Saturday, December 31, 2016

25 Songs About Addiction and Recovery: GOUGE AWAY, The Pixies

Now nearly thirty years old, The Pixies' Gouge Away is one of that band's signature songs now. And like many songs on this list, it doesn't necessarily "mean' or refer to one thing. The images in the song are biblical, evocative of Samson and Delilah. And for the first several years the song was out, I believed the song was merely about the power and control issues inherent in any relationship.
Then I got together with, and addicted to drugs with, Sabrina's mother. And while the previous lens I saw the song through didn't vanish, what did happen was that I realized that drug addiction magnifies many "normal life" situations. And most specifically, I have not heard this song since about 1998 without thinking of the love triangle that the relationship became--with drugs assuming the position of power over both of us. 
The three day parties in the song were six or seven day runs in addiction, but many of the other images of the song had their analogue in our real life--or as real as an drug-soaked relationship can be. I remember nights when my locks were stroked; days when I woke up after passing out from exhaustion to find things gone, or myself under attack. I remember the desperate search for weed to take the edge off. I remember rubbing "bad charms" and a number of other ritualistic behaviors. And this is another song where the actual music reminds one of the discordant background noise of a relationship in addiction.
And although they don't make it into the lyrics, the live version of the song has Kim Deal singing "High, High, High" in one verse, and making noises of contentment in another very similar to the reaction when the high hits. All told, this is a nice, jarring reminder of what the reality of active addiction can do to a relationship.

Gouge away
You can gouge away
Stay all day
If you want to
Missy aggravation
Some sacred questions
You stroke my locks
Some marijuana
If you got some
Gouge away
You can gouge away
Stay all day
If you want to
Sleeping on your bed
You break my arms
You spoon my eyes
Been rubbing a bad charm
With holy fingers
Gouge away
You can gouge away
Stay all day
If you want to
Chained to the pillars
A three day party
I break the walls
And kill us all
With holy fingers
Gouge away
You can gouge away
Stay all day
If you want to

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