Explanations/Comments about Pixies Songs, Album Titles and Band Name

"The best rock music in the world is the stuff that's introverted, it all has to do with the personality making it. As soon as you start taking into account other personalities you pan out, you're bland." (Black Francis)

Here follow some comments/explanations about Pixies songs and album names. Some of them come from interviews, others from articles, others just from guesses. Some interview extracts were translated from the French (sorry if the translation is not accurate).

Recent additions are highlighted.

If you have any relevant (or irrelevant) additions, please tell us!

Thanks go to Isaac Burwell, who kindly supplied us with the article "Talking with the Animals" published in New Musical Express, 22nd April 1989, that had Black Francis describing each track of Doolittle. Thanks also go to Lukas Lessa, who provided us the above Black Francis quote.


"I thought it was important to speak about Gustave Alexandre Eiffel, as he is considered as the pioneer of aerodynamics. Fascinating subject" (BF)

"Because of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, but also because it's funny: in the USA and in Australia, you often day 'It's a smart Alec' from a guy who's nice but not very bright." (BF)

" According to Charles, the song started with Eiffel, then he started to singing the words Eiffel, riffle, trifle, and suddenly 'everything fell into place'. It's not certain whether lines like 'little Eiffel stands in the archway, even though it doesn't make no sense' are an observation of the lunacy of the architecture or the song itself, which features a Sixties' -style zither! " (Melody Maker)


"The longest song we recorded ever. 5min is the usual average time for a song now, but for us it was a real event." (BF)


"Allison was originally about a girl called Alison, 'but of course Elvis Costello has a song called Alison, so I had to change it.' Now it's about Mose Allison, the jazz pianist." (Q article)


"A surf song based on anagrams. Hence the title" (BF)

"See `Ana'? It's lie anaGRAM" (BF)

S he's my fave
U ndressing in the sun
R eturn to sea (bye)
F orgetting everyone
E leven high
R ide a wave

"She's, like, this naked surfer girl on a board on top of an 11-foot wave, y'know cruising in never-never land. Never-never ocean." (Black Francis in a Q article)


"This is a song about a bird that falls asleep and dreams he flies to Mars" (BF)

" He sings about dreaming of waking up to 'sunshine in the rusty morning', which hints at a Mars-scape. The Mons Olympus is a mountain range of Mars, with summits over three times the size of Everest . " (Melody Maker)

BLACK FRANCIS (Charles Thompson's pseudonym)

"Charles decided to call himself Black Francis because he 'always liked sort of funny, corny pompous stage names like Iggy Pop and Billy Idol'. Black francis was the name his father was going to give his next son; the son never materialised, so Charles adopted the title instead." (Melody Maker)


"We absolutely wanted to try the Hansa Ton studio, in Berlin" (BF)

"Pretty much a down-the-line love song, though a frustrated love" (Melody Maker)

"Like one of those Neil Young love songs that exist out there in space somewhere. It's not about anyone or anything specifically. It's not about her eyes our the back of her knees." (BF in Melody Maker)

"Wrote my first song ever 'on the road'. I'm such a professional. I have dreams of recording it in Berlin at Hansa, just like David Bowie (pronounced Bowee)." (BF in its 1989 tour diary, from whom some excerpts were published in Melody Maker. 'Blown Away' is the speculated song because of the quote above)


"Songs like 'Bone Machine' or 'Break My Body' formed a kind of anatomical Esperanto, speaking in tongues to suggest a carnivorous lust." (Melody Maker)

"An uneasy physical presence dominated 'Bone Machine' and 'Break My Body'" (Melody Maker)

"The imagery is a reference to female anatomy - the pelvis as a sexual area of life. It's an area that people move and swing when they dance." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997, check all DTTP comments in reviews section)


In "Bossanova" there is "boss". (from an article)

Taken from the 'Hangwire' track.


"Songs like 'Bone Machine' or 'Break My Body' formed a kind of anatomical Esperanto, speaking in tongues to suggest a carnivorous lust." (Melody Maker)

"An uneasy physical presence dominated 'Bone Machine' and 'Break My Body'" (Melody Maker)


"There was this boy who had two children with his sisters...who were his daughters...uh, what can I say...who were his favorite lovers!" (BF)


"The prison inmate of 'Cactus' pleads with his girlfriend to rub her dress with sweat and blood and send it to him (with music inspired by T. Rex's 'The Groover')" (Melody Maker)


"It gets into a bit of animism, maybe a little of reincarnation. My focus was the hunt, the caribou. It was good to play - very loud, with a nice little triplet swing going on." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)


"A cover, a surf song as there should be more of them" (BF)

