Man cartoon). The Pixies approach ‘Planet of Sound’ with a full audio assault, and it features one of the band’s more intense guitar solos.
While not an official single until six years after the Pixies broke up, ‘Debaser’ is a near three-minute frenzy of Black Francis screaming his head off about the 1929 French silent film ‘Un chien andalou.’ Kim Deal’s bass line at the beginning is like the calm before the storm. Her whisper-like vocals contrast well with Francis during the chorus as they repeat the song title. ‘Debaser,’ which comes in at No. 4 on our 10 Best Pixies Songs list, was released as a single to promote 1997’s ‘Death to the Pixies’ best of album.
‘Wave of Mutilation’
If you’re going to drive your car into a watery plunge, the Pixies song ‘Wave of Mutilation’ is the appropriate soundtrack. The surf rock-tinged track served as a pre-cursor to the the direction their 1990 album ‘Bossanova’ would take. “Cease to resist, giving my goodbye / Drive my car into the ocean / You’ll think I’m dead, but I sail away / On a wave of mutilation,” Black Francis proclaims in the song.
Coming in at No. 3 on our best Pixies songs list is their blistering cover of Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Head On.’ The track is half the length of the original and picks up the pace considerably. By 1991, the Pixies refused to shoot music videos for their singles. At the urging of label Elektra Records, the band agreed to film the video live in a single take. One has to wonder if Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters was channeling his inner-Black Francis on their hit ‘Best of You’ after listening to this.
‘Here Comes Your Man’
Arguably the most accessible and well-known Pixies song lands at No. 2 on our list of the best Pixies songs. ‘Here Comes Your Man’ is an alt-pop masterpiece, with Joey Santiago’s electric guitar and Francis’ acoustic strings blending in perfect harmony. Deal’s subtle vocals are the sweet cherry on top of the track’s Tom Petty-like goodness. The pop-friendly quality is the reason why the Pixies avoided performing the song live at most shows. Francis originally wrote ‘Here Comes Your Man’ as a teen but was embarrassed to include it on any of the band’s albums until producer Gil Norton insisted that it should be featured on ‘Doolittle.’
‘Where Is My Mind’
The Pixies’ 1988 debut, ‘Surfer Rosa,’ is a polarizing experience when listening from beginning to end. On one hand, you have harder-edge tracks like ‘Something Against You’ and ‘Vamos,’ and on the other is the methodically paced ‘Where Is My Mind.’ Many will recognize the song at the end of the Brad Pitt movie ‘Fight Club.’ Kim Deal’s haunting wails in the background can give you goosebumps in an instant. ‘Where Is My Mind’ is just as enjoyable to listen to now as it was over 20 years ago, and tops our list of the 10 Best Pixies Songs.