The Pixies: “Motorway to Roswell”
Hello, and welcome to Pixies Week here at Reselect.com! Or maybe I should be a little more specific and say, welcome to Trompe Le Monde Week! This Saturday (Oct. 8th) will mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the Pixies final — and possibly most underrated — studio album, 1991’s Trompe le Monde. Some might say that Bossanova is even more underrated, but since that one is my least favorite of their albums, I would have to disagree (although don’t get me wrong, it’s still an excellent album as well). An “underrated” album is one that is a significant number (x) times better than people typically give it credit for, and I just think Trompe le Monde‘s x factor is greater than Bossanova‘s. It has a lot more Black Francis/Frank Black on it than Kim Deal, which is really its only drawback — otherwise it’s one of the great albums of the ’90s.
So to pay tribute to the genius of the Pixies, I’m featuring only Pixies songs this week, and most of them will be coming from Trompe Le Monde. Truth be told, this is really just a good excuse to play lots of Pixies songs: I’ve been trying to decide which songs of theirs to post here, and just haven’t been able to narrow it down. So I hope you’ll enjoy either reliving your own Pixies fixation or discovering maybe for the first time what all the hubbub is about, why they are often credited with being so influential on the sound of later bands. Or even on their contemporaries — Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain was hugely influenced by the Pixies’ frequent “quiet-loud” song dynamic, which went on to shape Nirvana’s sound on Nevermind and beyond (Cobain once told Rolling Stone magazine that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was his attempt at “ripping off the Pixies”).
To kick things off, I’m selecting one of my favorites from Trompe le Monde: “Motorway to Roswell.” It’s a song that grows gradually bigger over the course of its 4+ minutes, and when the piano kicks in around 2 minutes in, it becomes a truly epic tale of an alien on a trip that ends badly (in Roswell, New Mexico’s Area 51, apparently). I love the way the song fades out on that piano — sends a shiver up my spine every time. Frank Black concentrated even more on his interest in aliens and sci-fi on his solo albums, but he never did it better than this.