Did you know that the Pixies have been my #1 favorite band of all time for many years? The first time I ever heard a Pixies song was in eighth grade, probably around the year 1990. The first Pixies song I ever heard was “Gigantic,” which came on a mix tape that my pen-pal Justin sent me. His cool older brother worked at a radio station, so he always had access to the best material for mix tapes. Until that year, I had mostly been boogying to the likes of REM and Fine Young Cannibals, with a dash of They Might be Giants thrown in. But the Pixies opened my eyes.
Because my first exposure was to “Gigantic,” imagine my surprise when I picked up the album Bossanova at a used record store in Minneapolis. I had assumed that Kim Deal was the lead singer, but no! The hypertensive vocals of one Black Francis, aka Charles Thompson, aka Frank Black, smooshed out at me. I had assumed that their primary sound was jangly pop, but no! Joey Santiago’s dreamy surf guitar soothed my ears like shastasheen. Yes, Kim Deal and David Lovering were still around (David’s vaguely Nick Cave-ish voice droned on about Debbie Gibson), but BF and Joey were the ones that won my ears.
Over the years, I purchased what I believe is their entire catalogue, or close to it. Besides the major studio albums, I think I own all the B-sides, all the EPs, and all the compilation albums they contributed to (when I jog with the tune “I Can’t Forget” in my head, it’s the Pixies who are performing it there in my skull, not Leonard Cohen, bless his heart). When I saw vinyls of Surfer Rosa and Come On, Pilgrim for sale, I was [this close] to buying them, until Denny reminded me that a) I already own those albums, and b) I don’t own a turntable. I still want them.
When I heard the news of the Pixies’ demise in 1993, it is not exaggerating to say at least fourteen of my inner heart cells died. It had been my dream to see them live in concert, and it seemed my dream would never come true. Sure, I saw Frank Black and the Catholics (a later project of Charles Thompson’s) at Gabe’s in Iowa City a few years ago, and his fat, bald head was as glisteny with sweat as I could have dreamed, but it just wasn’t the same. I wanted to hear BF sing the line, “Rock me, Joe,” in the song “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and have Joey actually rock him. I was even willing to put up David’s doofiness and Kim’s helium voice, because they were all somehow less irritating when they were together.
But no! I always blamed Kim for the breakup, because her side project The Breeders gained some success immediately after the Pixies ended. I assumed she wanted to spend more time with The Breeders and heroin (rumors of wanton drug abuse by Kim and her sister Kelly abounded). In retrospect, Charles was surely as much to blame as Kim. Talent notwithstanding, I hear he’s a real jerk. Lord knows he didn’t seem to appreciate my rocking from the front row at Gabe’s.
So I resigned myself to the fact that I would never see them live.
Imagine my delight when, in this gentle year of 2004, they scheduled a reunion tour. I was afraid that due to their volatile temperments, they might fizzle out on the European leg of the tour. But apparently they didn’t, because they played a show last night in St. Paul, and they’d damned well better play one again tonight, because that’s when my tickets are for. They had scheduled one in Cedar Rapids, which would have been superfly, because how great would it be to see the Pixies twice on one tour? Really great, that’s how great. But unfortunately, they canceled that show, I believe due to weak ticket sales. Lameass Iowans. Luckily, I already had my Twin Cities tickets, so I just returned my CR tickets and hope-hope-hoped that they wouldn’t break up before the St. Paul show.
I’m heading up this afternoon. It’s kind of poetic that I’m seeing them in concert in the same city where I bought my first Pixies album.