This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #71: Where Is MY Mind? by The Pixies.
As we have stated many times before throughout this countdown, there are many reasons why a song becomes elevated from the ranks of those songs that are merely “good” and ascends to the ranks of those regarded with fondness as being among the best of all-time. For “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies, good fortune smiled upon this song….which was a good, solid song from their debut album, “Surfer Rosa”….when it was chosen to play over the iconic closing scene of the movie, “Fight Club”. Why this mattered is the subject of this post today. But first, let’s begin with the song, itself.
As mentioned, “Where Is My Mind?” was the final cut on The Pixies debut album, “Surfer Rosa”. It is a song that was inspired by an experience lead singer, Black Francis had while swimming in the Caribbean. In that incident, Francis was swimming and was amazed at how bold/friendly the aquatic life was in the water and how fish and other sea creatures kept coming up to him and interacting with him. At the time, Francis claims to have been unsettled by the experience because he was unprepared, mentally, for having to co-exist with living creatures when all he wanted was to be alone, under the warm water. His quest for calmness turned into a banquet of life and activity.
On the surface, there is really not much of a song story there. But, just the same, Black Francis and his bandmates turned that experience into a song that speaks to the mental state of one who wishes for one sort of life style but, instead, is confronted with something entirely different. The song did not chart all that well at the time of its release as part of the album (it never was released as a single on its own). But, like many songs by The pixies, “Where Is My Mind?” took on a life of its own and became an in-concert favourite among fans and a staple of all of their live shows.
That would have been it for this song…..and the band and their fans would have been ok, if that had been it but, it wasn’t. Along came the producers of the movie, “Fight Club” who asked if they could use the song in their movie. The Pixies agreed. This changed everything for “Where Is My Mind?”
For those unaware, the movie “Fight Club” is a bit of a different kind of movie. In order to avoid any spoiler alert-type situations, just let me say that “Fight Club” is not really about fighting at all. I say this in the same way that I would state that the “Harry Potter” movies are not about witchcraft, either. Sometimes, a producer/writer uses a concept or vehicle to centre the movie when, in fact, the higher ideals being expressed are entirely different. That is the case with “Fight Club”. At its core, “Fight Club” was about how one character interacted with his world and, even more, how he saw his world in the first place. The closing scene encapsulates a sense of rebirth for this character in how his world will be moving forward. The “re-birth” scene is generally regarded as being one of the most memorable in Hollywood history. It was this scene that was soundtracked by The Pixies’, “Where Is My Mind?”. Because both, the song and, the movie, dealt with the inner working s of the protagonist’s mind, they meshed perfectly on-screen. When “Fight Club” was released, it was considered to be a controversial and polarizing movie. Many couldn’t get past the fighting and violence that formed much of the interior of the film. Those who did see the fighting as a metaphor for a larger statement on life and on society, hailed the movie as having made an important societal statement and thus, the movie was highly respected. Within that camp, the role played by “Where Is My Mind?” contributed to the overall importance of “Fight Club” and, as such, new life was breathed into it as a stand-alone song. Sales of “Surfer Rosa” soared and the song charted almost two full decades after its release.
It just goes to show you that, sometimes a song is just a song about fish nibbling at your toes and, at other times, that same song becomes a statement about finding calmness in a busy, noisy, consumeristic world. For the videos, I will play a live performance by The Pixies, themselves, since it is their song. But, I will, also, share the video for how the song was used in the movie. Naturally, if you haven’t watched “Fight Club” and think that you may then, you probably shouldn’t watch this clip as it will show the closing scene and I would hate to be responsible for spoiling the movie for anyone. So, proceed accordingly. If you want one or both videos, I hope that enjoyment is the order of the day for you. Bye for now.
The link to the video for the song, “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies, can be found here.
The link to the video for how the song, “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies was used in the movie, “Fight Club”, can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Pixies, can be found here.
The link to the official movie trailer for “Fight Club” can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for supporting thought-provoking artists and bands in all genres. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.