Song Spotlight: Pixies, “Daniel Boone”

I’ve talked a bit about the surprisingly good newest Pixies record, Beneath the Eyrie.

“Daniel Boone” is the penultimate track on the record, and is really the big finish. 4AD head honcho Ivo Watts-Russell nearly didn’t sign Pixies way back when, believing they were too “rock” for the label; but this gauzy, ethereal number would have fit right into the label’s classic aesthetic.

Aside from being uncharacteristically no-qualifiers lovely musically, it’s also surprisingly emotionally simple and direct; somewhat unusual coming from a songwriter who frequently tends toward odd subject matter in his lyrics. The song makes me cry anyway from sheer sonics, but the words color in a shade of hopeful melancholy I’m powerless against.

Black Francis has said the song originated during recording sessions when he was driving from the studio late at night, and encountered a deer on the road. He idly thought that if things had gone just a little differently, he could have hit the deer, and been killed in the ensuing accident. (He was also apparently recently divorced from the mother of his kids, which adds some emotional context for me.)

Last night I was driving around,
Nothing to do, thinking of you
I sighted here on the bend,
Reindeer and then it was through

And I floated toward the moon,
And I noted from on high
That the Lord Howe reef
Looks like Daniel Boone,
And he was showing me his smile

That’s a picture of Lord Howe reef in the header – I suppose if you flip it upside-down, maybe it looks a little like a face and coonskin cap.

But the image isn’t really the point.

Francis seems to me to be saying, without saying, “It may seem dark, but everything’s gonna be all right.”

On a cosmic scale nothing “means” anything: but we can imbue meaning to the world, and THAT is beautiful. An Australian reef seen from space that is also a smiling American pioneer: it’s like a koan, cloaked in a little playful pareidolia.

What’re some songs that have knocked you over lately, and why?