The Pixies discovered this song by the Surftones, a quite obscure surf band from the 70's, while listening to a CD compilation in a store in L.A. (translated from a Spanish article)

"Our nod to the glory of surf music. We'd actually rehearsed 'Apache' by the Shadows, but we ended up doing this." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)


Homage to Charles' ancestor, who was "the only pilgrim to be hanged because he had knitted an "heretic hat" for himself" (from French 4AD promo text)

"'Come On Pilgrim' was taken from a song by Larry Norman, a Christian folk singer who Charles saw perform at summer camp when he was 13." (Melody Maker)

"The words Come on pilgrim, you know he loves you are indeed from my brother Larry Norman's song Watch What You're Doing. The song is on his 1977 album called Something New Under The Son". (reported by Charles Norman, Larry's own brother. In a previous version, we wrote about "late" Larry Norman. We apologize, but we are actually quite happy of this mistake, which permitted us to receive a nice e-mail from Charles Norman)


"Charles tale of his 'weirdo, psycho gay roommate in Puerto Rico'" (Melody Maker citing BF)

"Joses Jones is a roommate I had in Puerto Rico. I lived in this men's dorm that was half homosexual and I had this really crazy drug addict psycho weirdo guy to share with and this is all about him. I would be speaking to him in Spanish so everything would be a little vague to me and he kept talking on and on about Paco Picopiedra and La Muneca. I couldn't work out what he was talking about and it was Fred Flinstone!" (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


BF said it was about a UFO which landed in Nebraska. His mother told him about it years later and it scared him.

Cf. Manta Ray


"Dead refers to the story of King David and Bathsheba, 'Uriah hit the crapper, crapper.'" (Alternative Press)

"This is the story of David and Bathsheba of the Old Testament. King David was on his rooftop one nighttime watching a woman bathing in the nude and he was aroused, I guess. Anyway he sent some men after her and I don't know whether it was rape or a seduction, but she became pregnant. So David arrange for Uriah, her husband, who was a soldier in his army, to be sent to the battle on a suicide mission. So 'Dead' is a metaphor for sex reduced to the most basic; ugly, bad lust with equally bad results." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


Based on French surrealistic film "Un Chien Andalou", by Spanish director Luis Bunuel (1928 or 1929?). The film has a scene in which an eyeball is being cut open.

"I am un chien andalucia" actually mixes English ("I am"), Spanish ("un", which exists in French, but is actually pronounced as in Spanish), French ("chien"), and "Andalucia" which is an area in south Spain where Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali filmed and lived (thanks go to Steve Arrowood for the correction).

"I wish Bunuel was still alive. He made this film about nothing in particular. The title itself is a nonsense. With my stupid, pseudo-scholar, naive, enthusiast, avant-garde-ish, amateurish way to watch 'Un Chien Andalou' (twice), I thought: 'Yeah, I will make a song about it,' he sings: "un chien andalou"...It sounds too French, so I will sing "un chien andalusia", it sounds good, no?" (Black Francis, translated from a Spanish interview)

"I was recently talking to Billy Corgan at a concert and he started reciting the lyrics to me. 'Slicing up eyeballs' - it's a textbook idea of what's shocking'" (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)

"There's a chord progression, that's the first thing. Then a word or a phrase at the most. Then a topic evolves around that. I thought of Un Chien Andalou and I thought an arty French movie was an equally dumb thing to write a song about. Debaser fitted well because at the time of the movie the Parisiens were ripping up their seats in the theatres because of another film and the point of Un Chien Andalou was to debase morality. To debase standards of art. The classic film school shot is the razor slicing across the eyeball. Eyes are the main way people communicate; you can hold unspoken conversations. I guess that it's the most important part of your body unless you're talking to a blind person." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"Stupid lyrics. One of the really first we practiced together. It took us 4 years and several computers to make it sound OK." (BF)

"Oh, it's all nonsense, a bad Talking Heads imitation" (BF)

"Very derivative of the Talking Heads. It's probably about the summer I spent as an archaeology student, working on a burial ground and looking at the sky." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)


"I believe FB once wrote a song about his european concert promoter Geoff Craft of Fair Warning, who did a lot to break the band in Europe and who still represent both FB and the Breeders. I asked him if it was Distance Equals Rate Times Time (Jeffrey with one F, ONE F!) but he wouldn't commit. I do know however that the two guys are firm friends." (reported by Jon Sleeper Stewart)

DOOLITTLE (Album Name)

"Actually, this Monkey Gone To Heaven forced the Pixies to change their original album title, WHORE. 'I didn't like how the word went with the artwork. Too Catholic or something. People would think I was anti-Catholic.'" (Alternative Press citing BF)

"If I could be anyone, I'd be Dr Doolittle and talk to the animals. We'd shoot some shit" (BF in Melody Maker)

"The album's eventual title, Doolittle, seemed to be 'more in touch with the Earth', balancing nature against man's desire for progression" (Record Collector)


"The first song we played together, the 4 of us" (BF)

"Down To The Well is grubby, with a minimalist chunky guitar line straight from an early Kinks single" (Melody Maker)


Cover in Spanish from a Yardbirds song.

