Monkey Gone to Heaven—if you know a Pixies song, this is probably it. It’s the only one I ever heard on the radio. Or maybe Where is My Mind?—the musical backdrop to Tyler Durden’s anarchist Project Mayhem explosions at the end of the movie Fight Club. You might know these, but not You F*cking Die. That’s a song for weirdos like me.
Today’s Song Lyric Sunday theme is breakup songs. Sure, I know a few. On my way to go mountain biking this morning, I listened to Joan Jett’s I Hate Myself for Loving You. That’s a good one. Lots of anger, guitars, metal, spite. I could write about that, or dozens of Taylor Swift songs, but no, today it’s the Pixies. It’s You F*cking Die.
Is it a breakup song? Is it even a song? You decide. Below are the lyrics—or maybe transcript is a more accurate description:
You f*cking die, I said…to her
I said you f*cking die…to her
huh? what? no no, I was talking to Kim.
I said you f*cking die…
…no, eh ah, we were just goofing around.
No no, it didn’t have anything to do with anything.
She said don’t touc…anybody touches my stuff,
and I said you f*cking die, like that,
I was finishing her part for her,
you know what I mean?
In 1994, I took a break from my life. Thirty-two years old, I quit my job, cancelled my apartment lease, stored all my belongings and rode my bicycle across the United States. I spent one hundred days, ambling south and then north with the general direction of west. I started in Washington, DC and ended in Seattle, Washington. Bookending the trip with Washingtons gave me a sense of completeness. And then I flew home to DC.
I no longer fit in. My group of friends—twenty-some people orbiting around a rented beach house each summer—morphed in my absence. A group of new people, friends of friends, bought summer-long shares in the house and through their influence, the vibe shifted. My girlfriend began dating one of the new guys. I’d grown accustomed to solitude, sleeping in a tent, became noncommunicative, introspective. Returning to my old life felt uncomfortable, constricting, frustrating. I broke a good thing; I was pissed.
I made a mix tape. For those of you who grew up in the digital age, who slap together a playlist in less than three minutes, and if something doesn’t work, you simply select a different song —let me tell you how things used to be. I spent hours sprawled on the floor in front of my stereo system, considering songs, playing bits of them one after another, looking for a perfect match. Creating transitions, pairing songs so naturally that now, twenty-five years later, they still seem to go together. With the time investment, real-time recordings of songs from tapes, CDs and records, you had to get it right the first time.
When I returned home from my bike trip, I created such a tape, I titled it Rage/Recovery. Side A, Rage, featured ninety minutes of hard-edged breakup songs, anger songs, hate songs. That Joan Jett song, PJ Harvey’s Snake; The Offspring’s Self Esteem, Possum Dixon’s Watch The Girl Destroy Me, on and on. Focused on the past. My ex-girlfriend, my tanked social life, my lack of employment. The Pixies You F*ucking Die was on this side.
Side B, Recovery, looked to the future. The music, more melodic, calmer, hopeful. Some pretty songs by Belly, funny songs by Green Day, upbeat songs by the Breeders. I knew things would improve. This tape was my breakup soundtrack—my breakup with my old life. Now when I think of breakup songs, that mix tape comes to mind.
Once, driving in my car with my friend Allie, You F*cking Die came on. She hit me with a side glance that said “You’re so transparent. I know exactly what you’re thinking.” Incidentally, the Pixies trajectory towards breaking up started on day-one. You F*cking Die appears on their first full length album, Surfer Rosa. It well illustrates the animosity between Black Francis and Kim Deal, the two leading members of the band. Possibly, You F*cking Die is the Pixies breakup song as well.
Listen to You F*cking Die and immediately after that, play Youth Against Fascism by Sonic Youth. I paired these songs together on my tape and I can’t think of a better mix tape transition I ever made. (Sorry, you need to really turn up the volume on the Pixies part).