Sunday, November 18, 2007

Farewell & Goodnight

The art for Mellon Collie is done up like something intended for children (of some past the world never really had), and while some songs on it have a decidedly "children" vibe, Farewell & Goodnight is a downright lullaby.

It's an incredibly beautiful one, too, and contains wonderful singing from every member of the band, which could be such a hokey idea, but it's done with great effect here.

It's small and quiet, but still has it's grip on you.  At the end, it fades into a piano coda, tying the album up with a musical nod to the first track.  It's little bits like that that you really don't see much of these days, especially in this anti-album era.  On a big double album like Mellon Collie, there needs to be cohesion, otherwise the whole thing is too jumbled and rambling.  The piano at the end of Farewell & Goodnight is the perfect thing to package it all up with string.  

It's also the only fade out I'll ever tolerate, because it isn't truly a fade out.  It's only getting quieter because you're falling asleep.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Having done two pre-gish not-so-great songs, I feel like taking on a real meaty one (gross).

Anyways, Starla is so damn near perfect I can't even handle it.
It takes it's time and there's no problem to it.  The song isn't too long, and every part complements the others wonderfully.  I even don't mind the fact that the song ends suddenly, which is usually the second biggest turnoff for me, right below a fade out.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say the song doesn't end suddenly, it ends in a completely logical way.  If the song ended with an ending ringing chord, I'd feel cheated out of an ending.

The quiet, "serve yourself" part in the middle, which Billy has said he wrote on the back of an envelope (the best place to write lyrics, btw) is such a beautiful moment, a calm before the epic storm that follows.  And the solo is totally bonkers, swirling in and out of melody.  Gosh! This song is killer, and to prove it, here's a killer live video of it from 1992:


Spiteface seems to be a really long-running joke with the band.

They've had to fend off fans shouting for it at many shows, and often indulge in a tease or two every now and then.

As opposed to it being a high-in-demand song because of it's merits and a long-lost gem of a song, I think the joke is that this song is really bad.  It's goofy, and atrocious.  But really hilarious, too.  I mean, really? "Never piece this broken heart to you?" Yikes.  And the break in the middle is such a bad case of feigned toughness, it's like makeup-less KISS at their worst.  Which is also makeup-less KISS at their best, so I guess that's why the song is so popular.
Check out this phatty live performance:

I feel like the shirt Billy is wearing is the perfect analogy to Spiteface.


Screaming lies in the heart of new wave Pumpkins, dating back to pre-Jimmy, drum-machine days.

Aside from the vocal-confidence-identity problems that plague all of the heavy new-wave material, Screaming is a really catchy 80's tune, and if anything, benefits from having a pretty cheap drum machine playing with it.  It's a pretty good indication of the pop-chops that would come later, but still isn't a good enough song to set the band apart from any others of the time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bring The Light

Zeitgeist, as I've said, had way too much going against it.

Possibly chief among these was poor single choices.  Tarantula is an okay song, but it's just okay, and while lyrically it's appropriate for a "we're back again" single choice, musically it's boring and proves nothing.  I feel similarly about "That's the Way."  The fact that the videos for both these songs was utterly horrible certainly doesn't help, either.

There are two songs on the album that should have been singles (and they've both charted by themselves without label interaction in some countries!), "Doomsday Clock," and "Bring the Light." Doomsday Clock is probably the best album opener the Pumpkins ever had (hyperbole that I'll certainly disagree with later), and would have been an absolutely killer way to re-introduce fans to the band, and certainly would have wrangled in new fans, too (I mean, come on, they had the song in Transformers, how could it not have been a single!!?)

But Bring The Light is a great song to keep the momentum of the singles, and also show a different side to the band.  Bring the Light is still rocking, it's still pounding, driving, and intense, but more subtly that Doomsday.  And come on, it has the most searing harmonized solo I've heard in years, and all the cool kids these days are about that, right?  What a missed opportunity!

But I know, I know, albums aren't all about singles and making hella dollaz, they're about integrity and artform.  Well, I think Bring the Light is the prettiest song on Zeitgeist other than the obvious ballad, Neverlost (which is really similar to Blissed & Gone, so that doesn't count).  It's probably the most precisely structured song in the Pumpkins' catalogue, every A leads to B and C to D, but to me, it isn't a problem.  It's so smartly put together that it excites me.  Which I feel is what the song is all about.  It's about excitement, it's a rave-up, in a way.  Some criticism of the song is that it's nothing more than Billy repeating the title.  Well, why shouldn't he?  The song benefits from it, in my opinion.  And besides, he's not just repeating it the whole time, there are other lyrics, and they've got some great images in them "you'd spit upon my dust / and mix my ash / with your blood." 

