Songs I can’t get enough of #8: “Debaser” – The Pixies

I love the Pixies…and the other night at the bar, my buddy John and I were drinking…and pumping the jukebox full of dollars and playing Pixies’ songs. Sound like a good night? You bet you sweet sassy ass.  Since that night out, I’ve been on quite a Pixies kick, so we’re going to talk about one of my favorite songs: “Debaser”.

Take a little off the top…

What does “Debaser” have to do with slicing eyeballs? Let’s cut to the chase…

Got me a movie
I want you to know
Slicing up eyeballs
I want you to know
Girly so groovy
I want you to know
Don’t know about you
But I am un chien andalusia

Want to grow
Up to be
Be a debaser, debaser

Got me a movie
Ha ha ha ho
Slicing up eyeballs
Ha ha ha ho
Girly so groovie
Ha ha ha ho
Don’t know about you
But I am un chien andalusia


I love this fucking song…so let’s dig deeper.

Un Chien Andalou is a sixteen minute silent surrealist short film produced in France by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. (Check it out here) According to Wikipedia:

“In spite of varying interpretations made since the film originated, Buñuel made clear throughout his writings that, between Dalí and himself, the only rule for the writing of the script was that “no idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted.” Moreover, he stated that, “Nothing, in the film, symbolizes anything. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis.”

It’s interesting because while watching the movie, you can’t but help to try and piece it together…try to make links where there are no links.  Avant-garde…opposed to mainstream culture…pushing the boundaries…using unorthodox or experimental methods to create art. Roger Ebert said of Un Chien Andalou:

“Un Chien Andalou” is a curtain-raiser: In a way, he was never unfaithful to it. A movie like this is a tonic. It assaults old and unconscious habits of moviegoing. It is disturbing, frustrating, maddening. It seems without purpose (and yet how much purpose, really, is there in seeing most of the movies we attend?). There is wry humor in it, and a cheerful willingness to offend. Most members of today’s audiences are not offended, and maybe that means the surrealists won their revolution: They demonstrated that art (and life) need not follow obediently within narrow restrictions that have been decreed since time immemorial. And that in a film that is alive and not mummified by convention, you never know what you might see when you look out the window.”

Ebert seems frustrated and yet impressed at the same time with Un Chien Andalou. He realizes that it is a movie that doesn’t follow the rules of moviegoing, and that it seems without purpose. But in saying that he realizes that most movies don’t have a purpose. So what is the difference? One is art, the other is mainstream. Un Chien Andalou is a movie that pushes the boundaries of movie making in order to create art, while at the same time reducing the significance of most mainstream movies. It is a debaser.

Enter Black Francis.

“I wish Buñuel was still alive. He made this film about nothing in particular. The title itself is a nonsense. With my stupid, pseudo-scholar, naive, enthusiast, avant-garde-ish, amateurish way to watch Un chien andalou (twice), I thought: ‘Yeah, I will make a song about it.’ [He sings:] “Un chien andalou”… It sounds too French, so I will sing “un chien andalusia”, it sounds good, no?'”

Per Wikipedia (again, I know), “the title ‘Debaser’ references the fact that Un chien andalou debases morality and standards of art,” according to Black Francis. This is great…I love it…Black Francis, Frank Black, whatever you want to call him by, is spot on.  The movie degrades the significance of mainstream movie making, while expressing itself as a piece of art.

According to the lyrics of the “Debaser”, Black Francis wants to grow up to be a debaser…he even calls himself “un chien andalusia” in the song. Black Francis wants to debase the music industry of mainstream music that just churns out music without any meaning behind it…he hates it…he wants to be the music version of Un Chien Andalou. He hates style without substance…he hates the profit-steered motives of the industry, instead of true art. Black Francis and I are soul brothers.

…and this is why I can’t get enough of it.



About fuzzywuzzy

Music Addict

Posted on March 31, 2011, in Music, Songs I Can't Get Enough Of and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. And… and… Movie nerd interjection: if you enjoyed UN CHIEN ANDALOU, you might try THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY, which takes most of the same concepts to a 2 hour format in the 70’s.

    Cue NBC’s “The More You Know” graphic.

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