Song of the Week – Cannonball, The Breeders

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

A few weeks ago, I was with friends that asked the question “What was the best concert you ever saw?”  I’ve seen some very good ones; classic rock like Springsteen, The Kinks, Allman Brothers, and Zappa, through to the acts of this millennium including White Stripes, Arcade Fire, Real Estate, War on Drugs, Arctic Monkeys, and New Pornographers.  But one of my all-time favorite concerts was seeing Pixies at San Diego’s Street Scene in 2005.  Although it was the “reunited” Pixies, the band included all of the original members – even bassist Kim Deal.  They were a powerful group!

Today’s SotW is “Cannonball,” from The Breeders album Last Splash.

Why not something by Pixies?  Because I posted about “Debaser” in April 2018.  And “Gigantic,” written by Kim, was posted by Peter in 2013.  Besides, “Cannonball” is a very cool song and The Breeders are Deal’s other band.

Deal formed The Breeders when internal conflict with Pixies frontman Frank Black became untenable.  The first iteration of The Breeders included Tonya Donelly of Throwing Muses and Belly, Josephine Wiggs, and later, Deal’s twin sister Kelley.  By the time of Last Splash, Donelly was out and Jim Macpherson was in on drums.

Now, back to “Cannonball.”

“Cannonball” was chosen as #12 on Rollin­­g Stone’s 50 Best Songs of the 90s and was a substantial hit on modern rock radio.  It even reached #44 on Billboard’s Hot 100.  But it was one of the strangest, most unlikely hits to achieve that success.

It opens with Deal making a soundcheck (“Check check check, one-two, one-two”).  The next thing you know there’s a chant that sounds like the guards at the Wicked Witch’s castle in The Wizard of Oz.  A drum click track sets the rhythm for a bass line to start the song in earnest after stepping up in key.  The guitars join in and then there’s this weird screeching sound like an old fashioned, dial-up cable modem.  (You probably have to be at least 30+ years old to know what that means.)  The track utilizes the soft/loud dynamic that was a trademark of Pixies and there’s a false ending.  Then it throws us off by actually ending abruptly.

The lyrics are totally incomprehensible (at least to me) so I won’t even attempt to quote or interpret them.

Although Last Splash was The Breeders’ most successful album – it also included the terrific “Drivin on 9” – this configuration of the band had broken up before they could record a followup.  However, they are back together again and were touring earlier this summer.

Enjoy… until next week.

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