Borderline Latin: Pixies

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Borderline Latin is an exploration of the influence of Latin music in styles, places and rhythms beyond its traditional borders, and of different types of cross-pollination between Latin music and other musical creatures. Each week, we will feature a song or musical style whose rhythm, themes, melodic inflections or influences have earned it the name of Borderline Latin.

This borderline band is the stuff of pop culture legend. They are the forefathers of alternative rock; their hit song “Where is my Mind” became associated with apocalyptic images of the collapse of the urban world in the film Fight Club; they turned the extreme shifting of rhythm and tempo into an art, and made it their staple –they are the kings of mixing “loud and quiet.” Also the stuff of legend is the fact that a particular Enchanted Island played a significant role in the formation of this band.

Vocalist Black Francis and guitarist Joey Santiago met when they were in Massachusetts for college. They started listening to music together, and even playing music together, but it was not until Black Francis made a trip to Puerto Rico to study Spanish that the urge of forming a band became excruciating. While he attended the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, Francis’ roommate was a “weird, psycho” gay man who claimed he received strange messages from Pedro Picapiedra, a.k.a. Fred Flinstone –a tale that would later inspire the song “Crackity Jones.” Something about those months living in Puerto Rico prompted Francis to write a message to Joey Santiago saying it was time to stop wasting time and form a kickass band. After returning to Massachusetts, they dropped out of college, found bassist Kim Deal through an ad, invited drummer David Lovering over, and the Pixies were created.

Something about that trip to the Enchanted Island made a huge impression on Francis, because two of the Pixies’ first album’s songs feature lyrics in Spanish. Come On Pilgrim was released in 1987; from it, here’s “Vamos,” which talks about living in New Jersey and moving to California and stuff.

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