When the band started playing the song live, it got longer and jammier, but not in an obtrusive way.  Every extension benefits the song very nicely:

So as it stands, Zeitgeist never got where it could have because Bring the Light wasn't a single. So there.
That may be unfair, but so was watching lasers come out of Billy's eyes.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wishing You Were

sWishing You Were is kind of a bizarre song in the Pumpkins canon, because it ends up in a few different places along the line, but never really in its own rite as a song.

There are two demo versions of the song, the first, on the first Mellon Collie Demo tape, is based on a few piano chords that repeat and stretch along, making the song seem much longer than it's three minutes, while Billy emotes semi-blandly, with pretty sappy lyrics that never got past a first edit.

The second demo version is on the second Mellon Collie Demo tape, and adheres to the guitar/drum machine style.  This version has the same basic structure as the piano demo, including what sounded like awkward pauses in the original.  There are no lyrics in this version, just the guitars repeating the riffs they play over the basic chords.

Some of the lyrics in the piano demo end up at the end of The Aeroplane Flies High:

wishing you were real to me
wishing i could make believe
i'll take my secrets to the grave
safely held beneath the waves

With slight variation, of course.  But this appropriation is tiny compared to the other.

I was pretty surprised the first time I heard the guitar version, as I'm sure anyone who has heard it was, as the guitar riff was reused note for note in the 'loud' version of For Martha a few years later.  It's an incredibly fascinating discovery, as it shows how important riff-libraries really are to a prolific band like the Pumpkins.  The demo seems so much like a throwaway, it's really weird to think that Billy was writing For Martha and just thought "oh yeah, that one demo we did on that one tape three years ago. That would go great here."  But then, most likely Billy remembered when writing For Martha that that part of the song shared the chords with an older tune, and happily remembered which one.


Now comes a strange part of writing this thing.  What to do when it comes to semi-obscure instrumentals on demo tapes?

Well, include them, of course.

"Feelium" is on the third Mellon Collie demo tape, and from what I can gather, has most of the same songs on the second tape, but also has Feelium and an electric demo of God.  Like most of the demos on the second tape, the songs are built around a drum machine.  Feelium's beat never changes through the whole song, and Billy & James (maybe just Billy) play swirling guitar riffs for four minutes.  There's a slight variation on the riff, as close as the song gets to a chorus, and a couple of little breaks where it's a guitar playing without the swirly effect.

The song is very pretty, the riff is pretty nice and pleasant sounding, but it's pretty plain to see why the song didn't go anywhere past the demo tape.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Crying Tree of Mercury

It's no mystery that Machina was a concept album, and while some day I will certainly delve into the story behind Glass and his zany God-fearing adventures, I'd rather talk about a less obviously story driven song.

Now while Crying Tree could fit in with the "Glass & June" part of the story, it could stand alone as a non-specific love song.  Non-specific in the way that the song is addressed to the all-ambiguous 'you.'  Having just thought of all the people he could be addressing with that 'you,' a new interpretation springs to mind.  That Billy isn't singing to a person, he's singing to the fans, the listeners.  There are reasons to back up that claim, such as when he says 'you and you and you and you,' as if pointing to the crowd.  Other songs on Machina have decidedly real-world, band-referencing lyrics as well, so it's entirely possible that Billy is singing to the fans.

I personally detest that idea.  Crying Tree is the most desperate failure song in Billy's epic catalogue.  Having it be to a huge group of listeners rather than just one object of affection cuts the emotion down to nothing.  The music surrounding the song is made bored by that interpretation, the solo made out of necessity rather than desperation.

This use of music as a tool to further the emotions behind the words is one of the reasons I would say Machina works as a concept album.  As the characters in the story fall apart, so does the music.  It becomes raggedy and gritty, full of static and apathy.  But below that sheen of noise is one man trying to lead his band through that noise to the sunshine beyond.  As the story goes (and how real life turned out, too), the band behind the man just didn't have it in them.

