One of the Pixies’ biggest hits was inspired by businessmen who took their families to the ocean
Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation” is a song with a weird, mysterious, downright Murakami-esque story. First released in 1989, the song describes a phenomenon that was neither rare at the time, nor unprecedented. However, few recording artists bring such a reportage spirit to their music.
Waves of meaning and myth-making permeate their timeless classic
“Wave of Mutilation,” a grunge surf song about El Niño and crumbling Japanese businessmen chasing jetties into the sea with all their families strapped in the backseat, ”The Independent said. Brilliant artists have had contact with the subject, including Queen, who wrote “Don’t Try Suicide”.
But none have explored suicide with the depth and humanity of the Pixies. Exploring is taking risks, and as we’ll see, Pixies are quite risk tolerant. The reason for this should be pretty obvious, a tradition of suicide is an unlikely theme for any band hoping to sell records.
While the Japanese tradition may seem shocking to Western listeners, there are things about Western traditions that would shock the senses of those in the East. Nonetheless, Pixies fans appreciate the group’s commitment to producing a body of work that serves not only to entertain the listener, but also to inform future researchers.
The wave of tradition leads to mutilation
If we fail to understand the role of tradition, we fail to understand the true meaning. “In Japan, killing children out of domestic desperation is not considered a crime; traditionally this has been seen as an honorable thing to do.
Indeed, each rising wave of mutilation is a tragedy in itself. The song also forces us to consider the potential role of tradition in our own lives. Is there no analogy to such a ritual sacrifice? While BuzzFeed called the song disturbing, and let’s admit it is, there’s a second silver lining here.
Just as the Pixies raised awareness of the seemingly controversial Japanese lore, the suicide rate in Japan began to decline, according to Our World in Data. This is not meant to show causation, but to describe a way in which ideas might spread through music, and possibly change things for the better. After all, why sing any other way?
Pixies have a huge catalog with deep meaning
Their 1989 song “Here Comes Your Man,” which audiences have listened to nearly 120,000,000 times on Spotify alone, provides a glimpse into the band’s early work. The song was written by frontman Black Francis as a teenager. The song seems to be inspired by the ominous calm that often precedes a storm.
The Pixies, who have sold over sixty million albums worldwide, also found success in the UK with “Velouria”, the group’s first top 40 hit in that country. In “Velouria”, the group delves into Rosicrucian folklore. The song vibrates with limitless optimism and ever-green lyrics. In fact, the song was so popular that Weezer covered it almost a decade after it was first released.
The Pixies are not partisans of the arcane, nor of the banal. They have repeatedly taken the tortured path of the poet through complex emotions, anxieties and cultural traditions.
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