Billy Corgan Says His Diehard Fans are “Stuck in 1993,” Has a Point

07/16/2010 10:46 AM |

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Of all the rock stars who are constantly saying and doing stupid things, on the internet and in real life, Billy Corgan is among the most infuriating, because he’s actually not a complete idiot. He acts like one sometimes, sure, but he’s always seemed just a little bit smarter than most of his peers. He was interviewed by Rolling Stone before a recent show in Cleveland, and he actually had some interesting things to say, about reunion tours, about changes in the music industry and about his former bandmates. My favorite part, though, is where he talks about his fans, in response to a question about whether he goes online to see what people are saying about his new songs.

If I read anything from let’s call it the “hardcore fanbase,” they are stuck in ’93. It’s 17 years [later] and I don’t know what they expect to have happen. It’s sort of beautiful because what they are saying is, “You so touched me in that moment, I want more of that.” But the thing that I find really insulting is there’s a deeper message there which is “You’ll never be better.” To try to tell a man that he’ll never improve beyond something he did when he was half-crocked on drugs or drama, that’s just not right. When I look at Johnny Cash or Neil Young or Tom Waits, those guys have proven that by remaining vital to themselves, that at some point they are able to burst through with another period.

This is a tricky situation—he’s taking a shot at the people who’ve been most loyal to him over the years, which just doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to do, but also, he’s right. It can’t feel very good to be told your best days are behind you, and I respect him for continuing to try moving forward. A word to the wise, though, Billy? Let us decide when it’s time to invoke Johnny Cash, Neil Young and Tom Waits.

One Comment

  • A thought experiment: How do you think a musicologist, looking only at theory aspects, compositional inventiveness, stylistic range, etc., would rank Corgan, Cash, Young, and Waits? Which of those writers could produce something as complex and purely -musical- as “Thru the Eyes of Ruby,” “Behold! The Night Mare,” or “The End Is the Beginning Is the End”?

    I’m familiar with all of those fellows’ work, and I personally have no doubt that Billy Corgan’s accomplishments as a composer, as a sonic architect, go far beyond what the simpler and folkier Cash, Young, and Waits have done, as wonderful as they are.

    PS: I am not Billy Corgan.