You know how there are people out there who will list some of their favourite songs, only to miss the point completely? Hell, I do it, and I’ll probably do it a few times in this blog. But there are times when people will, say, use a song at their wedding, when it’s completely inappropriate. A good example of this is The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take‘. Sure, it could sound nice and romantic, but it’s sort of about a stalker. While not quite as bad, this brings us to the Pixies’ ‘Gigantic’.
While many fans of the Pixies, such as myself, have called this one of their best tracks, it was arguably the track that saw the band gain traction. It was their first single, and was responsible in the group hooking up with producer Gil Norton, who would produce their 1989 record Doolittle.
Notably though, the song’s meaning has been up for debate for quite a long time. See, bassist Kim Deal, who wrote and sings on the track, wrote it after watching the film Crimes Of The Heart, in which a married white woman falls in love with a black teenager. The song’s lyrics deal with the narrator’s obsession with having sex with a black man, which is how the track got its chorus and title. Though this is ‘officially’ not the real meaning.
See, the group’s vocalist and guitarist Black Francis has stated that the song isn’t inherently sexual, but rather named so for the ‘gigantic’ chord progression that the song has. The chord progression was reportedly very Lou Reed-esque to Francis, and he felt that it felt very large.
Now, that’s all well and good, but the most commonly accepted meaning of the song is the former. This was brought to the attention of the public when, in 2014, Apple started an ad campaign with the track featuring prominently.
Sure, many could argue that the song relates to the ad’s meaning by saying that Apple’s products will lead to ‘gigantic’ things, but that’s effectively the same as winking while denying it. Did Apple just miss the point, or have the Pixies been lying to us since 1988? I’m going to stick with the former, and enjoy this level of corporate obliviousness.