Monday, July 21, 2008

The End and the Beginning

I was a diehard Smashing Pumpkins fan for about a seventh of my life, between the years 1998 and 2001. I got into the band after hearing a complete broadcast of the 1998 album Adore on Q101, "Chicago's Alternative," which I listened to religiously. My father got tickets to see the band perform on July 7, 1998, at what was then known as the New World Music Theater, in Tinley Park, Illinois. I loved the poetic impenetrability of Billy Corgan's lyrics, the soaring guitars, and, well, Billy Corgan: from the first time I saw the "Ava Adore" video on MTV, I was hooked on the bald songsmith's curious combination of vulnerability and theatricality. By the middle of eighth grade, I was madly in love: with his crooked teeth, with the birthmark that covered most of his left arm (as seen in seventh-grade me's favorite picture of him.) I wrote long poems to him in my journal. My greatest wish was to take a picture with Billy.

In my eighth grade yearbook, our answers to two questions were printed under our names beside our pictures: "If I could have one wish it would be..." and "In twenty years I will be..." My answers were "To be the inspiration for WPC's songs and JV's comics" and "Driving in a van with EG, listening to 1979." JV was Jhonen Vasquez, creator of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, EG was my best friend Erin, and WPC was none other than William Patrick Corgan.

My love for the band waned after I attended their epic five-hour breakup concert; I'd put so much emotional energy into my fandom, waiting outside the XRT building in the November cold and getting my wallet stolen at a Tower Records signing for which I had convinced my parents to let me miss school. I didn't get into Zwan. I liked Corgan's 2005 solo album TheFutureEmbrace but not the way he undercut its release by taking out a giant ad in the Chicago Tribune calling the Pumpkins back together. Of course the reformed Pumpkins were just Billy and stalwart drummer Jimmy Chamberlain. His endless confessional blogging seemed to have destroyed any possibility of pulling James Iha and D'Arcy back into the whirlpool.

I imagine I'll write much more extensively about the Smashing Pumpkins (and Adore, the critically reviled album that remains my favorite) in this space. But the main reason for this entry is the new Watchmen trailer:

That's Billy's reedy voice there, singing "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning," the B-side to "The End is the Beginning is the End," which was written for and featured on the Batman and Robin soundtrack:

I'm sure this was the meta trick of some soundtrack scrub out in Silverlake, but all I hope for is that we get another greenscreen video with Billy in a unitard, gesticulating wildly.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Hi L.

I'm curious. Do you like the new Pumpkins material? I'm a big fan of the original Smashing Pumpkins lineup, but don't really dig the new stuff. It doesn't feel like the Pumpkins to me. I feel that either James or D'Arcy being back in the band would have gone a long way toward making this reunion a legitimate one. (at least in my mind) Heck, I'd be cool if Melissa was back. Here's hoping that the original lineup can resolve their differences and get back together at some point in the future.

And thanks for reading a comment from a perfect stranger. I'm looking forward to reading more of your postings. I saw that there's one about Radiohead. I'm a massive fan, so it'll be interesting to hear what you have to say.