This was, as predicted, a very fun week of listening. I may have overdone it on Saturday, though. I was able to make my way through the entire discography through the week, but then I doubled up on Saturday while writing, and I actually got a little sick of listening to Pixies. I didn’t listen to them for the rest of the day, so now, listening to them as I write this, I seem to have recovered and am enjoying it again.
There’s an arrogant part of me that wants to spin some narrative that I’ve listened to the Pixies forever, and that I was musically ahead of my times in that. I absolutely want to try and pull off the “listened to them before they were cool” idea with the Pixies, but I can’t. It would be a lie. As it stands, I listened to The Breeders before I listened to the Pixies. This caused a little confusion when I first heard of the Pixies. The Breeders, led by Kim Deal, were a mostly girl group. Because of this, when I heard that the Pixies were her original band, I expected another girl group (or grrrl group as they were stylized in the Nineties). I mean, can you blame me. Kim Deal is a girl, and a name like Pixies does not typically invoke images of a bunch of guys. This was before things were named ironically for the sake of naming things ironically. As a result, I was taken aback when I heard Wave of Mutalation on the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack. It took a couple of listens for me to appreciate it. I eventually did, but the Pixies were long broken up by the time I did. So for years I nibbled around the edges of Pixies fandom before finally succumbing to it. I really didn’t start listening in earnest until more than ten years after they broke up. To be honest, it wasn’t until the one-off single Bam Thwok that I rekindled my interest and starting tracking down Pixies albums. Heather was a little ahead of me in this respect, having picked up the Death to the Pixies greatest hits album a couple of years before that.
The problem with listening to the Pixies was the same problem I have with Led Zeppelin. I had fallen in love with so many bands that were influenced by them and taken their ideas a step further, I found it hard to go back and listen to the origins. It’s the same reason prequels aren’t as popular as sequels. No one wants to go backwards. I mean, it’s interesting to see where some of the ideas came from, but most times we just want to move the story forward rather than dwell in the past. A good bit of exposition already clued us in to the fact that Anakin Skywalker went bad and killed a lot of Jedi, did we really need three movies to see it happen? Did it add anything to the later narrative? It doesn’t progress the story, it’s just background. In the same way, listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and the rest of the Seattle Grunge scene gave me a pretty good idea of alternative music, listening to the Pixies and Led Zeppelin, the inspiring ideas, seemed redundant. I was in error on this one. As such, I’ve become a fervent Pixies fan. I still can’t get into Led Zeppelin, though.
Fast forward to now, and I have bought both of the most recent Pixies albums as they were released. I listen to the Pixies a lot, talk about them as if they are a holy relic, and have seen them live in concert twice. Point of fact, they do not disappoint live. Both shows were amazing. They didn’t really do much more than stand on stage and play their songs to a choreographed lighting array, but they had energy when they did, and the crowd had energy. It was great, and I’ll go see them any time they come to my town.
I can’t quite put my finger on why I love the Pixies, though. I mean, I enjoy them every time they come up on my player. They fall into the category of “never skip” artists. There is never a moment where I say “no, I don’t feel like listening to the Pixies right now.” The closest I came was yesterday, when I had to take a break after 5 straight hours of them on the tale end of a week full of Pixies. And I spent this week trying to decide what made them so good and what made me love them so much. I couldn’t do it. That was also evident yesterday, as I blurted out at some point “I don’t know how the world deserved the Pixies, but I’m glad it happened” while Heather and I were sitting listening to them.
I didn’t expect a mystery like this so late in the countdown. I would have assumed that I had very clear reasons for including them and for placing them this high on the list. But I don’t, and I’m a little bothered by it. I worry that it makes it look like I’m just throwing this list together, rather than carefully thinking about it and planning it. I know they belong here. I know they deserve the accolades I’m heaping upon them. But after a full week, I still don’t know why. I’m not going to fixate on it, I have 15 more artists to fixate on instead. Sorry to disappoint without a well thought out reasoning behind this, but truth be told that’s the way it is sometimes. There are times we love something, and we don’t know why, but we know it’s real. I’m not a genius psychoanalyst or an expert in musical theory. I am barely an expert in my own mind, yet I seem to be the foremost expert on at least that. I didn’t get any new information out of the deep dive of Pixies I did this week.
Oh, well. I love them. That’s really all that matters. I’ll still love them. They’ll still be a big part of my life, even if I never understand exactly why I seem to need them so much. Screw it, that’s love. Sometimes, just sometimes, love is that pure.