|Single by Pixies|
|from the album Trompe le Monde|
|Format||7", 12", Compact Disc|
Master Control, Burbank;
Studio des dames, Paris;
Blackwing Studios, London.
|Pixies singles chronology|
"Alec Eiffel" is a song by the American alternative rock band Pixies, and is the third track on their 1991 album Trompe le Monde. The song was written and sung by frontman Black Francis, produced by Gil Norton and recorded during the album's recording sessions. "Alec Eiffel" was released as a single in France, the United Kingdom and the United States, and was their third single from the album.
Melody and lyrics
The song references the French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty; Francis thought it was a "fascinating subject" to compose a song about. Francis also mentioned another meaning of the song: "Because of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, but also because it's funny: in Australia, you often say 'It's a smart Alec' for [sic] a guy who's nice but not very bright.", although in reality, Australians generally use the word to describe someone who is speaking out of turn; often in a way that makes them appear more intelligent than the person or group they are addressing. In Britain and the United States - a "smart Alec" is the exact opposite of Francis' description—someone who is intelligent, but mean or sarcastic.
"Alec Eiffel" is a tribute to the famous French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The song's video features the band playing in a wind-tunnel, a reference to the "pioneer of aerodynamics," with physics formulas in the background.
The British magazine Melody Maker later commented on Francis' songwriting technique and the song itself: "According to Charles, the song started with Eiffel, then he started to [sic] singing the words Eiffel, rifle, trifle, and suddenly 'everything fell into place'. It's not certain whether lines like 'little Eiffel stands in the archway, even though it doesn't make no sense' are an observation of the lunacy of the architecture or the song itself, which features a Sixties' -style zither!" (Francis is actually singing "keeping low, it don't make no sense", rather than "even though" which answers Melody Maker's question.)
Formats and track listing
All tracks written by Black Francis, unless otherwise noted.
|French CD single and UK 12"/CD single|
|1.||"Alec Eiffel" (On the French CD single, tracks one and two are switched.)||2:50|
|2.||"Motorway to Roswell"||4:43|
|3.||"Planet of Sound" (Live at Brixton Academy, July 26, 1991)||2:26|
|4.||"Tame" (Live at Brixton Academy, July 26, 1991)||2:27|
|UK 7" single|
|2.||"Motorway to Roswell"||4:43|
|US CD single (1992)|
|2.||"Letter to Memphis" (Instrumental)||2:42|
|4.||"Evil Hearted You"||Graham Gouldman||2:37|
- An April March's cover was included on the 1999 tribute album Pixies Fuckin' Die! (a tribute).
- A cover by The Get Up Kids was included on the 1999 tribute album Where Is My Mind? a tribute to The Pixies.
- Drumkan's cover is available on the 2000 tribute album tribute to the Pixies.
- Emo/alternative band The Get Up Kids released a cover version on their Eudora album in 2001.
- Cameron Brown's cover was released on the 2003 tribute album hey: A Pixies Tribute.
- A cover by Bunnies was included on the tribute album Dig for Fire: A Tribute to Pixies in November of 2007.
- Indie/punk band Lemuria covered this song on a 2009 split with Off With Their Heads that was released by Suburban Home Records.