Best tunes of 1993: #11 The Breeders “Cannonball”

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The Breeders were formed in 1989 as a side project for Kim Deal (Pixies) and Tanya Donnelly (Throwing Muses). In the spaces between working with their primary groups, they released an album and an EP before Donnelly decided to part ways with both Throwing Muses and The Breeders to focus on a third project called Belly. Deal brought her twin sister Kelley into the fold in 1992 and when the Pixies disbanded the following year, The Breeders became her main creative outlet.

I still have never really explored The Breeders’ early work, nor am I super familiar with the work that came after their reunion* in 1996. However, I am very familiar with their huge second album, “The last splash”. You would have had to live under a rock to have avoided it back in ‘93. It was a huge commercial and critical success, making Deal a bigger name perhaps than her ex-Pixies band mate Frank Black. And a huge part of the album’s success was due to the ubiquity of this track here: “Cannonball”

“Spitting in a wishing well
Blown to hell, crash
I’m the last splash”

Just like how the album takes its name from “Cannnonball”’s lyrics, the tune really sets the tone and represents the havoc that Deal and company create with the album. Its nonsensical lyrics are merely fun to sing/scream along with and Deal does both, taking turns cooing into and trying to exceed the sound limits of the microphone, also employing the use of a harmonica mike at points to create that distorted effect during the intro and throughout the piece. Jim McPherson’s drumming starts off the song with a tickety-tack drum line before devolving into an Animal-like crash and bash course. The gurgling bass line is accompanied by a guitar lick that slithers and slides up and down your spine. The 3 minutes and 36 seconds of the tune’s duration is a seemingly random tennis match between groove and noisy chaos and when you throw in that false ending two-thirds of the way through, that crashing return has you more pumped than ever to jump into that packed crowd on the dance floor or mosh pit and freak right out.

“Cannonball” was all over the radio and its video graced television screens care of MTV and MuchMusic all the time after its release as a single but it was just one of those songs of which you could not get sick. I remember seeing them perform the album live at Osheaga 10 years ago in celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary and everyone onstage and in the crowd just lit up with the song’s energy. And you just watch the Deal sisters having a blast in the video below and you can’t help but join them in being more than a little crazy.

*The group took a hiatus shortly after the release of “The last splash” due to Kelley Deal’s drug and legal problems.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.

5 replies on “Best tunes of 1993: #11 The Breeders “Cannonball””

Loved it.
This is what I love in your post
Great post about The Breeders and their iconic track “Cannonball”! It’s always fascinating to learn about the backstory behind famous bands/artists.
Thanks, Ely


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