Today, July 27th, 2013, marks the 20th anniversary of The Smashing Pumpkins album release, Siamese Dream. I’m a Pumpkins fan and this happens to be my favorite SP album, so it’s only natural I write about it. This album literally shaped my teen youth identity. I made my own Smashing Pumpkins album covers t-shirts out of t-shirt paint and beads (the Gish one was pretty cool). I collected posters like they were ancient pieces of art from a hundred years ago. And you better believe I can pick up .00009th second of a SP tune and know exactly what song it is. Even the Smashing Pumpkins were present at our wedding…..well, their music was.
The album consists of 13 songs, all masterpieces of music on their own. It was co-produced by the King of music production, Butch Vig. The first song, “Cherub Rock”, is a teenage anthem and one that gets me pumped up and feeling I can do about anything. The video, directed by 90s music video prince, Kevin Kerslake, epitomizes early 90s grunge (hello, destructive techniques turned into art). “Quiet” comes roaring in as second on the album and is anything like the title. It definitely is a good bridge between “Cherub Rock” and the next song that comes in third, “Today.” “Today,” well, where shall I begin? This was the song that really got people’s attention with the lyrics and music video. Rumor is that lead singer, Billy Corgan, wrote this after overcoming writer’s block. Which, in a way, makes sense because if I was overcoming writer’s block as a song writer, I’d think it would be one of the greatest days I’ve ever known too. “Hummer” follows after “Today” and is a trippy, melodic song that literally makes me feel like I’m floating on clouds when I listen to it. The opening lyrics stand alone and are the type of lyrics that you read and feel like they mean something (“Faith lies in, the ways of sin. I chased the charmed, but I don’t want them anymore.”) Number five is “Rocket.” The guitars, bass and drums very much match the title. The music just sounds like a rocket, if that makes any sense. The iconic Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, husband and wife music video directors, were the brains behind the music video for “Rocket.” They also later directed the Pumpkins’ music video “Tonight, Tonight.” They are definitely some of the most creative people that have walked the earth and have made music video history with their imaginations.
“Disarm” is the anchor of the album. It is a hauntingly beautiful song and has definitely made music history. It’s heavy but sweet at the same time. The music video is simple and perfect for this song. One of the all-time best songs to play and hear on the acoustic guitar. Following “Disarm” is “Soma.” As a teen I had no idea what “soma” meant and I didn’t care, still don’t to this day. But whatever it is, it pairs nicely with this somber yet abrupt song. The song begins very softly and then about half-way through, with the strike of a few chords, this song catapults you into a mesh of electric guitars, loud bass and sharp drums. “Geek U.S.A.” comes marching in next. The song title reminds me of an awkward teen that doesn’t know they’ll grow up to be the coolest person ever. “Cherub Rock” is the song that gets your heart pumped and this is the song that revives it half-way through to make sure you’re still breathing. This song is also the only song that has lyrics that somewhat hints to the title of the album, “In a dream we are connected. Siamese twins.” Up next is “Mayonaise.” And no, the title is not spelled wrong, at least as a song title and not the condiment. Of course as a teen, I thought how cool are they to name a song after a condiment! That’s so alternative. But this song almost seems like the heart of the album. Whatever was the inspiration behind this song, it makes you connect with it. This is like one of those ponder life songs. One that makes you reflect on the past, present and the unknown future.
“Spaceboy” is the second acoustic song on the album and uses a Mellotron. A Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard and whoever thought to use this instrument gets a gold star. “Spaceboy” is the type of song you’d hear playing as you’re laying in the cool green grass, staring up to the starry night. As sweet as the title of “Spaceboy” is, the following song smears the sweetness and doesn’t excuse itself for any vulgar. “Silverfuck” really does sound like it doesn’t give a you-know-what-look-at-the-title-of-the-song. This song was sadly censored on a few albums that were sold in “wholesome” retailers. Appearing as “Silvercrank (really??) or Silverf***.” I refused to buy that one because I had to have the one that was the original song title! This song is also the last of the three heart-racing, fist-pumping melodies before the album kisses you goodnight. If you felt dirty after listening to this song, “Sweet, Sweet” comes in to clean you up. This is a poppy little heartland song that seemed to be one of those songs Billy created out of thin air and having a happy high. It may be short but it’s just as strong as it’s friends. Polishing off the album is “Luna.” Wow, what can I say, bravo to the Pumpkins for this little creation. This song was very close to being the song I walked down the aisle to at our wedding (I walked down to “To Sheila” for anyone that was wondering.) This song really sounds like it could be a couple’s “song.” You know, the one that reminds you of your significant other anytime you hear it. The one, that when it comes on, you look at him or her and say, “Aw, it’s our song.” This song really is the perfect nightcap, song long, until we meet again song. One that you can hit repeat on the player and listen to about 75 times before getting tired of it.
Siamese Dream is definitely a landmark album of the 1990s. It showcased this band’s creativity and talent and is an alternative music gem. As grungy as the era it emerged from, this album shines bright among its peers.