"In the first take, I made a big mistake in Spanish. Fortunately, my publisher noticed it. What a shame it would have been in front of my Mexican friends!" (BF)

Another source says that Black Francis asked a proper translator to do the work, as he didn't want to mess up somebody else's lyrics.


"This is an hymn to sex" (4AD promo text).

About the steorotype that black men have bigger dicks than white men? (guess)

Kim Deal said she took inspiration from a 1986 Bruce Beresford movie, "Crimes Of The Heart", in which Sissy Spacek is a married woman who falls in love with a 15-year old black guy. Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard were also in this movie. (translated from a Spanish article)

"A good chord progression, very Lou-Reed influenced. I'd had the word 'gigantic' in my mind just because the chord progression seemed very big to me." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)


"On the front is a picture of a baby. Open the CD case and you'll see a picture of a glove. For years I've wondered why these specific images were chosen. Other than just setting a mood, the reason escaped me.
Well, today while driving to class, I had "Gigantic" blaring in my car. Suddenly, during the chorus, everything came together. It was one of those bizarre space-out moments you sometimes have. All of a sudden, I no longer heard Kim and Black sing "A big big love, a big big love" but instead heard "a baby glove, a baby glove" Ivo or Vaughan must have heard the same thing and chose the artwork as an in-joke." (reported by Mr. Grieves)


"I asked Frank if it was about Samson and Delilah when I met him at Reading Festival and he confirmed this, adding that classical themes had always played a bit part in his songwriting." (reported by Jon Sleeper Stewart)

"The pillars have something to do with an old story - Samson and Delilah. Pillar's a cool word, though. It's something that supports traditionally, but I don't think like that. I think of it more as a decoration, in mansions or a palace or a big ballroom or even an old archaeological dig with no buildings left. I worked on a couple of burials (a few years ago on an archaeological dig in Arizona). I don't remember if we figured out if they were buried the same time or not. I saw the rib cage of the infant." (BF in Alternative Press)

"A fairly straight telling of the story of Samson and Delilah. It has one of those circular progressions, when the verse and the chorus have the same chords. I like it a lot." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)

"Yeah, you've got it in one. It's a story about Sampson and Delilah, you're the first person that's actually realised - probably because the song doesn't actually mention Sampson or Delilah. It's a sort of sex story: Delilah shows up as a secret spy of the Philistines and has an affair with Sampson. I don't know what he was getting out of it. But enough sex and drugs and relaxation to give up his secrets. Maybe he loved her, I dunno. But they gouged his eyes out in the end." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"The Stones recorded a song called "Hang Fire". I really liked how it sounded, but I couldn't reuse the same words. "Wire" was the initial point for the lyrics. I thought about barbed wires, in a farm, and I took inspiration from Japanese poetry, reusing the Haiku format: 5 syllabs, then 7, then 5 again" (BF)

Wasn't the Stones' song rather "I'm On Fire"?


"The Happening, likewise, has nothing to do with Diana Ross. 'That's based on this guy Billy Goodman, who had a radio talk show out of Las Vegas, The Billy Goodman Happening, dedicated to UFO stuff people calling in to tell of how their husband got murdered by an alien. The song The Happening tells of how the aliens land in Vegas: it's always been my wish that if they do land, it'll be Billy and his audience that get the credit in the greeting !' " (Q article quoting Black Francis)


"Havalina is apparently the Mexican name for a wild boar and has nothing to do with the band of that name - who did, however, get The Pixies stoned in Texas. "Helped us out in a very dry period," says Charles." (Q article)

"Havalina, the album's closing song, was composed after Charles and his girlfriend were chased by a wild pig in Arizona. 'So he decided to write a real pretty love song. I've been thinking about this...I don't think there's anything innately erotic about pigs. But generally they are sweet, shy, mysterious creatures. Especially the little ones. When they get big, they get kinda gross.'" (Melody Maker citing Kim Deal)

HEAD ON (Jesus & Mary Chain)

"This song was continuously played on the radio while we were recording the album. It was too fresh in memories to cover it. That's why we did it" (BF)

" When Jim and William [Reid] heard the version live at The Pixies' recent dates at Brixton Academy, both gave it their blessing with the inimitable phrase, 'F*** it, this is how it should sound.' " (Melody Maker)


