Sunday, January 15, 2017

Song of the Day: "Debaser" by The Pixies

"Debaser" by The Pixies is pretty much the most rocking thing that ever happened to me.

I'm blogging without glasses, bold move indeed on my part given that—thanks to my particularly ovoid eyeballs—my world without corrective lenses is an impressionist painting.

Even if I knew where I put my glasses some 45 minutes ago, my glasses currently suck. Our husky dog, Cody or Koda—depending on whether you like cute or Jack London—retrieved my glasses off the counter a couple days ago.

I then retrieved them from the floor to find one temple (that's the thingy that goes over your ears) had been chewed into a short, sharp spear and little, sight-obscuring craters had been gouged into one lens. So even with glasses, I'm not in great shape seeing-wise at the moment.

Sans glasses as I am now, I'm basically holding up a monocle on which a viscous, petroleum-based substance has been smeared, saying, "I say, is that a figure in yonder field or is it a trick of the light?"

I am a carefree spirit in some ways but not when it comes to writing errors. So you might say that daring to make this post—not, like Kenny Roger's Gambler "too tired to sleep" but more like "too blind to edit—is the second most rocking thing that ever happened to me.


Again, my song of the day is "Debaser" by The Pixies. If I'm not mistaken, it's the first song on their album Doolittle and it comes in careening and screeching so you know this album is going to have you—to crib a phrase from They Might Be Giants—making a little mosh pit in your mind.



Frank Black sounds overwrought but, unlike some other stylistically overwrought performers like David Byrne, who make you wonder if the twitching vocalist might not be insane, he makes you suspect he just might be right. If anyone can convince you that there really is a creature on the wing, it's Frank Black.


And then there's those lyrics, referring to a silent 1929 surrealist film by Spanish director Luis Banuel, "Un Chien Andalou," or, if you prefer English, "The Andalusian Dog."

The movie is full of images intended to disturb the viewer and, in doing so, wash away their complacency.

Whether you knew it from the start or learned it from Professor Google, you feel like a real insider—an intellectual, if you will—when you know what the lyrics to "Debaser" are talking about. You feel hip AND educated, a heady combination for anyone of fluctuating sense of self-esteem.

It feels splendid to shout along: "Got me a movie, I want you to know. Slicing up eyeballs, I want you to know. Girl is so groovy, I want you to know. Don't know about you, but I am un chien Andalusian. . .Wanna grow up to be a debaser."

To debase someone or something is not a good thing, generally speaking, but Frank makes it sound fun and bracing. And, as always in real rock 'n roll, you don't have to know exactly what it means for it to be a battle cry.

Kim Deal adds bouncy bass and sweet vocals, not surprising for someone who was a cheerleader in high school. But her playing has a solidity to it that helps make The Pixies a powerhouse.



She's  physically strong and as in it to win it as any of the boys. And that makes everyone happy.

You see, it's not fat-bottomed girls that make the world go round, though it was a delightful whim of Freddie Mercury's. It's tomboys. Women who were riot grrls back when they were swimming in paddling pools. Women like Kim, Deal, who can run with the wolves as a Pixie and then craft a galvanizing rock classic like "Cannonball" with The Breeders. The aforementioned Breeders song benefits from the fact that any angst underlying the tune has been coated in sugar and Pop-Rocks, sonically speaking.

Back to "Debaser." There's David Lovering, with a lead foot on the kick drum, buoying the bass and stomping out the devil. Joey Santiago's guitar is majestic and soaring; you may need to drink ayahuasca to fully comprehend his stratospheric fretwork.

Frank Black has said that the primary vibe of The Pixies, a band that formed when they were all so young—and I was young too—has a vibe of sex and death. I'll let you be the judge of that.



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