Thursday, 13 August 2015

No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.1.1 - "Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness" (Smashing Pumpkins)

(Here's a music post I wrote up for the Dicky Crisps Radio Show on Facebook. The start of something unrepentantly rambling and pretentious and unselfconsciously self-absorbed. Exactly what this blog is about, basically. This should help cover the musical side of the blog whilst I continue to digest Life After Death for the DCDs project.)

The song so good I named this whole series after it.

I was always very proud of the fact that the first album I bought with my own money was the Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie... Seeing them play "live" on Top of the Pops was a formative experience for 16 year-old me: the idea that if you're not actually allowed to play live you may as well use a toy dog to hit your keyboard for you struck me as incontestably correct [1]. I asked my much more music-savvy mate for a mix-tape of them, and that was it forever.

My friend put a lot of good stuff on that tape, but he only had an hour to play with and several gems failed to make it on the track-list. This was one of them. A quite gorgeous piece of wandering, sorrowful piano with synthesisers haunting the spaces in-between. A lone oboe - real or not, it doesn't matter; the oboe is the only instrument that sounds like a ghost of itself anyway - runs alongside and beneath. I'm always reminded of my favourite line from "Angels in America": 'If the duck was a songbird it would sing like this'. And if the image of a lonely duck singing a sad lament for its missing partner strikes you as both pretentious and ridiculous, then I ask you what better image could you possibly summon to kick off the most ludicrous double album of the 1990s and beyond?

Another friend of mine once failed utterly to find a way to tell a girl he had slowly been going crazy for how he felt, and was so devastated by this failure (he was 15; this is the kind of thing we mistook for profound suffering) he sat and listened to the saddest songs he had. Which is to say: he had this on repeat. The most perfect encapsulation of teenage self-obsessed misery he could find, and there didn't even need to be any lyrics. I knew exactly what he meant.

The first track on the first album I ever bought. Lying in the dark, waiting for the lights to come on. Waiting to get so far from where I was that I wouldn't need this song.

I'll let you know when that happens.

[1] Why they weren't able to play live in the first place is unclear. The Cure (who I also immediately fell in love with, though not to the same extent) were on immediately beforehand and they were clearly giving it some jet-black knee-length wellie. Maybe Corgan wasn't up to it. Maybe he wanted to totally rewrite the song into something unrecognisable and awful, like always, and ToTP was all "For fuck's sake, baldy!"

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