Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The world is a vampire (but not a wussy Twilight one)

In addition to my parellel parking skillz (or lack therof), there remains one large part of my life that most people seem baffled by: my enduring and obsessive love of The Smashing Pumpkins.

1995: The Smashing Pumpkins squander their proceeds on eyeliner and sparkly things.

Now, when I say I love Lady Gaga, that love is but merely a fraction of devotion I have to the Pumpkins. Those of you who know my adoration of The Gaga are probably terrified right now knowing there is another music artist who I am even more crazy about...BUT let me explain.

I discovered The Smashing Pumpkins in the summer of 1996, 15 years ago. I clearly recall babysitting my cousins in Oregon one day when the much lauded music video for "Tonight, Tonight" popped up on MTV (back when that station wasn't filled with guidos and games about being quiet in a library (but seriously MTV, WTF? A library)) Anyway, immediately I was in love with the song, the band and the chrome dome beauty that is lead singer, Billy Corgan.

"Hey baby, wanna see my silver pants?"

This experience sparked a fire inside of me which led me to become an obsessive 13-year-old with a literal shrine to the band in my Dallas and eventual Boise bedroom. I spent all my "good grade" cheddar on The Aeroplane Flies High box set which was over $50. I wore that shit out. By then I had purchased every album the band put out, including rarities and crazy fans only merchandise. I remember being more thrilled than a Gaga in a shoe store when I discovered the band had been together since 1991 and thus, I had 4 years of music to engorge myself in.

Since that fateful summer, I have spent over $500 on various pieces of the band (yes, I actually crunched the numbers). This includes a VIP concert ticket and meeting my hero and eternal love, Billy.

"But wait, weirdo", you may be saying, "you haven't told us why this band means so much!" Slow your roll, readers! I'm getting to that.

Something very tragic happened in December 1995; my father died. In a lot of ways, I believe the Pumpkins kept me alive during that time and years after. Billy's music and lyrics reflected my situation at the time; I was depressed, angry, sad and basically acted like a punk for years. Songs like "Today" and "Thirty Three" gave me hope. All those songs created a storyline in my head and helped push the bad stuff out.

One song sticks out in particular. "Galapogos" from the Mellon Collie album ALWAYS makes me cry. No matter what. It's a gorgeous tale of being so in love that you can't bear to live on without the other. It sounds like there's some therapy needed, yes, but it's very Shakespearean in its idea. Also, the Pumpkins inspired me to pick up a guitar and write. The first song I ever learned to play was "Stand Inside Your Love" from the virtually flawless Machina album from 2000.

Most importantly, when I listen to their music, I feel as if I am home. I have never been as calm and peaceful as when I listen to the Pumpkins. It reminds me of where I came from and also that I'm still here which in itself is sometimes a miracle. It reminds me of my dad and it reminds me that there's always something beautiful out there to look forward to.

And that is why I love The Smashing Pumpkins. I hope you all love something as much.

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