Sunday, March 22, 2009

Billy Corgan has not "sold out"

I've been struggling with this thing for a few weeks now, since "Today" popped up in a Visa ad. It's a lot more than just a backing song for a random commercial..."Today" was the song that launched the Pumpkins to superstardom, as well as the song that Billy credits with saving his life. All the way back in 2004, there was an interview in Newsweek in which Billy discussed why he had repeatedly refused to license Today and Tonight,Tonight. Here are his words:

(Billy) The song I wrote, "Today," which ended up being a pretty big song--that song literally saved my life. I was completely suicidal, and I wrote that song in a cold bedroom on a day where it was like, "I'm either going to kill myself today, or I'm going to live because I'm sick of thinking about this." When I played it, it was an intense, extreme feeling. Last year, I was offered heavy, heavy money to license that song. I actually turned down two huge, huge, seven-figure-plus deals last year for two songs.

(Newsweek) For "Today" and for which other song?

(Billy) "Tonight, Tonight." That's a fundamentally difficult position to be in. At this point, it's just free money. Song's already been played. It's been exploited. The record company's literally begging me: go ahead and take these commercials. At this point in my life, I don't feel comfortable. Those songs are the reason I'm alive. If your music is not sacred to the point where it's a really, really, really heavy decision about whether or not you would allow somebody else to exploit it, then what's not for sale?

So now everything is for sale. Is that selling out? In a sense, absolutely. But looking at it as a progression of the Pumpkins it's a natural step in where the band has been headed. I've been a huge fan for years the last 16 years, but looking back there's a definite break between Adore and Machina, and things haven't been the same since. Gish, Siamese Dream, MCIS, and Adore were the work of a band (and a frontman) that wanted to express things
that could only be expressed through music. From teen angst through the shock of realizing that you're an adult now, those will always be magical CDs.

Machina I and II were different. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the music, but the meaning just isn't there. It's a CD about grappling with the fact that you're a huge rock star. We can all relate to that, right? Then the breakup, Zwan, Billy Corgan's solo CD, SP reformation with 2/4 of the original members, and Zeitgeist, which is a CD about America. Again, good music, just not on the same emotional level as the first albums.

So for the last 9 years the music hasn't been emotional. Musically it's still great, but it hasn't been the kind of music that teenagers will listen to late at night and thank the stars that somebody out there understands what it is to be lost and confused in the big, big world.

With the licensing of Today, Billy has told us all that he realizes that his music doesn't mean what it used to anymore. It's a sad position to be in, but it's somewhat honest as well. Add to that the departure of Jimmy Chamberlin from the Pumpkins, coupled with the announcement that Billy will be going into the studio, alone, to record as The Smashing Pumpkins, as we have a clear picture of Billy's view of the world:
He is the Pumpkins, and music will continue to be made. The music will continue to rawk and be spectacularly constructed, but if you're looking for music that will save your soul the new CD probably won't be it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stewart vs. Cramer

I finally saw The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from 3/12/09. If you doubt the brilliance of Jon Stewart, go watch. I don't watch The Daily Show as much as I'd like to these days, but it remains brilliant. I wonder how it will be viewed 50 years from now. It's one of those cultural touchstones that pops up every so often and you know it's going to be on "I Love the 2000's" on VH1 in a few years, and enshrined in the Smithsonian for posterity.

In other news, life continues in wonderful fashion, hence the dearth of posts. Of course this year I only have 1 blog to update, so my post count here is fairly consistent :-P It also strikes me that as I grow up there are lots of things I can't say on a blog. With the nature of my work, frustrations with sponsors and such are largely confidential. Steph's job lately has been...interesting to say the least. And frustrations with the father of my children will rarely be posted here, because I don't want this to be off limits to the kids in the future.

So things I can talk about...I've been doing well ramping up my running lately and getting some consistency. Currently I can go about 3.5 miles at the dog park without stopping. Pacing is good, as is music to run by (for some reason "Everlong" is great at sunset looking up at the foothills). There's a 5k Saturday being organized as a benefit for a parent of a kid at Kade's school who has cancer, and Steph & I want to go run it. I think I'll do well.

Jennifer and Paul are coming out in a week and a half to see me, which is exciting. The last time I saw them was a few weeks after Sarah and I broke up. I drove to OK for the weekend and spent the whole time venting about how much my life had quietly sucked for a long time. They admitted to me on that trip how little they had liked Sarah, but had put up with her to hang out with me. It'll be a nice change to have them come out and see how great my world is now and meet my new family. They'll love Steph :-) Also I want to go running with Paul. I know he can go a lot farther than me, but then we'll be on my home turf about 5,000 miles higher than he's used to, so I'd bet I can keep up. He was always a runner and I was jealous of that ability. I think I can not embarrass myself now, under these conditions at least.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lookie there, we're in the paper!

This was the front page article on the Denver & the West section of today's (Sunday) paper. Our picture was the big above-the-fold image. We're famous!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A little too quiet...

That doesn't refer to my blog, but rather to the release of the new ipod shuffle. I live on MSNBC for my news updates, and I completely missed this happening today. 4 GB with no buttons? It's like the flea, but REAL. I actually paused for a sec to think about how close April Fool's Day is. But no, apparently this is real and I kind of want one. (But only kind of...1st I'd like a real ipod. My Mini has served me well, but at almost 3 years old it doesn't function when not connected to a power source, and it's only 6 GB.)

I used to mock the original shuffle. My sister had one and I thought it was dumb. I've stolen Steph's now though. I've taken up running and it's perfect for that. 1 GB will hold plenty of music for a good assortment when running or skiing. It works well for the purpose it was made for. Weird how that works.