Monday, December 29, 2008

Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, by Smashing Pumpkins

Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness

This albums contains another instrumental opening, similar to Division Bell starting track, but it's more peaceful. It's almost serene in how it plays. The album is perfectly titled as the tracks flow through a melancholy sound; it's not eager or excited, just kind of there. There's anger in some songs, sadness in others. One of the most famous songs by Smashing Pumpkins is the 2nd track, "Tonight, Tonight."

They had a perfect sound for the mid 90's; moody, slightly depressed, not angry but not excited. Again, the title of the album is almost perfect. The song "Tonight, Tonight" has this sense of promise or hope, like someone suffering from depression being happy for just a moment. Billy Corgan sings "We'll crucify the insincere tonight. We'll make things right, we'll feel it all tonight. We'll find a way to offer up the night tonight; the indescribable moments of your life tonight. The impossible is possible tonight. Believe in me as I believe in you, tonight."

From there it goes into JellyBelly, a more grunge/alternative song with a harder sound. Following that, "Zero" has another fast alternative sound, almost fed up with feeling depressed but at the same time embracing it. "Here Is No Why" covers a sadness of realizing that perhaps being a popular rock icon isn't the key to happiness -- "The useless drag of another day. The endless drags of a death rock boy. Mascara sure and lipstick lost; glitter burned by restless thoughts of being forgotten."

The most famous song by Smashing Pumpkins is "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," which holds one of the best opening lyrics of any song ever written: "The world is a vampire, sent to drain." It's anger at being in this world of selfishness and greed, a world that takes and gives nothing back. It's anger at being in a world with no sense of hope or salvation. The amazing thing is how it changes into the next song, going from rage to quiet depression, feeling nothing.

Further in the album, "Galapagos" holds one of the most powerful moments in music: when Billy Corgan sings "I won't deny the pain; I won't deny the change. And should I fall from grace, here, with you? Will you leave me, too?" The tone of the album is contained here -- an acceptance of pain and a fear that if he makes himself vulnerable, if he gives himself up, he'll be left alone again. When you've finally begun to stand on your own two feet and protect yourself, it's hard to open up and be vulnerable again because you can be left alone and empty just as you were before.

The album itself is over two hours long, so if I go into detail about every song this will take quite awhile. I'm going to jump ahead a few.

"1979" is another very famous Smashing Pumpkins song. It's about transitioning from being a teenager to an adult, about being at that crossroads, having some responsibilities but not all of them. Not sure where you're going of what's next. Billy Corgan himself said it came from a memory of when he was 18 and waiting at a traffic light on a rainy day; the feeling of being stuck at a crossroads, emotionally waiting for something to happen and not being quite there yet. The lyrics are somewhat hard to follow, but they give that exact feeling.

The album ends with "Farewell and Goodnight." I used to dislike it when bands would put closing songs on their albums, and sometimes it does still bother me, but in this album it fits. The final lyrics of the album are, "The sun shines, but I don't. A silver rain will wash away, and you can't tell, it's just as well. Goodnight, my love, to every hour in every day. Goodnight, always, to all that's pure that's in your heart." It fades off with a piano solo of the same sound as the first track, only instead of building up it tapers off, as if it was all one song just now coming to a close.

["Tonight, Tonight," by Smashing Pumpkins]

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