AskDefine | Define debaser

Dictionary Definition

debaser n : a person who lowers the quality or character or value (as by adding cheaper metal to coins) [syn: degrader]

Extensive Definition

"Debaser" is a song by the American alternative rock band Pixies, and is the first song on their 1989 album Doolittle. The song was written and sung by frontman Black Francis and was produced by Gil Norton during Doolittles recording sessions. "Debaser" was later released as a single in 1997 to promote the Death to the Pixies compilation. The single appeared in three forms: live, studio and demo.

Lyrics and meaning

The lyrics are based on a French surrealist film by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí called Un chien andalou. The film opens with a scene in which a woman's eye is slit by a razor, which is referenced in the song lyric "Slicin' up eyeballs/I want you to know".
'I wish Buñuel was still alive. He made this film about nothing in particular. The title itself is a nonsense. With my stupid, pseudo-scholar, naive, enthusiast, avant-garde-ish, amateurish way to watch Un chien andalou (twice), I thought: 'Yeah, I will make a song about it,' he sings: "un chien andalou"...It sounds too French, so I will sing "un chien andalusia", it sounds good, no?'
The title "Debaser" comes from Un chien andalou debasing morality and standards of art, according to Black Francis.


The music was very influential on alternative rock. The song opens with a solo bass guitar and has a loud/soft dynamic, like many future Nirvana songs would. A popular rumor states that Kurt Cobain ripped most of Smells Like Teen Spirit from Debaser. The only thing he ever said about the Pixies in a sense like that is that "I feel so connected with the Pixies I should be in the Pixies, or at least in a Pixies cover band." The Pixies headlined the Reading Festival in 1991, where they played a highly enthusiastic version of "Debaser" which has become legendary among fans. This song also appears on the best-of albums Death to the Pixies and Wave of Mutilation: The Best of the Pixies.


Although "Debaser" was a Pixies staple since the release of Doolittle in 1989, the song was not released as a single until 1997, long after the Pixies broke-up. 4AD released three singles simultaneously, entitled Debaser: Studio, Debaser: Live, and Debaser: Demo. The three singles were released on September 22, 1997, and each featured a different cover and track listing.

Track listing


The Debaser: Studio single was released on CD, and featured a slightly remixed version of the album track, along with non-album studio recordings of three other tracks.
  1. "Debaser (Clif Norrell Mix)"
  2. "Bone Machine"
  3. "Gigantic"
  4. "Isla de Encanta"


The Debaser: Live single, also released on CD, contained four tracks recorded at a live show in 1989 for Chicago rock station WXRT.
  1. "Debaser"
  2. "The Holiday Song"
  3. "Cactus"
  4. "Nimrod's Son"


The Debaser: Demo single was a 7″ album containing demo recordings of two tracks.
  1. "Debaser"
  2. "Number 13 Baby"



debaser in French: Debaser
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