Several years ago before blindness took so much away from me, I was driving home from another stressful day of work. I was listening to satellite radio because I absolutely despise commercials or too much talking. I never understood why people liked morning radio, the stupid skits, the endless talking and the complete lack of music. It always put me in a cranky mood by the time I got to work. I always wanted a morning radio show that played lots of music, no stupidity, maybe a quick news report and a quick traffic report. To me that was perfect. Sirius/XM was the closet I ever found.
So there I was driving along and I changed channels to something edgier and found an ongoing interview with not one but two of my favorite rock stars. The fact that they were being interviewed together and clearly having a good time surprised me because I could not think of two more different rock stars. So, I am sure you want to know who the two were, right? Well the first was Marilyn Manson, who I love to hear interviewed. The other though was Billy Corgan. Well it turns out that the two are friends and both had made what they felt were come back albums getting back to the music they liked to play and so Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins were touring together. It was the most stimulating interview I had ever heard.
Obviously, since we are on the letter S, today’s blog is about Smashing Pumpkins. They meet every criteria I have for great music. They have great melodies, great vocals packaged in these wonderful songs that leave me spellbound. I know that not everyone loves them but I just always have. I first heard them on the soundtrack to the movie Singles, which by the way is still one of my favorite movies. When I heard the song Drown I went to see if they had more music and found the album Gish. It was love at first listen.
I bought Siamese Dream the week that it was released. Soon the song Cherub Rock was all over the radio and band were suddenly superstars. I have always loved that album and I think it and the follow up Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness hold up amazingly well today. That’s what happens when you write great songs. Siamese Dream is one of those albums that just doesn’t have any bad songs. The strength of Billy Corgan is that he doesn’t have to keep writing the same songs over and over. He continues to grow. For a while in the early 90’s I lived with my best friend and his wife in a huge house in Fort Worth. I pretty much had half of the house to myself. One day when I thought no one was home I was playing Siamese Dream and playing it really loudly. I was doing laundry and cleaning my two rooms and my bathroom. When the album was over, I went to my stereo to play something else and my roommate walked in behind me and scared the crap out of me which of course brought her great joy. I apologized for having the music on so loudly and she waved me off and asked if I could play the album again. This was a person who tended towards county music or quiet storm jazz so it surprised me but I always think of that moment as a way of describing just how good that album is.
I think the defining song for Corgan was the song Today off of Siamese Dream. The song is so seemingly happy and upbeat. The melody of that music just makes you feel good until you realize the song is about depression and was written at a time when Corgan was feeling suicidal. Once you know that the song will never be the same for you. Corgan’s music continues to be as vital today as it ever was, great melodies with insightful strong lyrics. If you have never really listened to the band well sit back and enjoy the ride.