When I first heard the song, I really didn't like it because I thought the Machina-sheen just got in the way.  Really placing the song in context with the rest of the album was one thing that helped me to enjoy the song.  The other was hearing the solo piano version of the song, which you can hear here: Crying Tree of Mercury (thanks Ozphoria, I hope it's okay I linked that). This version has nothing but Billy, and opens the song up to show itss guts and feeling.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tales Of A Scorched Earth

Let's start this one with a bang: this is the Pumpkins' heaviest, hardest, and angriest song.

Bam! I'm tempted to leave it at that, but I'm not going to (duh!) You can tell right from the offset that this is going to be an ear-splitter, it cuts in with that tape-start kind of sounds, a hint of feedback, then right in to an really low and heavy riff.

Then Billy gets going.  The lyrics are eq'd up to the highest frequencies, giving an even sharper edge to ridiculous lines like "cause you're all whores, and i'm a fag, and i've got no mother, and i've got no dad."  I mean, damn.

I guess, having said that the song is the heaviest, I'm having trouble writing about it now.  I guess because it's so biting and heavy on all outer levels that it's pretty redundant to note that it's heavy.  It would be interesting to try to make a point about the song's pretty parts, peeling the downer-onion-skins to reveal a kind-hearted gem.  But just like the vocals are stripped of their low-end, I don't think there's much more to this song than the bite.

That said, there are two tiny parts that contain glimmers.  It's implied that Billy has had hope or even has hope, just that everything has worked so hard against him that they don't even matter to him anymore.  Also, at one time, Billy tried to be more than what he is, but was equally stepped on.  The Earth is Hope, and it is Scorched? Sure.

Songs like this benefit from the almost playful tone the Mellon Collie cover art has.  The typeface that spells out "tales of a scorched earth" is so jovial that you don't even notice what the song is called, much less expect something so violent.


I think I've actually managed to not write about anything on Mellon Collie yet! This is ridiculous. I will now remedy this.

Remedy it with Love!

Anyways, Love sounds filthy.  Like, really really filthy.  But it sounds like filth from the future.  Techno-psycho-future-rock.  That's what Love is.

And I think that's what Billy is trying to say Love is, too.  He's singing in a way that could almost sound bored, but he manages to pack a huge bite in there, too. As for the lyrics, they're pretty cryptic and unspecific, but there are some great little moments throughout the song, including the killer couplet of "she shimmy shakes / the jimmy jakes of consequence."  I don't know what a jimmy jake is, but shimmy shakes is downright sexy. But gross-sexy.  Filthy, like the song.  

The lyrics also have a sort of mocking tone towards drippy love-letter-style writing (which makes it downright hilarious to have Cupid De Locke be the next song), especially lines like "born of the airs and dues," things like that, but then Billy reels it back to the mud with "my airs of madness do declare, that it's okay, it's love."

In the second half of the song, things get really interesting, with the build up to the solo, then the solo itself, which I swear to God was beamed down from Mars, then after the solo there's another build-up to the final chorus, which has one little chord change to keep everything interesting (successfully).  Then everything swirls down into oblivion, before sputtering out one last mudsoaked breath.

Now that's love.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Apathy's Last Kiss

When I was 14, Apathy's Last Kiss was probably the weirdest thing I'd ever heard.

It's still pretty weird today (I am 20).  It seems like it's comprised of a bunch of different songs that share the same chords put together.  Which it probably is.  It changes keys right in the middle for no reason, has flanging and chorus effects hammed on to it wherever there's room (or not). It's a mad-house! 

It's one of those songs that was always going to be a b-side. Could you imagine this song on Siamese Dream? No.

But of course, it's charming to me.  It's so strange, but it starts so compellingly.  The first fifteen seconds have such a nice little build-up that when things start getting weird ten seconds later, you don't really mind.

By the end of the song, the bass gets grungy and everything falls apart.  It's a perfect end to such a strange little gem, no? With songs like this, there are two ways of ending it: a) have it fall apart, or b) have it explode.  This song hasn't exactly cornered the market on a), but I'd say it does a pretty fair job.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Let Me Give The World To You

So if "Stellar" is the song that would have saved Zeitgeist, it's arguable that "Let Me Give The World To You" is the song that would have "saved" Adore.

I'm going to disagree with this, mainly because I don't think Adore needs saving at all.  If there was any Adore out take that should have been on the album, I would prefer Chewing Gum (Adore has some great pop moments, why not play them up?) or Once In A While (if it was taken off because of Once Upon A Time, couldn't you just rename it? I digress). 

