Posted on November 10, 2015 by Trace

—  t u e s d a y  t u n e s  —
‘Where Is My Mind?’
a song by the American alternative rock band

Polaroid from the Pixies’ debut album”Surfer Rosa” shoot 1987.

The album has been called a “collection of odd, stream-of-consciousness lyrics” some in English,  some in Spanish.
About Old Testament violence,  incest,  mental illness, voyeurism,  all played out against a wall of sinewy guitars, stinging bass, and insistent drums that manage to be simultaneously abrasive and melodic.”

originalsurfer_rosa_1SR2_largeIconic album cover & sleeve photography by Simon Larbalestier  Above: Surfer Rosa #2 and [Middle] Surfer Rosa #1 Cover [Top] Surfer Rosa #3. Above images are © Simon Larbalestier.

How can a band express so many different musical styles and identities while still maintaining a signature sound? And how did it manage to put out one of the most beloved rock songs of the past quarter-century?

How did they come about ::

Let’s start with the central Pixie  —  Charles Michael Kitteridge Thompson IV — a.k.a Black Francis — a.k.a. Frank Black. (Yeah, that’s a lot of names – we’ll use the last one from now on). He grew up in both California and Boston, and eventually enrolled at the University of Massachusetts. According to his bio on FrankBlack.net, Black spent his freshman year “in a dorm where a computer randomly chose his roommates.
1984: Charles’ roommate, as determined by a bunch of sand and refined metals was none other than Joseph Alberto Santiago.”
These two college kids would go on to be the founding members of the Pixies.


Black decided to take a break from college and go to Puerto Rico instead. This turned out to be a pretty influential trip. For one thing, Black is well known for adding Spanish lyrics into Pixies songs. Upon returning from Puerto Rico, Black officially dropped out of college. Santiago did the same, and the two put out an ad for a bassist with the following requirements: must be female, and must like both underground post-punk band Hüsker Dü and melodic 1960s folk group Peter, Paul and Mary.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the ad only got one reply. It was from a young woman named Kim Deal, who ended up joining the group. She soon brought her friend Dave Lovering into the band as a drummer.


Frank Black on Where Is My Mind? ::

“I’ll tell you my ex-wife,  Jean Black,  when I wrote that song she was in the bathroom doing her make-up and I was in the other room composing. What happened was, she poked her head out of the bathroom and said, ‘That’s a good one. Finish that one.’ So I think that as an outside observer, she gave me the first indication anyway that there was something about that chord progression or whatever that seemed to resonate and I guess she was right. I get probably one request every couple of months for that song to be used in some way. I can’t explain it to you; I just think the song is likeable. Even though Kim barely sings on it, there’s something about her singing that little haunting two note riff. The same thing with Joey, he’s got a little two-note thing going on too. It’s so simple, and then there’s me in the middle singing the wacky cute little lyrics. So it’s kind of a quintessential Pixie song. It sort of displays everyone’s personalities are very strong. The song has something very likeable about it and I’m not sure what it is.”


Sadly, this account of Black’s creative process isn’t really going to help us become rock stars—but this quote is classic Black. The gist of many of his songwriting explanations is that he was experimenting, and just sort of came up with something that he thought was unusual and interesting, and then wrote a song. Sometimes he offers suggestions about why the song works, but they’re just suggestions, and he doesn’t force anyone to accept his interpretations. This can be both freeing and frustrating for information-hungry fans.

Despite the fact that “Where is My Mind?” is pretty listenable, the Pixies didn’t release the song as a single. As a result, the song never charted. However, the song has been covered a ridiculous number of times, by folk singers, indie bands, and electronic artists alike. It also appeared in the enormously popular 1999 movie ‘Fight Club’.

But… what does it mean?

There’s one widely reported fact about “Where is My Mind?” that we should mention here. It was partly inspired by a dive in Puerto Rico: apparently a little fish chased Black while he was in the water, and the experience stuck in his head. Beyond this, though, we don’t want to read into the lyrics too much. The fact is that a lot of Black-penned Pixies lyrics resist easy analysis.

Source :: Shmoop Editorial Team

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