Friday, June 27, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #1 Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dream"

Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream, 1993

And so we've arrived here at the #1 position. Anyone who knows me at all probably guessed this would be the album at #1.

Siamese Dream is the only album I have displayed in my house. Smashing Pumpkins are the only band, in fact, to have a place on any of the walls of my house. I have a "shrine" in my room with a vinyl copy of Gish, a ZERO t-shirt, a photo I bought in college, and my original Wal-Mart censored copy of Siamese Dream.

I got into the Smashing Pumpkins through the follow-up to Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. I was spending a lot of my time at my friend's house playing video games and listening to the radio when the singles from that album started playing on the radio. I fell in love with the song "Zero" and my friend made me a tape of the songs from the double album that he thought were the best. They were mostly from the first disc and so, to this day, the songs on the second disc aren't as familiar to me.

While I was stoking the flames of my fandom, I discovered the songs "Today" and "Disarm" and was just blown away. This was one of those "listen to the radio in hopes of hearing them" kind of situations. And so I decided I wanted to get myself into a situation where I could hear them whenever I wanted. I needed to get a copy of Siamese Dream.

I don't remember why there was a delay in my actually getting the album. I don't know if I was saving allowance or what, but I DO remember writing about being excited to get the album in my 8th grade English class.

But then the day came when I went with my mom to Wal-Mart (the local Target hadn't been built yet and so this was the most convenient option in our eyes. Plus we were already there probably looking for clothes or something.) to make the big purchase. This would have been Fall 1996. I found the CD, looked at the back, and found it blank. Hm. Oh, I guess it's just an artistic decision of the band. (Silly silly James)

Once I realized that the CD tracklist wasn't anywhere to be found (I later realized this was the Wal-Mart censored version. The track "Silverfuck" caused them to remove the tracklist. And make no other changes to the album. I hesitated for so long to buy (What's the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis because some of the tracks were blank on the back of the CD and I didn't want to play them and hear all sorts of profanity that I imagined filled them.) it became my mission to figure out what the songs were based on the liner notes which had old pictures with the lyrics and titles hand-written on them. I knew "Today" and "Disarm" from already knowing them and I could figure out "Quiet" and "Spaceboy" and "Sweet Sweet" pretty easily. But the rest of the songs required a little detective work. It turned out that "Silverfuck" appeared in the credits, so that was the song that had no title in the cards. Eventually I had them all figured out but in the meantime, I'd formed this deep connection with the album. It's weird to think about but I might not love this album and this band as much if I'd gotten the uncensored version. Of course I probably wouldn't have been allowed to get an album with a song called "Silverfuck" at all, so I guess sometimes Wal-Mart's oppressive censorship can sometimes work out for the best.

The whole album is beautiful and angry and sad. It's an album I'm so at home with that it feels like a security blanket when I'm listening to. I'd never really realized it until I started typing this paragraph, but it's true. I feel safe and comforted when this album is playing. I guess that's why it made #1.

I know I'm not alone in my love for this album, but when I was young, I had no idea. There wasn't a large, accessible social media network to shout my love for this album to the masses and, even if there had been, I'm not sure if I would have taken the opportunity.

I often credit this album, along with The Simpsons, as the means by which I made my first real friends in Virginia. 7th Grade had been a rough year, friend-wise but, armed with obsessive recall of Simpsons quotes and instructions from Billy Corgan to "Stay cool and be somebody's fool this year" ("Cherub Rock") (I recently actually read the actual lyrics to the song and it dawned on me that the lyrics that I had taken for gospel were actually sarcastic....but that's ok. I feel like you take what you need from music. And the artist's particular intent is not necessarily the end all be all.) and he's declaration "I just want to be me." ("Mayonaise") ("Mayonaise" has permanently prevented me from ever being able to spell the word "mayonnaise" ever ever ever.)

So yeah. It's my favorite album. And in honor of that and the end of this series and everything, here's all 4 music videos for singles released from this album, in the order in which Wikipedia tells me they were released.

Smashing Pumpkins - Mayonaise

You can buy Siamese Dream at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

I want to take a second really quick to thank some people who have supported this project from way back when I was starting to post these things last summer and who have continued to support this project through Likes and Comments (Facebook or otherwise) ever since. So thank you to Jim (Happy Birthday!), Tyler, Chad, Nat, and Kate.

And a big thank you to everyone who read even just this #1 on the list. It's cool to know there's something of an audience out there! THANK YOU.


Anonymous said...

The only album of theirs that I have heard in its entirety is Mellon Collie. Immediately, I hated Corgan's voice, but the more I heard the radio songs, the more it grew on me. I salute your choice and your entire year of albums. Great job.

James! said...

I totally understand people who don't like his voice. For me, his voice is right in the same range as mine. Which certainly hasn't hurt my affection for him/the band over the years :)

James! said...

And thanks!