The reason I say all this is that there seems to be this prevailing mood around the song that it was the 'hit' single Adore 'never had.'  I don't know who started this, but thinking like that is kind of silly.  I may say that "Set the ray to Jerry" really should have been on Mellon Collie, but when I think about it, I have trouble placing it on the album.  It sounds perfect on the 1979 single!  That said, Let Me Give The World To You would probably have an easier time 'fitting' on Adore than Billy thought (he said it didn't fit once, btw).  

I think what really drags the song down for me is it's placing on Machina II, which is a problem Machina II often has.  It feels more like a collection of songs rather than a set in stone album.  So any one great song has a rough time standing out because they're all jumbled up in one big mass.

The other thing that drags LMGTWTY is it's production.  Of all the songs that have that strange reverb sheen of Machina II songs, LMGTWTY is the one that really suffers from it.  It makes the song so bland, which is odd, because if you strain to hear Billy, he's giving one of the more passionate vocal performances of the era.

Apparently a version exists somewhere that Rick Rubin produced, featuring "a stripped down arrangement, with guitar, bass, organ, and Joey Waronker on drums" (thanks SPFC).  Now that would sound great! I could see why it wouldn't have fit on Adore, but couldn't they have just released it as a stand alone single?  Why don't more people do that these days?

The band has recently started to bring the song into the setlist, but (based on one version I heard of it, maybe the first night was better) the song still seems a little bland, and sounds like it's the 'one more than we needed' of songs the New Pumpkins play that's based on jangly-delay-guitars-and-maybe-organ.

So the jury's still out on this one, I guess.  In some alternate dimension, would the Pumpkins have retained their popularity (or found a new one) if they'd released this song back in '98? sliderssssss.

Monday, October 8, 2007


For those who don't know, at the beginning of the band's formation, they were very much a new wave Cure-ish band.  Billy's said a billion times how much he loves the Cure, and the early songs show that very much, and not always for the better.  The biggest concern is that Billy a) doesn't really know what his voice can do yet, and b) since he doesn't, he slips into Robert Smith emulation.

All that said, there are some gems from the period.  For instance, "She."

She is based around one main riff, played on a pretty jangling guitar.  Songs based on one riff have to build things around this riff, changing the background elements in an exciting way, so that when the song reaches a place where the riff changes, it's really exciting.  I think She pulls that off great.  It's really fun and catchy, too, a good song to tap your foot and shake your head from side to side.  There's great little guitar licks being played around the main riff, and Jimmy keeps the dynamics exciting.

The lyrics leave a little something to be desired, with a pretty glaring Cure reference in the chorus (haven't we already heard a new wave song talking about the days of the week?), but the verses are simple and effective.  You're not looking for something too specific and lofty and the words, you know, since after all the song is called simply "She." 

It is funny to think about what would have been if the Pumpkins never went rock.  If Billy had learned how to control his voice, then She could had been really lifted into awesome single status, maybe.  Maybe.  Next lifetime, then.

Friday, October 5, 2007


It does seem sort of silly for me to be so focused on Zeitgeist-era songs.

But those are the ones that are fresher in my mind, so I can't really help it.

Most people's problems (mine included) with Zeitgeist come from the fact that the album has roughly one type of song: the barnburner.  While there are a couple of songs that don't quite fit that (Neverlost being a nice ballad and Pomp & Circumstances being a piece of shit), the album breaks into your house with a boombox and a hammer and doesn't really leave.  

The worry was that Billy was trying to revive the Pumpkins that everyone remembered, and couldn't remember all the things that made the Pumpkins the great band they were.  He decided that people remembered them as a crushing rock band here to steal your children.

He'd be wrong if he thought that, but fortunately, he doesn't.

Stellar is the song that I feel captures the essence of the Pumpkins better than any other Zeitgeist-era song.  It's rock, but it's got feeling, too.  Most other songs on Zeitgeist feel bland and devoid of emotion, but Stellar manages to be powerful with guitars and sound, and also powerful with feeling.

I think that if all the bonus tracks for Zeitgeist (Death From Above, Stellar, and Zeitgeist) were included on the actual album (maybe remove Pomp & Circumstances for safety's sake), then Zeitgeist would be considered an album worthy to stand next to the old Pumpkins.

