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“It’s Impossible to Describe with Words How Sick I Am of Robert Christgau”


Sometimes things don’t make sense. Good weather follows bad people, like Califone said. People who bit** about their food keep their money, people who are easy going and blithely take what’s they’re given maintain limited means.

And I mean, Black Francis was kind of an a**hole, or a “Masshole,” to be more specific, as he hails from Boston (word is still pending on Robert Christgau’s opinion on this fact). According to their biography, his last words to Kim Deal after the group disbanded in ’91, when she inquired as to the length of the impending sabbatical, were “I believe a sabbatical is one year,” in a sarcastic tone and devoid of any closing pleasantry.

But for one thing, this hard, East Coast edge also could be partly responsible for the sentiment behind “Crackity Jones,” which according to that same book, Gigantic: The Story of Frank Black & the Pixies[1], was penned after Francis was studying abroad in Puerto Rico and this random town person would come into his house uninvited every day and just start talking. It’s what constructed the brusque, defiantly emphatic approach to songwriting his band took even on Come on Pilgrim, their first “EP,” which really possesses more than enough ideas to constitute an “LP,” and is indeed referred to as their “first album” by some parties, taking the tab “mini-LP” on Wikipedia [2].

I mean, there’s scientific stuff you could say about the Pixies. They coined the soft-loud verse-chorus dynamic that Kurt Cobain apparently admitted to “ripping off” for “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” They pared catchy, otherwise conventional choruses like “Wave of Mutilation” down to wacky, off-kilter six-beat meters that ended up refreshing the scene in their own way and even arguably giving birth to alternative rock.

But to view the Pixies’ catalogue from their initial period of ’87 to ’91 is to behold greatness.

No, check that. It’s better than “beholding greatness.” There’s nothing historical or cultural about it like some Smithsonian Institute exhibit — it’s music that’s alive and runs free, emanating into your subconscious and affirming the validity of that impression you had of a translucent arc of radiant light forming in the horizon.

Ok yeah, I’m just all hot that Christgau berated one of their albums (the fact of it being their first greatest hits spot Death to the Pixies seeming immaterial), or so I assuming he’s doing by assigning it an “N” per the album’s Wikipedia page. N. Now that means something. Not.

In other instances, he’s been known to offer such articulate clarity in his judgment of music as a little picture of a bomb, of equal descriptive prevalence to that little “N” letter. Now, I would hate to offend those parties out there who find his obtuse rating system either helpful or funny, but either way it’s almost obviously a means of drawing attention to himself and away from the music.

Has he written something that meaningful that he so easily lays claim to these eccentric, disorienting and frustrating scoring mechanisms, and can stand as a legitimate critical journal just by his name alone? Has he even published a single book? I mean the proclivity to judge and indolently assess is just a little bit palpable with him. So yes, ironically, I am defending Black Francis, proving unquestionably that the depths of human attrition know no boundaries.

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[1] I guess like Black Francis is his official fake name and Frank Black is his unofficial fake name, or something along those lines.

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[2] To me Steve Albini really threw a stick in the spokes of the Pixies’ career — he was such a prick when he’d talk about the album he produced and what was up with reusing “Vamos” for Surfer Rosa when nothing was wrong with the Come on Pilgrim version?

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