“My Own Two Cents on the Siamese Dream 25th Anniv.”

What’s my opinion on this 25th anniversary of The Smashing Pumpkins’ album Siamese Dream goin’ down today? Uh, I’m in favor of it, and to be honest I’ve liked pretty much everything the band has done, well, ever, right up through their last album Monuments to an Elegy from 2014 (a title which certainly sounds like a band’s swan song, whether it is or isn’t).
I think if nothing else, one thing that has to jump out at the onlooker in onlooking at Billy Corgan is the observation that the singer feeds off of tension. He’s very comfortable with the idea of people hating him, having grown up in an abusive household in the Chicago area where, reportedly, a step-mother would use violence against him suddenly, unexpectedly and regularly. It was those tense periods of waiting before the next attack, I saw him say in an excellent interview with Howard Stern, that were the hardest to take, and which no doubt went on to foster the power behind the Pumpkins’ music.
Later on in ’93 we’d get sophomore efforts from Nirvana and then Pearl Jam, each of which are pretty much lauded across the board, but from what I remember of this summer, we had no shortage of corn-merchants like Blind Melon and the Gin Blossoms clogging up the airwaves, so much so that a “VJ” (a likely extinct term which then stood for “video jockey,” like a disc jockey with videos) became a sort of celebrity in her own right, Kennedy who “everybody loves to hate,” as the probably self-prescribed epithet told. The exact video that was popular this summer by the Pumpkins was “Cherub Rock” — I remember just a blur of fast-paced colors and rapid shots and most of all that infectious, unforgettable chorus of “Let me out” (appropriate enough since we once had a babysitter who locked me, my sister and like five of my cousins in this bedroom for like five hours, somewhere around this time).
Lastly, as a sort of snot-rocket in the face of these insufferable vinyl geeks I keep seeing on Facebook these days (if you want something REAL why don’t you just look at these immigrant children being caged at our border or the city blocks burning down in San Francisco, for fu**’s sake), I’d like to mention a burned CD (meaning a store-bought blank CD with computer data, i.e. digital music, copied onto it hence forging a barely visible anatomical ring on the bottom correspondent to that exact amount of data, maximum 80 minutes, for anyone unfamiliar). I used to get pretty into this stuff before streaming and when “downloading” was still a quite clumsy and tedious affair. When bored, then, or just when feeling extra inspired, I’d get artistic in how I doodled the names of the bands and albums on them, one time even nabbing a green Sharpie from Walgreens out of the assorted pack for the sole purpose of adorning my copy of Weezer’s Green Album. I’d had the Siamese Dream disc, gravitating toward it for probably “Cherub Rock”; “Rocket” and “Mayonaise” more than anything but also just finding the whole thing pretty dark, mysterious and unforgettable (so the opposite of junior high, in other words). With pinpoint precision, I illustrated the band and title in the exact font they’re in on the real version — that sort of loopy, calligraphy-looking copy that seems perfect for the real cover, without a doubt. And I have this vivid memory of this girl on the cross country team staring at that Pumpkins disc with an especial look on her face, a girl who has now moved to LA from the Midwest, a sure sign of having wanted to be “let out” of a trap. She ended up borrowing it and putting it in on her Discman but somehow it wasn’t a joyous occasion — there was this overwhelming feeling of stasis in the air, of disease, of this wanton plague that cloaked everything and with which we’d all become so familiar, like a machine that tries to turn you into a machine too, unless you should somehow rip yourself from its biting grasp and, against all odds, construct yourself as a true individual. I’d given that CD that same look, many a time, along with other ones like Nirvana – Nevermind, Weezer’s blue album and probably Superunknown — without a doubt, they were more than little plastic objects. They were voluminous entryways into strange, dark portals, from which you emerged afterwards, forever changed.

5 thoughts on ““My Own Two Cents on the Siamese Dream 25th Anniv.”

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