Catfish Kate

Album: Beneath The Eyrie (2019)

Songfacts®:

  • In this song fable, a woman named Kate goes fishing at a rather dangerous river where she is attacked by a catfish, who drags her under. They tussle, and Kate emerges victorious, wearing the catfish as a robe. From that day forward, she is known as "Catfish Kate." The story is told from the perspective of a guy named Black Jack Hooligan.

    In a Songfacts interview with Black Francis (Frank Black) of the Pixies, he explained where the story came from. "When I was a kid, our father used to tell stories to my brother and me," he said. "Some of them were made up on the spot, some of them were stories that he may have heard when he was younger, but they were all around this character called Black Jack Hooligan. He was from Scotland, sort of lived a ruffian lifestyle, traveled around the world, probably in the 1800s, a lot of times in the American west - the mountains of modern day South Dakota - sailing a ship somewhere. And he had a girlfriend - her name is Catfish Kate. There is one story about Catfish Kate which sort of tells how she got her nickname. That was where I took the lyric from - it's from that story. I just kind of retold the story, basically."
  • In this song, Black Jack Hooligan comes all the way from Aberdeen, which happens to be the city in Washington where Nirvana formed. Perhaps Black Francis was paying tribute to the band (which revered the Pixies), or he needed a rhyme for "go-betweens."
  • This was released as a single from the seventh Pixies album, Beneath The Eyrie. An animated video by Neirin Best and Lianne Pierce was made to accompany the song.
  • Black Francis admitted to ABC Radio that he was apprehensive about this being released as the album's lead single. "I didn't know how this was going to grab everyone," he said.

    "This story about this woman who has this great battle with a catfish under the water in South Dakota or someplace in the 1850s or whatever, that's the story, really, for your rock n' roll number?" he continued. "So I was a little sheepish."

Comments: 3

  • Shannon from Pasadena, Ca Or if it's taking place in South Dakota, he could be referring to the city of Aberdeen that's located in that state.
  • Steve from Keene, NhI would agree with Twilko. Scottish city.

    The song does have a nice sort of Australian vibe. Like the drowning in Waltzing Matilda thing going on.
  • Twilko from OsakaSeeing as the Black Jack Hooligan character is Scottish, it seems more likely that he is from Aberdeen in Scotland than Aberdeen in Washington.
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