“I believe that God deals you a weird deck of cards…some positive things and some negative things, and you need the ability to put all those things together. There’s no better window to your potential than yourself. You know what you’re capable of, and it’s pretty difficult to live your life knowing that your potential and capabilities are unfulfilled. All you need is the heart to do it… you have to get up every day and believe it, despite the adversities you may encounter. It has a lot to do with being honest, reflecting on your work with compassion and saying, ‘What do I really like about what I do? What can I improve?’ It’s the momentum, the expectations of every moment that make it possible. You just persist in getting to where you get to walk in the light.” – Billy Corgan, Guitar Player 1996
The Smashing Pumpkins are touring this summer. I bought my ticket today. Three original Pumpkins will play songs from the band’s golden period.
This is incredibly exciting.
If someone resurrected John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix from the dead and sat them in a room to experience Siamese Dream, this is what would happen:
Both men would sit facing the speakers, leaning in and staring into the air. Neither of them would move a muscle for some time. They would smoke cigarettes.
Both would frequently forget to take puffs. Lennon’s cigarette would become one long cylindrical ash propped between his fingers. They’d lean in further to the speakers during “Soma” and “Silverfuck”, mouths hanging open a little, dazed and barely breathing.
When the album finished, Lennon wouldn’t say a word. He’d sit in pale-faced silence, stone cold from the sudden body temperature drop caused by blood rushes of holy inspiration.
Hendrix would lean back, adjust his hat, and look up at the ceiling. He’d reach up and wipe misty dews of reverie from his eyes. Finally, he’d drop his gaze down to the floor, adjust his hat again, and simply whisper “Damn…”
My ticket pursuit involved grave stress and challenge. I had to survive my own adrenaline frenzy; I executed superhuman persistence while maintaining composure during a Ticketmaster fury.
I sat perched in front of the Ticketmaster website while performing work tasks in a separate window. The countdown was on. I looked at the clock frequently and tapped my foot. 1 minute to go. 30 seconds to go. BOOM! The arena seats appeared in a flash. I picked a spot close to the stage and clicked.
The system began processing my selection, but all at once another dialog box appeared: “Uh Oh! Something went wrong! Please try again.” I gasped and whispered, “No!”
I picked another seat and clicked on it. A dialog popped up and it said, “Sorry, we can’t process your selection. Please try again.”
I clicked on another seat and another, but each time the same message popped up. My mood quickly changed from frantic to enraged. I kept clicking. More dialog boxes telling me to try again.
My nose opened, my heart rate skyrocketed, and I yelled, “What the FUCK!?”, making no attempt to mask my fury from my office mates in the other room. Because HR should always set a good example like that.
I dialed Ticketmaster’s 800 number and continued clicking seats at random, shooting down dialog boxes.
I wasn’t going to give up. I was here at 10:00 a.m. sharp. I am a hardcore, lifelong, dedicated fan. If I couldn’t get tickets, I intended to abuse a Ticketmaster agent mercilessly. There would be hell to pay.
Looking back, it all makes perfect sense.
There’s not a better way to buy Smashing Pumpkins reunion tickets than to throw a massive Billy Corgan-style tantrum. When you buy Pumpkins tickets you should completely lose your shit, driven to rage by your sense of entitlement and by the denial of those things that are owed to you. It’s too perfect.
Some time passed with Ticketmaster on hold while I relentlessly clicked random seats.
A different dialog box popped up asking for my credit card number. “YES!”, I gasped, reeling with shock and mild confusion. The sudden and unexpected release from my rage-a-thon threw me off-balance. It took a second for my brain to register what was happening. I bought 2 tickets and printed my receipt.
I could finally breathe.
I almost avoided buying tickets because of the Billy/Darcy feud. Last week I read Darcy’s interview. Something happened between those two this past year that neither of them has talked about publicly. Whatever happened, it’s clear that Billy pissed Darcy the f— off… beyond the point of no return.
Reading that article was tough. Pumpkins fans just want the original members to love each other and be nice.
Everyone knows that Billy Corgan is an asshole, but reading the details of what a wretched terror he was in the studio is ugly. The reality of how people, important band members, feel around him and what they must endure is hard to swallow for fans who love Billy Corgan and his songwriting.
There’s a cognitive dissonance to it – the vulnerable boy in the songs; that voice reaching into minds and painting a picture of eternal hidden things unsaid, indescribable melodies and fountains of majestic color… versus the reality of what Corgan once called his “cold side” that he’s “not proud of.”
I believe all the Pumpkins love each other, but that love runs deep and cuts hard. Just like in families.
All the original members stood by Billy. They admired his songwriting and they believed in his vision. Darcy said she “enjoyed” their recent “friendship” and his lack of communication later hurt “my feelings.”
Pumpkin fans cannot handle that shit. The sensitivity level is too much. The empathy is overwhelming. Pumpkin members cannot be hurting each other’s feelings. That’s some bullshit.
They love him, and he loves all of them too. He spoke recently with affection about the early days of the band and how their support helped the band become successful. I believe he was manipulative and abusive in the studio, as Darcy says. I also believe that someone can be verbally abusive to their family members and still love them.
Billy is a narcissist and his need for attention and recognition is endless. His insecurity is a monster that devours everything in its path. But he’s also a creative genius who produced vast amounts of art that people love. That same monstrous insecurity manifested itself in phenomenal and consistently jaw-dropping songs in the 90’s.
That rocket blaze energy inside his music was a product of his twisted insanity. The cult-like religious magnet of the songs was Billy using his own personal spirituality to pull himself through his own craziness.
He pulled us through right along with him, reaching out to us in magazine quotes, talking about how you can do anything if you believe. Most of us were between 12 and 20 when we read those things. The enigma of Billy has always been the massive amounts of positive influence, victory and inspiration he brings forth (through music and ideas) versus his ugly narcissm. It all comes through in the music.
The contrast of his rocket-fuel songs against his other songs – tender little boy ballads -galvanized an entire generation of fans and left them begging for more. Which he delivered for years.
So, when I considered not going to see the ¾ reunion because the Pumpkins are acting like a bunch of little punks, that idea only lasted until the next time I played their old songs.
Chris Cornell and other 90’s icons are dead. All the original Pumpkins are still alive. I wanted to go see Chris on his last solo acoustic tour when he was still alive, but I passed it up because I didn’t want to pay for an expensive scalped ticket.
That shit will not happen again, ever.
“I don’t trust people for shit. It’s a sad thing to reach a point where people genuinely like you, approve of you, are coming to your concerts and basically reinforcing what you’re doing – and you can’t feel it. There’s no way to penetrate it. You’re looking for the absurd, the anomaly, to prove something to yourself.” Billy Corgan, 1995
“Like when I listened to early Soundgarden. It was all the heavy metal power that any band could muster, and it wasn’t dumb, and the guy could sing his ass off. And you go, ‘My God, how do I compete with that?’ and you go, ‘Fuck, we’ll find a way. We’ll find our own way.” Billy Corgan, Rolling Stone 1995