Album: Doolittle (1989)
Charted: 23
  • This weird and aggressive song was inspired by the cruel and surrealistic movie Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) by Spanish moviemaker Luis Bunuel. The song is about the movie "debasing" morality in the art world. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Gert - Leuven, Belgium
  • The reference to "Slicing up eyeballs" in the opening lyrics is to a shocking scene in Un Chien Andalou where an eyeball is being sliced open.
  • If the lyrics in this song don't make much sense, that's because Pixies frontman Frank Black was more concerned with the sounds of the words rather than their meanings. "It has more to do with rhyming words and getting things to mathematically fit in a nice way in my songs," he said. "I don't think about the words too much, I just come up with them, things that just pop into my head."
  • "Debaser" has many features of a Nirvana song (opens with a bass solo, start/stop rhythms, lurching and noisy guitar solo, and loud/soft dynamics). This is because the Pixies were one of Kurt Cobain's main influences. Cobain said that when writing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" he was trying to imitate "Debaser" musically and lyrically. The guitar riffs of the two songs are very similar.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "First World Problems" digs at trivial issues of the privileged class via a Pixies homage. The beginning of the song, featured on his 2014 Mandatory Fun album, is a nod to this song.

Comments: 7

  • John from Andover, KsWhatever the previous commenters think or say, this is one of the greatest examples of power pop ever created. Carrying the power of Husker Du with elements of other contemporaries, the Pixies really set the stage for Nirvana and their many impersonators. I'm always sad after hearing the first 2 minutes of this song because I know that it will be over soon. That's one of the greatest compliments I can give to a band.
  • Thomas from Hasselt, BelgiumCobain said that when writing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" he was trying to imitate Debaser musically and lyrically... thats NOT true, he was talking about gigantic !!
  • Dee from Boston, MaThe Pixies met and formed while students at UMASS Amherst. Frank Black wrote debaser after watching Un Chien Andalou in Film Studies Professor Don Levine's Avant Garde Film class. The Bunuel film is a staple in the long running course. Levine is famous among his students for giving away the endings and memorable momments in all of the class's films. It is rumored among the Film Studies Department at UMASS that debaser is actually about Levine being the debaser and spoiling all of the films including Un Chien Andalou and more specifically the slicing of the eyeball.
  • Wayne from Hudson, Fl1. I've seen the movie, I've read the lyrics, and I'm a huge-ass fan, thus I'm not talking out of my ass. 2. The song is about how Frank feels; he wants to be a debaser. Debaser obviously meaning someone who wants to debase things, or take the world apart. Somehow I think Frank was a little scatterbrained because, besides the few, obvious parts (slicing up eyeballs, I want you to know. Girly so groovy, I want you to know), Debaser has little connection to Un Chien Andalou. He probably wrote that part first and ran with it. Don't know about you, but I am Un Chien Andalusia is a curious statement. He actually sings the feminine version (Une Chienne Andalusia) (think I spelled that right.) Girly so groovy refers to the man in Un Chien Andalou's obsession with the woman. The woman represents lust by the way. And so, Frank wants to be a prototypical dog of a man, apparently. "I want you to know," refers to Dali spreading his twisted surrealist thoughts via that movie. Deep, deep song, takes a long time to comprehend. This is why the Pixies are my favorite band.
  • James from Jackson, MiActually, Beck admired Frank Black and his poetic style with many of his songs. "Girl" is not so much based off of this song as inspired by the conflicting images given by it.
  • Stephen from South Charleston, WvThe song "Girl" by Beck is actually based off of this song.
  • Shawn from Chico, CaActually, the movie is Un Chien Andalou, and although Bunuel directed the movie, it was written by Salvador Dali.
see more comments

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Black SabbathFact or Fiction

Dwarfs on stage with an oversize Stonehenge set? Dabbling in Satanism? Find out which Spinal Tap-moments were true for Black Sabbath.

Van Dyke ParksSongwriter Interviews

U2, Carly Simon, Joanna Newsom, Brian Wilson and Fiona Apple have all gone to Van Dyke Parks to make their songs exceptional.

Guy ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.

Best Band LogosSong Writing

Queen, Phish and The Stones are among our picks for the best band logos. Here are their histories and a design analysis from an expert.

Mark Arm of MudhoneySongwriter Interviews

When he was asked to write a song for the Singles soundtrack, Mark thought the Seattle grunge scene was already overblown, so that's what he wrote about.