To me, the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins is one of the greatest pieces of art ever created. I say that because this album has touched my soul, it has spoken to my heart for twenty years, and it still does. It’s so strong, so honest, so precise; the lyrics speak of a pain, anger and love—things I know, It’s like the songs were written for me. The album is a journey through heart and soul, pleasure, hope, pain, loss, despair, realization, youth and maturity.
To get the full experience, you need to listen to the entire album with your eyes closed; from the first track to the 28th and last track. It’s perfect.
Art is an individual experience. What touches me might not touch you in the same way; but of course, when something does touch your soul in this manner, you’ll want to share it with other people. So It happens that I’ll tell whoever about this fantastic album.
And then something weird happens.
Not every time, and not everybody does this…still, it happens a lot, and for some reason, it’s almost guaranteed to happen if I’m talking to someone that considers themselves a musician.
They reply something like, “You do realize he’s such an asshole, right?”
“He” being Billy Corgan, the lead singer and the man behind most of the band’s music; and, in fact, the only constant member of The Smashing Pumpkins.
It’s not like they argue if it’s a great album, or that’s he’s got one hell of a talent. He’s an asshole, period. A stated fact that, for some reason, should have some influence on my love for the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
I don’t get this.
Why should I care if he’s an asshole or not? He’s a rock singer, a guitarist, a songwriter, an artist. It’s not like I will ever get to meet him, it’s not like he’s about to marry the daughter I don’t have. I’m not about to hire him for anything. Why should it matter to me what he’s like or not like? I love an old double cd that he recorded twenty years ago.
To me, the art, the music, the lyrics, the way it touched my soul, that’s what matters. Not the guy who made it. In fact, I care so little about him that all I know is his name, and of course that he used to have hair on his head, now he doesn’t. Why would I need to know anything else besides what is to be learned by listening to his songs?
Why would I care?
Because the world is filled with gossip? Make-believe stories about the rich and famous creating illusions of who they are and displacing focus from what should matter or what shouldn’t matter at all?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but none of these people—who feel the need to inform me that the man behind my favorite piece of art is such an asshole—have ever met the man. All they base their knowledge on is rumors, and the fact that the three other members of the original band left the band years ago. This might or might not suggest that he’s hard to get along with, it might suggest they got tired of touring all the time, or they just needed to do something else with their lives. Or he might be the kind of artist who fights for his art, not a popular figure in these damned commercial days but, actually someone I would respect…even if others did find him an asshole.
What also seems to slip their minds is the fact that Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness wasn’t the work of one person, it was a work of a band. The other members of the band, James Iha, D’arcy Wretzky, and Jimmy Chamberlin, all played a role in the creation of the album. Corgan may have been the main factor, but he didn’t do it alone.
Still, you do realize that Corgan’s an asshole?
And what if he is? I don’t care. I don’t have to live with him. I just love his work.