Study Guide

Where Is My Mind? Introduction

Where Is My Mind? Introduction

In a Nutshell

Sometimes, in a genre of music, you can trace a whole bunch of famous, successful artists back to one band, whose unique style started it all. The Pixies is one of those bands. 

Alternative and indie rock wouldn't have been the same—or perhaps wouldn't have been at all—without them.

"Where Is My Mind?" is the most widely known of all Pixies tunes, despite the fact that it was never released as a single. The song's instant likeability makes it a standout on one of the most highly regarded, eclectic, and influential albums of modern rock history.

About the Song

ArtistPixies, The
Year1988
Label4AD
Writer(s)Frank Black (a.k.a. Black Francis, a.k.a. Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV)
Producer(s)Steve Albini
Musician(s)Frank Black (rhythm guitar and vocals), Kim Deal (a.k.a. Mrs. John Murphy, on bass and background vocals), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), David Lovering (drums)
Learn to playTablature, Chords
AlbumSurfer Rosa

Music Video

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Influences on Pixies, The

David Bowie
Iggy Pop
The Beatles
The Velvet Underground
Hüsker Dü
Peter, Paul, and Mary
Surf music
1970s punk music

Influenced by Pixies, The

When asked about the Pixies, bands love to make comments like these (reported on Slate.com):

"I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies."
—Kurt Cobain (Nirvana frontman)

"The quiet/loud dynamic that's dominated alternative radio for the last 14 years can be attributed to one and only one band, the Pixies."
—Dave Grohl (Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighter's frontman)

"The reason we don't use as much guitar now is there are only a handful of Pixies albums. You can't keep copying them."
—Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead guitarist)

Pretty much every alternative rock and indie band owes something to the Pixies. As Spin magazine put it in 2005, "So many bands have owed so much to Surfer Rosa over the past 17 years that it's hard to grasp how freaky and futuristic the album sounded in 1988." These artists include the likes of—along with Nirvana, Radiohead, and the Foo Fighters who were already mentioned—The Smashing Pumpkins, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Modest Mouse, Nada Surf, Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade, and tons of others. What we're getting at is that Pixies' influence has become so ingrained in the foundations of modern rock that extracting every bit of it would be, well, a lot of work. Suffice it to say they're really, really important.

Where Is My Mind? Resources

Books

Josh Frank, Fool the World: The Oral History of the Band Called Pixies (2006)
This collection of quotes tells the story of the Pixies through the words of the band members, record industry and music professionals who worked with the group, and later artists who were influenced by the band.

Alan Cross, The Pixies: The Alan Cross Guide (2009)
Cross, a well-known music writer, wrote and narrates this audiobook detailing the history of the Pixies.

Albums

Come On Pilgrim (1987)
This is the band's first release, created from the songs on a demo known as The Purple Tape.

Surfer Rosa (1988)
Here it is: the landmark rock album that "Where is My Mind?" was first released on.

Doolittle (1989)
Here's another classic Pixies album. Many fans and critics debate whether this or Surfer Rosa is the best Pixies record.

Bossanova (1990)
The Pixies tread a slightly different territory in this album full of surf rock riffs and references to outer space. That isn't to say that the rock, snarls, and punk influences aren't still readily apparent, but this is a Pixies album distinct from its predecessors.

Trompe le Monde (1991)
French for "Fool the World," the last Pixies album featuring all new material wasn't all that sneaky about hinting at the band's imminent break-up; Black nearly takes over the album's musical direction entirely while Kim Deal's presence is barely felt.

Images

The Pixies on water
An image of the band that may be in a boat, may be on shore, and is surely from their younger days.

Very artistic
Every band needs one of those "half of everyone's face looking serious in black and white" photos. This is the Pixies'.

The Pixies live
The band rocking out under huge images of themselves.

Pixies in the modern day
An amusingly under-dressed Frank Black is the focal point of this 2009 photo.

Movies & TV

Fight Club (1999)
As the movie comes to a chaotic, explosive end, "Where is My Mind?" lends a mood and message to the film that no other song could.

Websites

Pixies Website
This site is full of bios, tour dates, articles, news, and other neat Pixies-related things.

4AD
You can find a really interesting biography, and almost any Pixies release you could want, right here on the site of the band's U.K. label.

New York Times: "Three Bands Whose Rock is Their Own" (1988)
This article discusses the Pixies and two other bands just as they were starting to make a splash in the music world.

Slate.com: "Back to Black: The long-anticipated Pixies reunion" (2004)
When the band announced a reunion tour in 2004—eleven years after their breakup in 1993—fans and media got very excited. This article from April of the band's reunion year examines the Pixies closely on many levels, and is filled with interesting quotes from the band and the people they influenced.

IGN: "Pixies Interview" (2009)
After five years of Pixies togetherness, Frank Black talks with IGN about the band's activities since its reunion, as well as, yep, "Where is My Mind?".

Video & Audio

"Where is My Mind?", live in 1988
See the young Pixies do an awesome live version of the song in London.

Early audio interview
Hear the band, happy and youthful, discussing their lives and music backstage at an early concert. This is Part 1 of 2.

Kim Deal discusses the Pixies after their breakup
A very diplomatic Kim Deal discusses some of the tensions within the Pixies, especially dealing with her lack of vocal presence on Pixies albums and the role Frank Black played in that.

Frank Black interview
A laid-back Frank Black talks about the Pixies reunion, Swedish nightclubs named after a Pixies song, and the band's legendary status.

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