In 1993, when I was 25 years old, I decided to move from eastern Canada to San Diego, California. I was already an American born dude living in The Great White North, so getting across the border was easy as waving my Social Security Card and American passport in the faces of whoever at Toronto International Airport was responsible for such things. Thinking back I really cannot remember the circumstances that precipitated me making such a drastic, life altering move. But I did, and that’s that. I had saved up about $2,000 American buckaroos and left Canada with a duffle bag full of clothes and a duffle bag of CD’s. Nothing more. No job, no car, and nothing but a couch to sleep on (my sister was already there, a student at San Diego State University). Long story short, I took a bus to the local daily newspaper, applied for a job, got a job, got my own 400 sqft studio apartment in East San Diego, bought a car and worked my way up the ladder. Met my wife, had kids, and moved to Northern California where I’ve been ever since.
The above has nothing to do with music, but it should give some context to where my head was at way back then. The first thing I did when I arrived in San Diego was buy a 12 pack of beer at a gas station. This was a HUGE deal, as in Canada you could only buy alcohol at specific, government sanctioned locations (the amusingly titled “Beer Store”, and a liquor outlet). The second thing I did was go eat at a real, authentic Mexican restaurant. I remember driving miles and miles to eat at a Taco Bell in Hamilton, Ontario, and thinking “Finally!” Sounds ridiculous, right? The third thing I did was visit a Tower Records, where I bought 2 CD’s: Pork Soda by Primus and Doolittle by The Pixies. Out of those 2, the Pixies spent the most time in rotation, where Pork Soda rarely saw the light of day after a couple of initial plays.
Doolittle was, and remains, a strange album. Full of sweet melodies that sounded like the aural equivalent of So Cal (especially Wave Of Mutilation) even though the band hailed from Boston, and hardcore theatrics (courtesy of the maniacal Black Francis); in other words the perfect combination. This was the soundtrack to my new life, but somewhere along the lines I moved on and forgot about the brilliance of this band for a while. I have been playing the Pixies, and Doolittle in particular, for the last 2 weeks and it not only brings me back to that unsure, frightening wonderful time back in the early ‘90’s but it has rekindled my admiration for what this band meant not only to me but a thousand bands. The Pixies are The Velvet Underground of my generation. Their sound was co-opted by Nirvana, of course, and spawned the heinous grunge movement, but also revitalized a flailing music industry when it needed it the most. No Pixies, no Green Day and no ‘alternative revolution’ and mainstream acceptance. They were, unfortunately, not able to capitalize on the movement they created, of course, and that’s kind of a shame and kind of not. It cemented their legacy as one of the coolest bands on the planet, in my opinion. The late ‘80’s were sort of a dismal time for music in general, and the Pixies made a huge difference.
They imploded, of course, but their albums still sound incredibly weird and wonderful, even now that their sound has been sort of accepted as ‘the norm’ by so many bands. If you haven’t picked up a Pixies album in a while then I would recommend dusting off that old copy of Surfer Rosa, or Doolittle, or whichever is your preference and give it a spin. They still sound revolutionary.