The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #296: Cannonball by The Breeders (KEXP)

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 #296: Cannonball by The Breeders.

Back in the 1980s, one of the biggest Alternative bands in the US was a band called, The Pixies. The Pixies were an all-male band, with one exception: on bass guitar was a woman named Kim Deal. The Pixies had many hits; most of which were written by frontman, Black Francis. However, Deal did write one of their biggest, most sexually-suggestive hits, “Gigantic”. Regardless of who wrote which song, “The Pixies” always featured a sound that was made better because of the excellent bass work played by Kim Deal.

But, Kim Deal always had higher ambitions than simply being the bassist in someone else’s band. On one of their tours, a band called Throwing Muses was the opening act for The Pixies. Kim Deal started becoming friends with the lead singer of Throwing Muses, a lady named Tanya Donnelly. They spoke of forming their own band one day and did so, when The Pixies went on hiatus. They were joined by Deal’s twin sister, Kelly, guitarist, Josephine Wiggs, as well as, drummer, Jim McPherson. Donnelly and Deal named their new band, The Breeders.

After recording some demo songs and shopping them around, they were signed to a contract and given $11,000 to record an entire album. That’s not a ton of money. But, somehow, they managed to get it done and released an album called, “Pod”. The raw, unpolished sound of “Pod” was hugely influential on new bands such as Nirvana and, as such, helped craft a sound and an attitude that helped shape the Grunge era that was about to explode.

The Breeders took a little more time and had a little more money to use for their second album, “Last Splash” in 1993. By this time, Alternative Rock and Grunge Rock were leading the way in the North American music scene. The Breeders released a song called, “Cannonball” that rode the momentum of a music movement, all the way to #1 and Platinum sales status. It is fair to say that “Cannonball” is one of the songs that helped define 90s music. By this time, Tanya Donnelly had left the band to return to Throwing Muses, leaving Kim Deal to be face of The Breeders. Not long after that, various band members faced addiction problems, of one sort or another, causing The Breeders to disband.

Despite their short time in the spotlight, The Breeders made a huge impact on the modern music scene. The same can be said for Kim Deal; bassist extraordinaire, writer of catchy song hooks and leader/member of bands that mattered. The music video for “Cannonball” was directed by creative genius, Spike Jonze. In this video, you can visually see how the band made some of the various unusual sounds featured in this song. “Cannonball” was named “Single of the Year” in 1993 in many major magazines and year-end polls. It is certainly, one of the most recognizable songs from the 1990s. When I listen to it today….almost 28 years later, it still sounds like the future of music to me. Without further delay, here are Kim Deal and The Breeders, with “Cannonball”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Cannonball” by The Breeders, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Gigantic” by The Pixies, can be found here.

The link to the official website for The Breeders can be found here.

Thanks to KEXP for always playing the most cutting edge music around. The link to their website can be found here.