I was thirteen the first time I heard The Smashing Pumpkins. I used to lay on the floor or my bedroom, headphones on, listening to the radio, and hit “record” any time a good song would come on. It was 1994, and this was how I made my mixtapes, way before iTunes, Pandora, and all these new “If you like this, you’ll love this” playlist suggestions came along, totally disintegrating the element of surprise in music-listening. I lived in a farm town in Central California. My mom listened to Amy Grant, my dad listened to Rush Limbaugh. If I wanted to find something exciting to listen to, the solution was New Rock 104.1, a truckload of free time, and plenty of patience.
Anyway, one night, after all my homework was done, I sat down for my ritual music listening session and found it. “Mayonaise” came on–that precious gem amidst the rubble of the post-Kurt era (Bush, Hootie & the Blowfish, Collective Soul, ugh). There was a sincerity and honesty in that song that gave me chills and butterflies.
I instinctively hit “record.”
Less than a year later, Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness came out. It took me a few months to save up my allowance: I earned $2 a week from my mom for vacuuming, dusting, and scrubbing toilet bowls, and Melancholy was a double-disc, which meant big money, but what’s money to a starving music-lover, right?
I loved that album. The drama, the mood-swings, the angst, the poetry–it was the perfect soundtrack to my early adolescence, as I searched for the balance between my dreamy fantasy life, and the reality of my awkward, self-conscious teenageness.
The video for “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” is still one of my favorites. D’arcy was my hero anyway, but after seeing her in the video with her blue hair and silver glittery everything, I started thinking of her as my rock’n’roll guardian angel.
That video looked like how I felt at the time: surrounded by muck and grime and other kids fighting their personal uphill battles, and somewhere in the middle of it, I was on my own stage, beautiful and strange, and not fitting in anywhere.
Sometimes I still feel that way.
|“the world is a vampire… “|
Video stills via.