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 #243: Gigantic by The Pixies.
The Pixies formed in the mid-1980s and are generally regarded as one of the most successful and influential Alternative music acts of all-time. The original group was comprised of singer/guitarist, Black Francis, guitarist, Joey Santiago, bassist, Kim Deal and drummer, Dave Lovering. The Pixies began playing around Boston, around the same time as other bands such as Dinosaur Jr. were making a name for themselves at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. Over the course of their career, The Pixies have sold tens of millions of albums, have achieved multiple Gold record awards but, perhaps, most importantly of all, they are heralded as being major influences of several of the biggest bands of the last 30 years, Nirvana and Radiohead.
The Pixies hit list started with today’s song, “Gigantic” but, also includes gems such as “Nimrod’s Son”, “Caribou”, “Bone Machine”, “The Holiday Song”, “Here Comes Your Man”, “This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven”, “Where is my Mind?”, “Debaser”, “Alec Eiffel” and many more. When The Pixies were first signed to a recording contract, they released an EP called, “Come on Pilgrim”. Despite having songs such as “Caribou”, “The Holiday Song” and “Nimrod’s Son” on the EP, it did not sell well. However, like much of what comprises their musical catalogue, the EP caught the attention of people in the music industry. Soon a full-length album was released. It was called, “Surfer Rosa” and was produced my a man named Steve Albini (who would be specifically brought in by “Nirvana” to produce their final album, “In Utero” because of his work with “The Pixies”). In any case, “Gigantic” was the only single from “Surfer Rosa” to be officially released. It did not chart well, either but, has gone on to be one of those songs that becomes a fan favourite and becomes known by reputation, more than commercial, Pop success.
Most songs recorded by The Pixies were written by Black Francis but, “Gigantic” was co-written by Francis and bassist, Kim Deal. Deal brought a female sensibility to this song, which is based upon a movie called “Crimes of the Heart” (which earned an Academy Award for Sissy Spacek) and involves an inter-racial sexual encounter between Spacek’s character and a black teenage boy. Deal insists that the term, “Gigantic” has nothing to do with anyone’s anatomy but, not many people believe her when she says this. Regardless, “Gigantic” was the song that officially put The Pixies on the mainstream musical map.
Eventually, Kim Deal sought to have more input into the writing of the songs that the band was recording and was denied. This friction between Deal and Francis eventually lead to Deal leaving the group. She landed on her feet; joining her sister, Kelly and a lady named Tanya Donnelly (from a group called, “Throwing Muses”) to form a new group called The Breeders. The Breeders had a major Alternative hit called “Cannonball” (which we have already covered earlier in this countdown. You can read that post, here).
One of the things that helped to characterize The Pixies is the musical structure they employ. Many of their songs alternate between louder and quieter sections. This musical trademark could be clearly seen in the early work of many bands who followed in their wake such as, Nirvana and Radiohead. In “Gigantic”, you will note the same structure exists.
So, without further delay, here is “Gigantic”, the first single from the debut, full-length album, “Surfer Rosa”, that helped change the course of Alternative music. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Gigantic” by The Pixies, can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Pixies, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for helping to inspire the writing of this post. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.