As a song by itself, Stellar is also great because it's a continuation of musical style for Billy.  It's like a mix of Pumpkins and FutureEmbrace-style rock.  That's why if it was on Zeitgeist it would have shown everyone that Billy's moving forward rather than searching for something behind him.  And it's still Pumpkins at the core, with sad lyrics about failed love and waning life.  And the guitar, too, seems old school, with Billy sounding like he's thinking about what James would play on it.  

Man, it would have been great if this song was written for the Old Pumpkins.  Hopefully it will grow into a new life with the New Pumpkins.  I hope they start playing it live soon. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Purr Snickety

My version of Purr Snickety is obviously ripped from a vinyl source, and to be honest, I don't think I'd want to hear a cleaned up version (I also don't know if one exists).  This song is so private and personal, it seems like Billy's singing into his closet so no one ever hears him, ever. It's beautiful and I feel honored that Billy let us hear it (I feel similarly about Soothe, but oddly not the same way about, say, the Machina Acoustic Demos).  The first chord is strum in a way that seems like Billy feels nervous about playing it, but by the time he gets to "all your love won't change," he's feeling confident in what he's playing.

The lyrics are written in a wise-learned-old-man kind of way, which adds to the song's "old" feel. It's the mix of the lyrics and the quiet, awkward nature of how the song's played that make me love the crackles of vinyl on the track.  If it was clean and perfect, I think the song wouldn't really take me to another place.  As it is, I really want to sit down with the song and close my eyes to it.  It's a nice touch that's probably not intended, but I believe in happy accidents.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I Am One

Man, can you really think of a better way to introduce the world to your band?
Well, sure you can, but "I Am One" has a ton of points.
It's building up the band, you know.  It starts with drums pounding a steady dank beat (I'll try not to ever use the word 'dank', sorry).  At this point, the song could go anywhere, you're in a crazy steady beat-world waiting for a light.  But you don't get light, you get a dark bass line.  It's not evil, but it's pretty sassy.  Then Billy & James bring the light (lol) and the song takes off.  But it's still in the air for a second before it dive bombs into head-scathing rock.

That was "I Am One" on heckof drugs.

Anyways, I Am One is a great way to start an album.  It's a fairly concise example of what the Pumpkins were about at that point, and is catchy to boot.  The lyrics seem to be fairly pointless, but it's okay because you can make noises along to them.  All in all, it's a great manifesto to throw at people to introduce yourself to them.  Much better than, say, "My Dahlia."  

It's great how far I Am One really soared once it got onstage.  It became a vehicle for the famed Billy rants, one of the most endearing/angering parts of the live billy experience.

gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gim gim gim gi gi NOTHING!


It's interesting to point out that when he'd rant in the middle of the crazy fast version they worked up for Lollapalooza, Billy ranted early lyrics to Zero.  If you've never heard it before, it's pretty awesome to see a work in progress in the middle of a different song.

nothing can be taken from me that has not already been taken

—i guess so, Billy.

The rant was great at the 'last' Metro show, too.  "Welcome to the last gasp- of the smashing pumpkins."

Sorry that was so disjointed.

Friday, September 28, 2007


"Zeitgeist" the song has that funny distinction of being one of those songs that's a title track you can't find on the actual release (unless you count the Target version of the album).  Now for those who are afraid of crazy theories, skip to the end, because I'm about to use the song "Zeitgeist" as a platform to put forth my ideas about the album Zeitgeist (lol punctuation).

Zeitgeist is a concept album about, what else, the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.  The album as a whole is Billy Corgan's view of the world today.  A lot of people say that Zeitgeist is Billy Corgan trying to reconnect with the kids, trying to get with the times, and in a way, they're right.  

Billy Corgan is a very strange person, and every time he pipes up with his blogs or other rants about how much he hates Zwan, he distances himself from reality and everyone else around him who just feels awkward when Billy says how everyone in Zwan are horrible, immoral, grotesque people.  Apparently Billy realized this, and while it's still unclear if he's cleaning up his own act (ps, Billy, when you're trying to bring your band back together calling D'arcy a "mean spirited drug addict" won't help), he seems to be trying to get back some of the people he's alienated.  What better way to bring back the Pumpkins?

Now, I don't believe that the only reason Billy brought back SP is to make people love him again.  Nor do I believe that it only exists as a cash cow (I've already been proven wrong with my idea that as soon as Zeitgeist tanked he'd immediately break up the band).  I really do believe that Billy cares about SP, and that by digging up the name "smashing pumpkins," he's really bringing a part of himself back, clearly a part that he missed, and could tell other people missed.

