Song 8: Smashing Pumpkins, “Today” (1993)

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Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins came out 20 years ago. You are an old person!

I remember where I was when I first heard “Today”: on the school bus (Bus 2! Holla!). Given that I was en route to junior high for another day of adolescent angst, I’m sure the song came as a breath of fresh air, a welcome reprieve from the usual dread. I remember thinking, “This is what Smashing Pumpkins sound like??” It sounded too catchy and pretty to be a hip “alternative” band (even considering the song’s pitch-black bridge). Siamese Dream and the Lemonheads record It’s A Shame About Ray became my gateway drugs to “indie” rock (though both records were on major labels). Before “Today,” I was into the Beatles and Billy Joel, and I was generally scared of anything the cool kids were into.

Though its stylistic choices sound like pure nineties, Siamese Dream holds up just fine today. Its navel-gazing was certainly a nineties trend, but it’s also just what Billy Corgan does, which makes the record’s solipsism more of a songwriting style than a reflection of a bygone era. (Compare this to, say, Bush or Candlebox, who could only exist in the Clinton era. At least I hope so.)

“Today” remains one of my favorite songs, mainly because of that glorious release of a chorus, awash in triumphant distortion. It’s easily the best thing Corgan ever did, which, considering the greatness of the next couple of records, is saying something.

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