Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 53
Thurs, Mar 19, 2013
You could walk into any bar in America and if they had Pixies in the jukebox, you can tell that pub is going to be a good one. You see, Pixies are a required after taste for the refined music connoisseur. Pixies may have been played on KROQ in Los Angeles, college radio and many late night specialty DJ shows but you’ll rarely hear Pixies play on the classic or any other kind of commercial radio. Pixies don’t play your average boy meets girl bubble gum pop songs. You have to be certain kind of strangely perverted with an artistic sensibility to appreciate Frank Black Francis love of anything twisted lyrically with shades of Dali surrealism.
Ben Sisario documented in his installment 33 1/3 series of the making of Pixies 1989 seminal album Doolittle. Sisario wrote this about “Hey,” “Thompson [Frank Black Francis actual name is Charles Thompson IV] says [‘Hey”] was to some degree inspired by the thoughts of his mother and father, particularly in their wild younger years. [Producer Gil] Norton remembers Thompson was not present when the band cut the backing track for that song. Mother, father, stepmother, divorce, sex, death—all are chained together.”
Pixies Drummer David Lovering talked to MusicRadar about Doolittle specifically saying this about “Hey,” “This was the only song that was recorded totally live, with no overdubs at all. It was an old song for us at the time – not as old as Here Comes Your Man, but we knew it inside and out. The emotions were very pure and joyous as we cut it. We went in, knocked it out and looked at each other: ‘Hey… done!” You can feel the power within the Doolittle album version but I prefer the rawness of the Pixies at The BBC version. I love that eternal echo on Francis’ vocal. It reflects more of his lustful agony that we’ve all experience at one time during our lives.
Did you know “Hey” was one of the oldest songs in the bands catalog? In the book, Fool The World: the oral history of a band called Pixies by Josh Frank & Caryn Ganz, Kim Deal’s ex-husband, John Murphy, remembered “Hey” this way, “The song “Hey” they were playing on the Surfer Rosa tour and it was really on Doolittle. And they had other songs that they hadn’t recorded yet, officially, but they had been playing for years.” Lovering reminisced further about Pixies fans love for “Hey” when he told MusicRadar. “Audiences really love the song. I don’t play it exactly like it is on the record. There’s a little breakdown section with just the snare and the kick. I know I do it differently, but I haven’t actually sat down with the CD to see what I originally did. I probably should so I can correct my approach. On the other hand, what I’m doing works, so I don’t know if I want to change it.”
The popularity of “Hey” may be linked with Black Francis lyrics that exude male sexual frustration. Could this be why Doolittle and “Hey” are so twisted yet totally memorable? The artist formally known as Charles Thompson IV told 33 1/3 author Sisario this about “Hey,” when he said, “I don’t know that sex is a totally beautiful, normal thing the way that the gods intended for a lot of people. I think it can end up that way, and people can get there. But I think mixed up with that are a lot of other feelings. Because hey. There’s something to be said for how it’s all about sex and death. Maybe that’s why people like the Pixies…”
All I know, like Marshall from How I Met Your Mother, is that I love me some strange; and some of the best friends I have met and some of the best pubs in America all have had Pixies’ Doolittle in their jukebox collections. If you like the Pixies, you’re okay with me, because the Pixies were the soundtrack for the strange ones—the shy, the lost and lustfully horny. If you’re a member of this eccentric minority, I urge you to crank up “Hey” and let Frank Black Francis express your carnal desires as you throw on some Doolittle; let the Pixies perverted post-punk songs declare your horniness today.