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25 Years of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

4-So

False is the dawn that promises anything
October 24th, 1995, one of the greatest albums of the 90s was unleashed. It's still a stunning work. My personal favorite from the original release is Where Boys Fear To Tread. There's such a nasty, sludgey riff. Love it. There was a remastered release of MC in 2012 that included a lot of the demos and B-sides, of which Dizzle is my favorite. Beautiful instrumental. The full versions of some of the additional content on the re-release can be heard in Pastichio Medley from the Zero single, provided any old fucks like myself are familiar with that one. Another great B-side is Pennies. It may be my favorite Smashing Pumpkins track next to Set the Ray to Jerry.

(YouTube embeds not working, so Spotify will have to do.)







Corgan and Co. announced a sequel album in the works and there is much froth. It's technically a sequel to Mellon Collie and Machina, which are both concept albums that deal with the characters of Zero and Glass respectively, and this new one will complete the trilogy. Smashing Pumpkins may be the most important band I listened to when I was a young'un and as long as Corgan doesn't implode the band (again), I'm quite looking forward to this new material.
 

Wolf

Ancient Nameless Hero
(He/him)
I have the original version of the album that I bought on CD probably somewhere around 2000, which is a bit later than its "moment", but that's because I had it on cassette from a few years prior. Because it was on cassette, my clearest single memory from listening to it is hearing that jarring, grinding/tearing/squealing transition from "Where Boys Fear to Tread" to "Bodies" for the first time, and leaping up from my seat to take the tape out, because I was sure my stereo was "eating" it, and every time thereafter that I heard it, I wondered whether it was damage done to the tape, or whether it was supposed to sound that way. Since none of my other friends were into Smashing Pumpkins, and I therefore never had another copy of the album to compare it to, I was in some doubt about it until I finally listened to it on CD.

Four years ago, my sister turned 21 (I was 34 at the time; there's a bit of an age gap there, yes). I got her a copy of the album as a birthday present. We don't have a huge amount of overlap in our musical tastes, but it was an album of enormous importance to me when I was her age then and younger, through the latter half of my teenage years, at that time of your life when music seems to matter most, when it's most prominent as the background of your life. I mean, music has never been unimportant to me, but when I was younger, it was of almost desperate importance. I identified the times by the music, and in some sense, myself as well, I think. Anyway, I got my sister a copy, because I felt strongly that as someone whose interest in music was more than just incidental, she should have a copy. I wrote her a letter to go along with it, because sometimes I just like to do that. What I told her then is as as true now as it was in the moment: Sometimes there is music that you like, sometimes there is music that's good, and then sometimes there is music that just... speaks to you, so clearly it's almost as if it was made for you specifically. And at that point, questions of good and bad are entirely irrelevant.

If I had to choose one album to take with me through the rest of my life, and only one, it would probably be this one, no hesitation. When I'm furious over something and need to rage and vent, I can listen to "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" or "Tales of a Scorched Earth". When I'm feeling melancholy, there's "Galapagos". If I need something gentle and calming, there's "Take Me Down" or "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans". When I need something big and soaring, there is, maybe a bit clichedly, "Tonight, Tonight". And in general, when I'm feeling detached and off, there's a kind of unguarded sincerity and desperate emotionality to the whole album that can be grounding.

Even though I mentioned a moment ago that when I was younger, the music I listened to helped to identify the times in my life, to crystallize moments in the world both inside and outside my own head, I have no real specific memories of listening to the music. But that's because it was on such constant rotation that it's impossible for me, here twenty years on from the very end of my teenage days, to pin down a particular date and time when it was especially relevant, or most relevant, beyond the tape-eating incident mentioned above. It was always relevant. It still is.

Wait. No. There is one other memory.

When my wife and I got married, about seven years ago, we each chose songs for various points in the wedding and reception. We wanted some of the songs to be ours together, some of them to be hers, and some of them to be mine. One of the songs I chose was the title track for this album. At the time, I just chose it because I thought it would sound right for the moment, because it was something that was "mine" specifically, and that was all. Later, I would think that the song and its use in the ceremony were perfect: We decided that we'd like to have the bridesmaids and groomsmen walk in to that song, before she came in to a song of her choosing. It was, by total coincidence, timed perfectly. And as I think about it right now, it was used perfectly as well, as the quiet, humble prelude to something much greater and longer.
 

Issun

Could be a fren
I never owned this album, but I remember BWBW coming out and rocking my fucking face off. It still does.
 

4-So

False is the dawn that promises anything
When my wife and I got married, about seven years ago, we each chose songs for various points in the wedding and reception. We wanted some of the songs to be ours together, some of them to be hers, and some of them to be mine. One of the songs I chose was the title track for this album. At the time, I just chose it because I thought it would sound right for the moment, because it was something that was "mine" specifically, and that was all. Later, I would think that the song and its use in the ceremony were perfect: We decided that we'd like to have the bridesmaids and groomsmen walk in to that song, before she came in to a song of her choosing. It was, by total coincidence, timed perfectly. And as I think about it right now, it was used perfectly as well, as the quiet, humble prelude to something much greater and longer.
That is beautiful.

I didn't actually get any exposure to MCIS until December of '95, a few months after it came out. At the time, I lived in this sleepy little retirement community in the Ozark mountains, where about half the population (~5000) were over the age of 60. There was just nothing much there for a 15-yo, and while I won't go into the details about why we moved there, I will mention that there was terrible reception for radio and no MTV on the television, so any new music would find its way to me by word of mouth. For whatever reason, I decided to spend my Xmas vacation that year with my dad, and when school broke for the holidays, I went back home to stay with him and his family, one state and about 10 hours away. My stepbrother, a few years younger than me, had been gifted MCIS as an early Xmas present. We were both always into music - I come from a very musical family - and I remember walking in the front door and him immediately asking me if I'd heard the new Smashing Pumpkins song. I said no and he dragged me to his room, put in disc 1 of MCIS, and skipped to Bullet With Butterfly Wings and I was transfixed. I remember the album blaring pretty much constantly that Xmas, and when I finally got back home in January to start the school year again, one of my first stops was to Walmart (the only place in the town you could buy music) to pick up the album for myself.

To this day, I grow nostalgic for the album during the Xmas holidays. I'll put the album on, grab some hot cocoa, and turn the big lights off so there's only the illumination from the Xmas tree, and if only for a moment I'm reminded of the 15-yo that was, his hopes and dreams and fears and confusion; reminded of my kid brother and his crazy energy and wide-eyed wonder; and I remember my father, who passed away almost a decade ago now. Like the name of the album, the memory of that time is melancholy and sad but not without it's own kind of beauty. It was just one of those moments, so personal and so powerful, where you have no idea of its importance as it's happening, and you only come to an understanding and appreciation after it has already well and passed. MCIS is the anchor of that memory.
 
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