Pixies’ Doolittle turned 25 this past week, not that it much matters—I wasn’t around in 1989 to hear it. When I did, in seventh or eighth grade, it was in full view of Nirvana and Radiohead and all the others Doolittle had inspired, but it still seemed unlike anything that had come after it. It’s tough to think of another record that shaped my taste more up to that point.
I’ve long held that Daydream Nationand Doolittle—released a scant six months apart—are the two best rock records of the eighties. But whereas Daydream Nation plays like a sprawling and lengthy collection of guitarscapes, somehow fluid and of a single piece, Doolittle feels like a terse, scattershot, and frenetic collection of individual pop moments, all brief and fleeting and thrust together into one scary, funny, and brilliant rock record. The songs are brief, most clocking in well under 3:00, and full of the sort of tiny, triumphant bits that still make me grin like an idiot.
So here they are—my ten favorite individual moments of music on Doolittle.
1. The first seven seconds of “Debaser”. DUH-duh-duh-duh DUH-duh-duh-du DUH-duh-duh-duh DUH-duh-duh-duh.
2. When the drums drop out in “Debaser”. Entire second verse, maybe. When each line is punctuated by an increasingly manic “Aa-ha-ha-ho!”
3. The panting duet in “Tame”. Towards the end. Kim’s pants are soft, quiet. Black Francis snorts like a dog.
4. That build-up to the bridge in “I Bleed”. Starts around 1:33. Joey’s tuneless guitar stabs and Kim’s equally tuneless yelps: “Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh, oh, oh!”
5. The single guitar chord that opens “Here Comes Your Man”. It’s a dominant seventh sharp ninth chord. But who really cares what it is.
6.“Rock me, Joe.” No comment.
7. The way Black Francis’s voice cracks when it breaks into a scream on “Then God is seven!” on “Monkey Gone to Heaven”. And the way those cello notes undercut his screams.
8. The cackles at the beginning of “Mr. Grieves”. “Hope everything is alright, ahahah hee hee.”
9. “Hey”. Been trying to meet you. All of it. Whole song.
10. The pronunciation of “marijuana” in “Gouge Away”. “Some mar-weeh-waaaa-na—if you got some.”
// Notes from the Road
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