"Last winter I was doing promotion in Stockholm and I heard this on the radio. It sounded like the most sugary, sweet thing ever. One of our chirpier numbers. Other people like it, what can you say?" (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)

"This is a pre-Pixies song that I wrote when I was about 15. It's about wino's and hobos travelling on the trains who dies in the California Earthquake. Before earthquakes everything gets very calm, animals stop talking and birds stop chirping and there's no wind. It's very ominous. I've been through a few earthquakes actually 'cos I grew up in California. I was only in one big one in 1971. I was very young and I slept through it. I've been awake through lots of small ones at school and at home. It's very exciting actually, a very comical thing. It's like the earth is shaking, and what can you do? Nothing." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"It's a relationship song about two classic sad figures. Myself or maybe not myself. Uh is the sound of sex and also of childbirth. I dunno I'm just sorta sad about about how sex goes the wrong way in a very basic sort of way and how it results in very amazing things like childbirth and stuff." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"An anthem for masturbation ('Here I am with my hand')" (Melody Maker)

"Yeah, that's the one with the mastubatory reference. Kind of a sea-shanty thing - 'He's painted her on the sheets'. It might be an incest thing. But, y'know, I don't have any sisters or anything..." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)

IN HEAVEN (The Lady In The Radiator Song)

Taken from David Lynch film "Eraserhead"


"In the first two verses there's no topic whatsoever; all this is just a rhyme structured AABCBDD. It's all very automatic. The rest is about Arizona. There's a very famous cliff dwelling there, with two or three storey houses about a mile up inside these cliffs. It's about 900 years old and you can still see the handprints from the people who pressed the plaster onto the walls. And you can take your hand and place it in the print and it's very wooh." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


cf. "Winterlong"


BF said the bridge was about the Coqui frog which is only found in Puerto Rico ("coqui" because of the sound it makes).

"Vamos and Isla De Encanta painted pictures of poverty and perversion which could be pinned down to Black's time on the streets of Porta Rico" (Record Collector)


"Disco girl sound!" (BF)

"A lunar lament to the most spaced out of Earth girls" (Record Collector)


"La La Love You with Lovering on vocals and whistles, reincarnates 60's amour." (Alternative Press)

"In the past people would listen to certain songs and assume they were love songs. But a song like La La Love You is about anything but love." (BF in Melody Maker)

"There is no love in here. Not a drop. I've never written a love song. It's just like an abstract sort of joke; 'la la love you don't mean maybe'. It's just mimicking a really bad 1950's song or maybe I should say 1980's. 'First base, second base, third base, home run' is a very Shakespearian crass joke in America, a crude joke for full copulation. I'm just being as minimalist as I can, but it conjures up lots of images - well one image I should say." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"A love song" (BF)

Memphis is the ancient capital of Egypt

" Probably the closest Charles ever come to writing a love song " (Melody Maker)


"Levitate Me dated back to Charles' adolescent bashing of the bible for inspiration" (Record Collector)


"A song I wrote for David Lovering, a love song for Debbie Gibson. When we recorded it originally I doubled up the drums and it sounded way Gary Glitter, way Clash. I loved it but it was a little too like The Dickies and Ciccone Youth and those guys do it best." (BF in NME)

"A kind of love song to Debbie Gibson., but it's something of a joke really. I don't really want to marry her. Honestly." (BF in Melody Maker)


"In 1965, my family was exposed to an UFO" (BF) BF was 3 months old at that time ("month number three")

"That's my code word for UFO. It's about a UFO incident in 1965. I have it described to me in great detail by people who were there. My mother was there. This was in Nebraska. My cousin has a couple of UFO experiences, too. I've only had one and I don't even remember it; it's sort of undramatic. There were legit people who don't even follow that stuff. It's like,
'What, mom? Say that again? There was a flying saucer floating above the house for half an hour and everyone just stood there and watched it?'
'Yeah, I don't know. There was just kind of a floating saucer.'
Charles imitates in a maternal falsetto. 'I was just like, 'What?' It was just hovering. Then the state police came and chase it, but they couldn't catch up with it. A big red fucking saucer, a glowing, fucking, flying saucer. My mother's weird, but she's not that weird. She's got no reason to make this stuff up. She's harmless, do you know what I mean? I have a couple of memories as a young boy seeing things in the sky that did not look like airplanes. Once a rocketship, but I thought it was a blimp because we lived right near the Goodyear Blimp in L.A. It was right down the road and took off everyday. It would have messages and stuff. So I was watching the lights of the blimp so I sort of was following in the car, then it started going in the other direction, really fast. It was a blimp, then it wasn't a blimp. Of course an airplane does not look like that. The only thing that moves like it is a helicopter and it just did not look like a helicopter. It was a blimp then it was going really fast and going in the other direction. Blimps make real wide turns." (Alternative Press citing BF)