Because I don't really want to have a Billy Pity Party, I'll move on.

Zeitgeist is drawing from many sources to create it's vision of right now.  As has been noted, it's the most (and probably first) politically motivated set of songs Billy's ever made, which is perfect for such a climate as now.  The problem is that Billy needs a little practice with his political anthems, and so most of them come off as a little awkward.  But at least he believes in what he's trying to say, which is evident from his delivery.  If he didn't really care and was only writing these songs to cash in on Bush-bashing, he'd have sung them in his "bored voice," that careless drab whine that drags out all the wrong syllables he'd use during some 2000 shows (1979 in particular. the lyric is not "nahnteen shyeven nyiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.")  Instead Billy, on United States in particular, bring on his best wail in years.

A ton of people bash the album art of Zeitgeist, and probably with due reason.  When Shepard Fairey explained the concept, he did nothing more than reveal himself to be a total idiot and to throw egg in Billy's face.  That said, the rest of the album art is bizarre, but fits in to the theme of Zeitgeist. Everything is seen on TV screens, indicating our increasing obsession with television.  Paris Hilton even makes an appearance!  It's all an obvious plea to America to turn off and live a little, right? Hell, even the fact that the album comes in a billion different versions could be read as a critique of consumerism, right? Yeah? Yeah? America's fucked, yo.

Maybe.  The truth is, the message is sort of buried and comes off as making Billy look like an idiot that doesn't know anything about right now and is still stuck in 1994.  That isn't true though.  If anything, Billy is stuck in 2005.  Zeitgeist is a document of our culture two years ago.  So he missed his mark.  Oops.

Sadly, he missed his mark on an album that's incredibly important career-wise.  The fact that it's not important for anyone else makes it a little hard to warm up to.  But it's a nice try.

Now, the song "Zeitgeist."

The song to me seems like a real "end of the day" kind of song.  It's also a bit of a road song in the way that it's talking about a journey, but different in the way that the journey doesn't go anywhere.  It seems like Billy takes a long journey trying to find peace everyday, but he's alone and always finds himself in his empty house at the end of the day.  It's pretty sad, and may even be an admission that he doesn't really understand the world around him.  After all, he's "lost on the road," yeah?

It's funny that the song seems like sort of an anthem-song.  You could imagine everyone singing along to it.  A bajillion kids all proclaiming how lost and alone they are.  It's a funny image. 

The line "I hear there's a march, we should go" probably reveals the whole thing.  We may try to unite ourselves for our different causes, but we're all still alone and nothing really changes in the grand scheme of things.  It's a depressing thought, but maybe it's what Billy thinks really encapsulates our culture right now.  A need for personal connection that we've given up on but still acknowledge, while all the while we surround ourselves in ridiculous situations (Paris Hilton, yeah? Silly).  So maybe Billy Corgan's not too far off, just no one else is ready to listen to him.

That said, "Zeitgeist" could just be a little acoustic song he tossed out during the Zeitgeist sessions that sounded like it would do well as a B-side or bonus track. Such is life.  Me being me, though, I'm willing to give Billy the credit.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Pennies is an instant pop classic, regardless of the fact that it's buried on a single and no-one buys singles anymore, do they?!  Anyways, it's easy to see why Pennies wouldn't have fitted on Mellon Collie.  It has a completely different feeling from the, for lack of a better word, melancholy mood that prevails.  I'm not saying that all of melancholy sad, nor am I saying that Pennies is happy (which it isn't, really).

Pennies is a very simple love song, about someone who used to be involved with another but now they aren't together and the other doesn't like Billy (or Billy's character) anymore.  The greatest part (what really makes the song, maybe) is in the second verse, when it is proclaimed "but i've got a new girlfriend, she looks a lot like you, dear!"  Clearly our narrator hasn't gotten over it, and is dating maliciously.  Or it would seem malicious, were it not such a pretty song.  As it is, the way the song sounds makes our narrator seem very naive, as if the relationship that has ended was his first.  Billy has said that a song like "Stand Inside Your Love" isn't as optimistic as everyone thinks it is.  I feel like "Pennies" is that song without the sarcasm.  Or with a different kind of sarcasm.

Pennies is one of the songs in the Pumpkins oeuvre that shows how good the band is at making stellar pop tunes. It's always their most pop songs that are more popular anyways (maybe that's why it's called 'pop').  I would love to hear an album full of Pennies-style jams.  Or maybe not.