Saturday, February 8, 2014

Song #489 of 9999 - A Song for a Son by The Smashing Pumpkins

Song #489 of 9999

Title: A Song for a Son
Artist: The Smashing Pumpkins
Year: 2009
Album: Teargarden by Kaleidyscope

In my (futile) search for engaging music from 2009, I stumbled upon an interesting story about The Smashing Pumpkins, who seem to be engrossed in a two-decade-long identity crisis. In early 2009, Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, the last remaining members of the original lineup, announced they "would not make another traditional studio album, citing changing listener habits." A couple of months later, Chamberlin promptly split. Corgan soldiered on, convinced that the way to make records was to write, record and release one song at a time. He announced a 44-song project, all of which would be made available for free on the band's website, but would eventually be compiled into some sort of physical deluxe edition and made for sale. The first song he produced for this project is "A Song for a Son."

I don't particularly like the song—it's all right—but I am certainly intrigued by the concept, especially as a songwriter who has released way more one-offs than albums. There's something nice about the immediacy of setting a song free as soon as it's complete and in getting instant feedback, both good and bad. And I think it's a good idea for a guy like Corgan, who seems to have a need for constant adoration but whose records don't have the far-reaching or sustaining power they once had. He can keep his diehard fans and himself sated while maintaining (and perhaps growing) a connection to those who may otherwise stray.

I just think he should do it as a soloist. I'm afraid the brand name "The Smashing Pumpkins" has run its course and, frankly, I think Billy has trouble playing well with others. Unfortunately, Corgan and Co. have only made it halfway through the proposed run of 44 songs and they released a commercial album in the process, which was antithetical to his stated goals. Further, the tracks that were released for free have all disappeared from the band's website, but are now commercially available (natch) as a pair of EPs. I do hope the talented Corgan completes his journey and emerges from the other side with a clearer picture of who he is an artist.

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