"There was no monkey in Monkey Gone To Heaven. It was just a phrase that Thompson used for the hook at first. It sounded so good he left it that way." (article)

Monkey Gone To Heaven plays on Hebrew scriptures - Man is 5, the Devil is 6, and God is 7. 'It's a reference from what I understand to be Hebrew numerology, and I don't know a lot about it or any of it really. I just remember someone telling me of the supposed fact that in the Hebrew language, especially in the Bible, you can find lots of references to man in the 5th and Satan in the 6th and God in the 7th. I don't know if there is a spiritual hierarchy or not. But it's a neat little fact, if it is a fact. I didn't go to the library and figure it out.' The stark repetition of 'Monkey', embellished by a string section, which Charles insisted on rather than using synthesizers, parallels the harsh thruths about man in nature." (Alternative Press article citing BF)

"In an interview eight months later [the release of the single], Charles spoke of his frustration over the dumping of garbage 100 miles out to sea off New Jersey. 'There's tons and tons of sludge, and the fishermen bring up fish with sores on them and fins rotting away,' he said. Somehow this frustration translated into a Green anthem which had Man, God and the Devil at sixes and seven." (Melody Maker)

"Monkey Gone To Heaven was interpreted as a green anthem with Man, God and the Devil at sixes and sevens over ozone layers" (Record Collector)

"Yeah, it mentions the hole in the ozone and the sea pollution. And, y'know, heaven's always a nice thing to slip in and then you have some Biblical numerology - 'And if man is five... and the devil is six... and God is seven.' It just seemed to fit." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)

"'This monkey's gone to heaven' is not connected to the rest of the song at all, it was the working lyric and we couldn't come up with anything better. I'm not really trying to address any issue: the sky and the ocean are both very ancient, spiritual and mythological places. And I'm just trying to talk about them in surreal kinds of ways: there's a hole in the ozone layer scientifically, but the unreal side is that there's a hole in the sky and the sky means alot of things and has alot of implications to lots of people in different cultures in past, present and future, right? Like the man dying from the sludge in the water in New Jersey, is just me getting mythological again. It's Neptune I picture dying from the pollution." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


A place in New Mexico where a spaceship is supposed to have crashed in 1947.


"Mr Grieves pointed to another favourite subject, death." (Melody Maker)

"It's about the end of the world I guess. Mr Grieves is the Death character of mythology. The 'man in the middle' is Dr Doolittle, because if you could speak to the animals you would be the great link between mankind and the animal world. There's this theory that if not smarter than us, animals are aware of what's going on and if we could communicate with them, they could give us the answer of the future and make everything ok. But I'm assuming that a nuclear winter will mean that Mr Grieves is going to win in the end." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"About mohicans who work on construction sites. They are amazing. 'Navajo' is here for the rhyme only" (BF)


"The Nimrod was the Nimrod of the Old Testament. The Biblical thing, I think, has always been part of rock. Y'know, Jerry Lewis, 'Great Balls of Fire'..." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)

No. 13 BABY

BF said he used a guitar lick from the Velvet Underground in the chorus.

"The tattooed mutilation of 'Number 13 Baby'" (Melody Maker)

"This is a collage of images of when I was growing up in Los Angeles. Number 13 traditionally means bad luck, but in America, especially in the 60's among bikers and chicanos, the number 13 is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet: M for marijuana. It's a really goofy sub culture, but it's kinda funny, and even today you can see it spray-painted on walls 'The Meter Boys Number 13'. So it is about a Mexican girl or a Samoan girl, a boyish, sexual, adolescent collage of Southern California living." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


