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.