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songs you don’t know: “Alec Eiffel”, The Pixies

02 Oct

Okay, you probably know this song, seeing as how the “target demographic” of this blog is my shiftless gang of Gen Y urban nerd/hipster/slacker friends who hail from Greater Boston. This is also the description of the typical Pixies fan, so there’s a bit of a Venn Diagram overlap betwixt the two groups.

However, you might not have seen the video. One of these days, I’m going to sit down and write up my top 20 favorite music videos of all time, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that half of them are going to be by artists who famously hated making videos. The Pixies were one such group. “Alec Eiffel” was actually the last promo video they made willingly – the video for “Head On” was cobbled together from three different cameras during a live gig. Then they imploded and became the stuff of legend.

This is my second favorite Pixies song of all time, and my favorite video by the group. It’s endearingly nerd/cool, with equations and super-1990 shades on all the members. The use of light and smoke is killer, and for once, the rock video cliches of “shoot the band in a wind tunnel” and “use lots of smoke machines” actually make sense. The song is about Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the gentleman who brought you the Eiffel Tower, defying aerodynamics by building a structure impervious to wind.

In a way, it’s fitting that this is the last Pixies video. The Pixies may have broken up in a particularly angsty and hateful manner, but they created a sound and a legacy that still sounds futuristic and sturdy. Much like Le Tour Eiffel, it still stands on its own.

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