I have come to interpret this song as a story about a mythical woman who come from the ocean and bewitches the singer, charming him with a love spell that makes him uncontrollably obsessed and eventually ruins his life. You might say it is a modern, punk/surf rock adaptation of the story of the Sirens from Homer's Odyssey. However you translate it, it is certainly a story of love, obsession and surfing. I have looked long and hard to figure out the meaning of this song. I have shown the lyrics to many Spanish speaking people (a very good Ecuadorian friend, my girlfriend who is Mexican, my highschool Spanish teacher to name a few) and every time I have gotten a different interpretation. However, all of the translations have a few things in common:
"Dentro las piņones y las olas riquenas" This I have been told by everyone I have asked is used simply to set the scene for the poem. It is a metaphorical description of the waves from which Surfer Rosa emerges. The word "piņones" can be directly translated into English as "pinions" which is defined by dictionary.com as "A small cogwheel that engages or is engaged by a larger cogwheel or a rack" This is the author's way of describing the visual appearance of the waves. He sees them almost as the grinding gears of an engine, violently rolling in on themselves and filled with tremendous potential destructive power. This is his way of creating tension and foreshadowing the tragedy of his eventual demise.
"Yo soy playero pero no hay playa" The translations you have for this are essentially correct, but probably to little too literal. From what I have been told the word "playero" should be translated as "surfer" as opposed to "beachgoer." So the sentence would read as "I am a surfer, but I don't have a beach." A small detail, I know, but when you are talking about the subtleties of poetry, those small details are very important, and I think this interpretation fits with the theme of the poem better.
"La vida total es un porqueria, porqueria" "Hecho de menos mas que vida" (which I think should actually should be just "Hecho menos mas que vida") These lines describe the downfall of the author and his lamentation of what his life has become. In the first line he is indeed saying that "all of life is a pigsty" or as your second translation infers "all of life is shitty" which is probably the more accurate translation. The second line, I think, is probably the most poignant line of the poem. Here the author takes full blame for the bad things that have happened to him. He is basically saying "I, more or less, made this life." This shows the power of the spell that Surfer Rosa has cast upon him. Not only did she enslave him and turn his life into a rotten sty, but she made the poor man believe that it was all his fault. What a cold-hearted bitch!
(submitted by John H. Gordon)


"About a dead lake whose bottom is covered by salt. Actually, billions of shrimps live in it. Sea Monkeys" (BF)

"Perhaps about the lost underwater city of Atlantis" (Melody Maker)

"As BF says himself it is about a dead lake. I was driving across the US one time and came across the Great Salt lake near Salt Lake City, Utah.
It is completely dried up and covered with salt, but every once in a while you'll come across a small puddle that is completely filled with brine shrimp. They are able to survive until they come in contact with salt water at which point they hatch (for instance, after it rains).
I remember thinking at the time that this must be what that song is about. What's more is that there is an old hotel on the shore of the great salt lake that looks like some kind of mosque, which would be the "palace."
I had not heard BF's comment before this, it just came to me, and also being a songwriter myself it seemd like a cool thing to write a song about. So there you have it!" (reported by Jeff L. Taggart)

PIXIES (Band Name)

The original name of the band was Pixies in Panoply but it was shortened to Pixies.

"It was Joey who thought up the name The Pixies, although he apparently didn't even know what the word meant at that time. 'With English not his first language, Joey has a fascination for new words. 'Oh I like that word,' he says, and looks it up and sees what it means. Believe it or not, he wanted to call the band Pixies In Panoply, but we shortened it a little.'" (Melody Maker citing BF)


"An alien intercepts messages from earth. He goes from a planet to another, but each time he is told that this is not the planet of sound" (BF)

"The lyric is meant to be sung by an alien. It's a romantic notion - our planet has the phenomenon of sound that occurs nowhere else. So the aliens refer us as The Planet Of Sound. That was the perspective." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)


"The boogie sequence at the end of River Euphrates is 'a fake Jesus And Mary Chain song'." (Sound citing BF)


At Reading, the band opened with Rock Music primarily because Black Francis was too scared to launch into singing before a crowd of 30,000 people (Information taken from Record Collector)


"About dinosaurs, extinction. I wanted to compose an instrumental like "The Lonely Surfer", by Jack Nitzsche in the early 60's, and thought "Sad Punk" would be a good title for it. Then I changed my mind" (BF)

" According to Charles, Sad Punk is about 'a kid walking along and thinking about dinosaur bones beneath his feet', which explains the one-word screamed chorus of 'Extinction' " (Melody Maker)

According to James Butcher, The Sad Punk could be a reference to The Outsider (L'Etranger), by Albert Camus: "The whole of the first verse is a pretty straightforward account of the killing (It was not long ago / could have happened to anyone / he was struck by a bullet / and he melted into fluid named extinction) - One of Meursault's claims throughout the book is that it could've happened to anyone.
The second verse basically paraphrases the most important parts of L'Etranger; 1000 miles an hour mirrors Meursault's lack of control on the beach, I'm just like anyone is a direct quote from the first half of the book if I remember rightly, and the hopeless I want to feel the road of tar beneath the wheel named Extinction is a brilliant summing up of M's situation in the prison. Kim's spooky bit contains references to the sun, and the sea, which are two of the most important images, and run all the way through L'Etranger.
As if we needed further convincing, Black Francis tells us exactly what The Sad Punk is about in the last line I read something about a son of a gun named Extinction. So it's about a book then?....."

Killing An Arab by The Cure is already a reference to this novel, and The Fall took their name from a Camus novel too. Could the "sad punk" be Robert Smith or Mark E. Smith?


