It’s no surprise that the Pixies classic ”Here Comes Your Man” was one of the few alt-rock songs to crack MTV’s pre-Nirvana playlist. With an infectious bass line and jangly chorus, the dainty piece of pop songcraft was, in 1989, a far better fit with the network’s Fine Young Cannibalistic tastes than the band’s typical dissonance. But who knew the sweetly simple three-minute track took nine years to create?
”I started the song when I was 15,” says 37-year-old frontman Frank Black (a.k.a. Black Francis). ”I wrote the opening riff on the piano in my aunt and uncle’s house. It was bouncing around in my head long before there was any kind of finished song.” Now you can hear Black’s slowed-down, two-verse early take on Spinart’s The Pixies, a nine-track official release of the much-bootlegged demo The Purple Tape. The track eventually showed up — significantly transformed — on 1989’s Doolittle, the Pixies’ third album. ”The third verse was added because the producer, Gil Norton, wanted the song to be a little longer,” says Black.
Okay, so what the heck is it about? ”It’s about a hobo. He’s on a westbound train, there’s an earthquake, and he’s involved in some kind of an accident in the desert, in the train yard—a big rock falls and hits him on the head, or something. I don’t know,” Black says, as confounded as we are. ”It’s a weird song.”