Bone Machine

Album: Surfer Rosa (1988)
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Songfacts®:

  • Three different storylines are at play in this song. In our interview with Pixies frontman Frank Black, he explained the inspirations:

    "Girlfriend. Unfaithfulness. Creepy pastor whose intentions I later questioned. In that order."
  • This is the first track on Surfer Rosa, the follow-up to the Pixies debut EP Come On Pilgrim. Music critics shouted its praises:

    "It assures itself of its own genius."
    -Sounds

    "A ruddy huge jukebox of fun and games for all the one-parent families and mental immigrants down your street."
    -Melody Maker

    Despite such critical adulation, the album sold poorly; perhaps lyrics like this song's "Our love is rice and beans and horses' lard" turn off some listeners.
  • Frank Black once described the "bone machine" as "the hips of a woman." Much of it was inspired by his time in Southern California, where he lived for about 12 years.
  • Black is the sole songwriter on every Surfer Rosa track except for "Gigantic," which is also credited to Pixies bass player Kim Deal. Many of the titles are rather agressive, notably "Break My Body" and "Broken Face." Pixies shied away from tales about traditional relationships.
  • Tom Waits named his 1992 album Bone Machine. It's not clear if he named it after this song, as Waits is notoriously reclusive and hasn't said.

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