"Silver seemed torn out of a Buffalo Springfield songbook" (Melody Maker)

"This is a song me and Kim wrote really fast one night sitting around bored in the studio waiting for whatever to happen with the engineers. There were other lyrics that were supposed to have been written for the actual song but all we'd got left were the original phrases that we came up with so that was that." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"Something Against You allowed the electric guitar to be used as a medium for Black's voice" (Record Collector)


"A tale about Jeffrey, who sat on a carpet with pallet in hand, took up the chase. What he's chasing he's anyone's guess." (Melody Maker)


"We only wanted to make a B-side out of it, but as it sounded good..." (BF)


"An old song, that I wrote for a girl who afterwards became my girlfriend. She didn't know it was for her, but I think she had some doubts. This is a very aggressive song" (BF)

About the Boston scene in the 80s (guess)

"It's a distorted boy meets girl paean, with Charles looking handsome, the girl looking erotic and both dressed in black by the light of the moon. 'You know where you are when you're groping for luna,' Charles concludes in a voice that sounds like a garbled railway station announcement." (Melody Maker)


"The LP was going to be called Gigantic, after Kim's big, big love show-stopper, but the sleeve featured a naked flamenco dance with large breasts and it was feared people might get the wrong idea, or the right idea." (Melody Maker)


"Tame was a classic exercise in creating dynamics in the most obvious way. Have the guitars drop out, vocals over the top of bass and drums and then loud guitars. Hey, who'd have thought of that?" (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)

"I don't want to sound like a male chauvinist, but I have a male perspective, because I am male. Tame is about women more than men. But the way some men treat their hair it's incredible and I can['t] understand all that deodorant and stuff. I've never related to it. My family's rather spartan. It's about putting all that time into sexual presentation. I don't mean it in a dirty kind of way. Where I live in the city, women spend time presenting themselves and still come out forever bland and mediocre." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"There's nothing to this apart from that one line. It's the hook right? It's the chorus. I could have written a verse but it sounded cool without the lyrics so it's much more effective and theatrical. These are just popular phrases I would associate with having a gun, 'Looka me' because it's a position of power. I don't own a gun, I'm afraid of them. People keep asking me is this some sort of phallic symbol, you know There goes my gun, an orgasm. I mean I suppose that could be true but I get the impression that in the literary world anything that is taller than it is wide is a phallic, you know what I mean? I'm just talking about guns I guess. I just want to make a cool rock 'n' roll song." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"14 lines, as in a Shakespeare sonnet!" (BF)

"Already he has written two songs about Billy Goodman's show: The Thing and The Happening." (NME)


About a BF's former roommate (as Crackity Jones)

"There was the brief comic book heroism of Tony's Theme" (Record Collector)


BF presented it as a phrase the Pixies manager often used, he could hardly figure out what it meant, but found it sounded good.

Trompe le monde litterally means "fool the world" and could easily be interpreted as "fool everybody". Actually, it looks like two phrases which exist in French, in which they are used as substantives:

  • A "trompe-la-mort" ("fool the death") is somebody who often risks his life, e.g. a stuntman
  • A "trompe-l'oeil" ("fool the eye") is a paint which looks like reality when seen far enough.

This second phrase is certainly the real reason for this strange name. This would explain while there are eyeballs on the cover design! BF decided to make the musical equivalent of a trompe-l'oeil: you have an album with an obscure "French" name, whose cover depicts fake eyeballs on a fake snow. Is this a concept album about French aliens (French name, Alec Eiffel, space Eiffel tower motives)?
Is there any concept behind this album, or is it just another joke, a "fool-everybody"?

This has been confirmed by an issue of Melody Maker I recently found: " The LP's title comes from a play on the French phrase trompe l'oeil - a painting technique designed to make the viewer think objects represented are real. "


"What might be a swipe on the school system, where communism and capitalism and 'stupid stuff' are points of instruction, but life isn't" (Melody Maker)

"That's probably me trying to be Joe Strummer. The lyrics are kind of a thumbs-down commentary about yound people in a University atmosphere." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)


"'Vamos' and 'Isla De Encanta' painted pictures of poverty and perversion which could be pinned down to Black's time on the streets of Porta Rico" (Record Collector)


"A space girl who could come from Bowie's world, a friend of Ziggy Stardust. "Velours" with an "a" at the end sounds like "Victoria"" (reference to the song by The Kinks) (BF)

"At a Black Francis solo gig at McCabe's circa '91, he introduced "Velouria" by saying it was about a woman who lived in a mountain (or something similar). Mt. Shasta is located in Northern California ("I know she's here / in California / I can see the tears / of Shasta sheen"). "Shasta sheen" could be how the mountain looks in the sunlight when it is covered in snow. Or when it's covered in Velouria's tears." (reported by Ryan E. Vincent)

