Thursday, November 22, 2007

Doolittle (1989)

This is where I got well and truly on board with the Pixies' grand experiment in sound and rhythm. In retrospect, I think the friction between Black Francis and Mrs. John Murphy, here on the verge of boiling over into caustic and permanent damage to the band, probably made them better—certainly their ensuing solo and elsewise wandering afield careers show that the Pixies are vastly more than the sum of their parts, and it's a shame that everything after this was inferior to what came before. (Although, n.b., everything with the Pixies name attached is worthwhile and then some.) This is my favorite, and to put a point on it, I think "Monkey Gone to Heaven" is where everything comes together in a glorious and eternal 2:56 that stands up to repeated play and endless analysis, stoned or otherwise. Consider the deceptively nonsense lyrics of the final verse and chorus (aka "searing climax"): "if man is 5 (3x) / then the devil is 6 (5x) / then god is 7 (3x) / this monkey's gone to heaven." You can't overthink this, it just keeps deepening and deepening into itself, with man represented by the digits of one hand, the devil by the ancient lore of the number 6 (particularly when 3x, of course, but here presented 5x, effectively echoing the number of man), god by the same, viz., the number 7 (rhymes with heaven), in symmetrical relation 3x to man, underlined by a host of unholy shrieking. Then the monkey appears. The strings throughout are very nice too. This is amazing stuff.