The Two Bands That Dragged Billy Corgan To A Suicidal Depression

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With elements of goth rock, heavy metal, and psychedelic rock, the Smashing Pumpkins made their debut in 1991 when they released their album ‘Gish’ in 1991. The band reached high commercial success after releasing their album with the lineup of Billy Corgan, D’arcy Wretzky, James Iha, and Jimmy Chamberlin. ‘Gish’ was described as spiritual ascension and had received very positive reviews from critics.

The album is also regarded as one of the greatest grunge albums by many music critics. However, when the Smashing Pumpkins made their debut, there were other bands in the scene that was very well known and coincidentally released worldwide acclaimed albums which seemed to have overshadowed the debut of the Smashing Pumpkins.

Which Bands Overpowered Smashing Pumpkins?

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The worldwide recognized ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana as they made a stunning appearance in the music world with this album. The record was revolutionary in terms of developing grunge music. Although the album harbored musical diversity, ‘Nevermind’ made the band a pioneer of grunge music and started to change the musical scene by becoming an essential creation in the genre.

A month before the release of ‘Nevermind,’ Pearl Jam had made their debut in the industry with ‘Ten’ which also contributed highly to the grunge genre. Unlike other grunge albums at the time, ‘Ten’ was influenced by classic rock, and after a year of its release, the album made it to Billboard 200 as a runner-up and received two Grammy Award nominations. These two critical releases brought Smashing Pumpkins’ vocalist Billy Corgan’s enthusiasm down and pulled him into depression.

Why Was Billy Corgan Pulled Into The Depression?

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The success of ‘Gish’ was very hyping for the band and gave the members hope for their future success. However, ‘Nevermind’ and ‘Ten’ releases made Corgan feel unsuccessful and irrelevant in the industry and his field. His feelings over being shadowed by these two bands dragged him to a heavy depression where he even considered suicide.

In 2017, he stated in an interview that he was on the verge of committing suicide and made preparations for it. He gave away his belongings and was ready to end his life. However, he realized he would not go through with it because there were many things to continue living for and sat down to write the song, ‘Today,’ a 1993 song with dark lyrics.

Here are Corgan’s words about considering suicide:

“The Smashing Pumpkins had put out one album, which was very successful, but as we were out promoting our album, the Nirvana album came out, and as everyone knows, ‘Nevermind’ was a massive album. And then Pearl Jam came out too at that time, and they were massive.

So within a short span of time, I went from thinking I was very successful within my given field to all the rules that had changed in my given field. Everything I had built myself up to be and do was no longer as relevant as it needed to be. I went into a very strange depression because I felt like something had been not taken, but the change made me feel kind of inadequate in a way I wasn’t prepared for.

I went through a very long depression where I could not write songs and really struggled for a breakthrough. It really came off the heels of suicidal depression. I just really struggled with the emotions I was feeling. I reached this kind of morning in my life where it was like I was either going to jump out a window or I was going to change my life.

I know that sounds very dramatic, but that’s literally what happened. I couldn’t meditate on death any more than I had. I’d even gotten to the point where – they say it’s very troubling in suicide land if you start giving away your possessions. I’d already been through all those stages; I was giving away stuff and planning my eulogy and all sorts of weird self-absorbed things.”

He continued:

“I woke up one morning, and I kind of stared out the window and thought, ‘Okay, well, if you’re not going to jump out the window, you better do whatever it is you need to do.’ That morning I wrote, I think it was the songToday,’ which people would probably be fairly familiar with. It’s the ice cream truck video song.

It’s sort of a wry observation on suicide, but in essence, the meditation behind the lyric is that every day is the best day if you let it be. So much of life is about perception. You can have mastery over a lot of things, your career, people even have power over their family sometimes, money, you realize that if you don’t have your mind right, none of these things matter.

I would put that more in a spiritual category, but the point is perception really does guide how one takes in reality, and then, in turn, how one succeeds in reality because, without proper perspective, success only becomes like a snake that eventually eats you up too.”

You can listen to ‘Today’ below.