"That was My Victoria, pretty good, but The Kinks song...I don't know it's gotta be a good song to get away with it. But when I found "Velouria", it sounded great." (Black Francis in a Q article)

"I had to rewrite that lyric several times. It was just too cryptic. Too 'Dungeons & Dragons'. I guess it's harking back to Billy Goodman (cf. The Happening). In California, there's this thing about the Lemurians, the sister people to the Atlanteans, whose civilisation sank and they all took off in boats and went to live in Mount Shasta in California. I just thought it was great. Velouria; the sci-fi girl. A love song about time travel." (BF in NME)

"Kind of a love song, but a lot of the content comes from the Rosicrucians. They believe in a lost continent called Lemuria. That sank and now the inhabitants are meant to live below Mount Shasta in California." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)


"This is a song about nothing" (BF in a concert)

"I just thought that I'd let you know about something that I heard. I'm not sure if it's true, but a friend said that Black Francis wrote Wave of Mutilation after hearing that Charles Manson was writing songs for the Beach Boys. Black Francis wrote this thinking it might be something that Manson would have wrote....or something." (reported by SadPunk2)

"The million pounds of sludge killing men in the sea. Charles himself gets sucked into the Ocean on Wave Of Mutilation.
'I guess I've always lived kind of near the ocean. I never got to live for too long in one place, but I like oceans in general. I think the oceans are an inspiration for anybody. It's the other part of the earth. There's land and then there's the ocean, and it's even bigger. There's nothing in there man, but it's just a big blank space. Kind of scary too, for everybody, even for people that aren't afraid to die in it, like the captain of the ship. The watery deaths and everything that lives there, food, fish and animals. Just amazing stuff.'" (Alternative Press citing BF)

"People would listen to something like Wave Of Mutilation and think, 'Oh yeah, murder, crucifixion, extermination', but it was really just a song about sea currents and nice animals. It was nothing to do with cutting throats." (BF in Melody Maker)

"Wave Of Mutilation attempted to intertwine The Beach Boys with Charlie Manson" (Melody Maker)

"The first verse is about the phenomenon where Japanese businessmen were putting their whole family in the car and driving off the dock. The second verse features the Marianas Trench. The only Pixies song I've played as a solo guy." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)

"Mostly I try to stick with more physical imagery just because it's more tangible mentally than he or she or it, like 'Little Red Corvette'." The first line is a joke on The Beach Boys and Charles Manson. They hung out together and all that. And he wrote this song called 'Cease To Exist.' And supposedly The Beach Boys used a lot of his lyrics and gave him a sports car or something. And they had this boys loved girl song where they went 'cease to resist' and changed his lyrics around. They couldn't have 'cease to exist' because it was all powerful suicide stuff! He's just some glorified charismatic figure like Hitler. But he does say some interesting things, he's a result of something but I don't know what." (Black Francis in the NME, April 1989)


"I believe that the lyrics for Weird at My School should be I took his plane to Columbia, So I could sell at my school, not sail. I've always interpreted this line as the rich kid using his dad's plane to get drugs from Columbia and then deal them (sell 'em) at his school. (Basically, the narrator is this screwed up kid at a Catholic boarding school who sells drugs.)" (reported by Rhys Henry Mason)

"That's a composite of other people's stories. For some reason all the songs I did are from different details of other people's stories. One of the most interesting stories was a couple of kids in high school, real rich kids. Their dad had a plane. They fucking flew the plane to Columbia. They loaded up the plane, they flew there and back.They were 16. I didn't go. I wish my youth was that exciting." (BF in Alternative Press)


"That came from me snorkelling in the Caribbean and having this very small fish trying to chase me. I don't know why - I don't know too much about fish behaviour." (Frank Black in SELECT, October 1997)


"Continuing the Pixies' fascination with the Beatles' 'White Album'" (Record Collector)


"I would never be able to write songs as Neil Young does, but they are perfect to cover" (BF)

"It's one of my favorite Neil Young songs. It's like an Everly Brothers song. It's really 50's. He doesn't play it 50's, he plays it really slow, country, twangy. But we sped it up a little bit and we took out his guitar parts and added Pixies style guitar, but we kept it basically the same and kept it a good pop song, because that's what it was really. We're pretty proud of it. It sounds better than anything we've ever done, which is a shame because we didn't write it." (BF in Alternative Press)

"An obscure Neil Young cut found on his 70's triple album collection 'Decade'" (Record Collector)

Last Updated 05-24-2004