Smashing Pumpkins – Today


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The early 90’s brought forth grunge to the mainstream, but it also heralded a new age of what was called “Alternative Rock”. Smashing Pumpkins were in the mix and seemed to bridge the divide between ultra cool indie hipsters and mainstream rockers. In September, 1993 the band released Today as the 2nd single from their 2nd record, Siamese Dream. Say what you will about Billy Corgan’s later records, this is one of the defining songs of the 90’s. Lyrically, the song pulls of a neat trick – it has listeners singing along to the chorus “Today is the greatest / Day I’ve ever known” while somewhat obscuring the dark subject matter detailed in the verses. The song is about Corgan’s suicidal thoughts that plagued him as he went through a deep depression. Corgan himself told Rolling Stone: “”I was really suicidal … I just thought it was funny to write a song that said today is the greatest day of your life because it can’t get any worse.” The song itself has elements of pop, shoegazing, and classic rock – a song that sounds both of its time and timeless.  The song became the breakthrough single for the band, and was made even more popular with its video that played on MTV nonstop (embedded below). Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain, D’arcy Wretzky, and James Iha would go onto even more success with slightly darker sounds – but Today remains an effortless masterpiece, reaching towards the light while mired in darkness.

James Iha – Look to the Sky

In the original incarnation of The Smashing Pumpkins, James Iha was famous for tucking soft rock gems away on b-sides. The songs didn’t sound very much like the ‘Pumpkins but were always enjoyable side diversions. Remember “Blew Away” or “Believe” from the Pisces Iscariot and The Aeroplane Flies High…b-side / rarities compilations? Songs that hinted at an alternate version of The Smashing Pumpkins – sun-kissed country vibes, cousins of Neil Young at his most laid back. James Iha finally released a very strong debut album in 1998 entitled Let It Come Down. The strengths of the stray ‘Pumpkins songs that Iha had penned had only hinted at what the debut album would offer. It was an easy-going record, reminiscent of the soft rock masterpieces from America in the early 70’s. The world seemed ready for Iha to launch a full-fledged solo career and so…nothing happened on the solo front for years.

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The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

Mark E. Smith of The Fall once had this quote about the ever revolving cast of his band “If it’s me and your grandma on bongos, it’s The Fall.” Throughout history bands have continued on as various members have left (or were fired) until its only the lead singer with basically a new band backing them up. I’ve enjoyed bands that have carried on under these circumstances and was pleasantly surprised when The Smashing Pumpkins reunited in the mid 00’s (minus D’arcy and James Iha). I’m going to be honest – I really enjoyed their 2007 comeback album Zeitgeist almost all the way through. Jimmy Chamberlain anchored down the drums as in the old days, and it was a (mostly) amazing return to glory.

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