Leave that Smashing Pumpkin Alone, Bitches: In Defense of Billy Corgan

In an age of premature nostalgia, Corgan clearly wants his music to matter in the present tense.
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If you're only going to have one original member of Smashing Pumpkins left, at least we've got the right man for the job. Yes, Jimmy Chamberlin is an amazing drummer, and he strikes me as a really lovely guy too based on spending some time interviewing him in recent years. Yet let's all face the facts: more than most groups, Smashing Pumpkins is -- and always has been -- first and foremost the fantastically tense creative playground of one wildly talented singer-songwriter and musician named Billy Corgan.

Now truth be told, I was not the biggest Pumpkinshead during their initial run -- I was more of an aging Nirvana-man, frankly. But over the past decade, I've come to really admire Corgan for his talent and his strong commitment to following his own muse rather than simply taking the standard issue rocky path of least resistance. Like Pete Townshend before him, Corgan seems like a man who takes the responsibility of being a rock star profoundly and even painfully seriously, grappling intellectually with the gig rather than just cashing in at every turn. As a result, Corgan may not always make things easy on his fans -- or on himself -- but he's always interesting. In an age of premature nostalgia, Corgan clearly wants his music to matter in the present tense. Not that he's a complete purist, as demonstrated by the recent use of the Pumpkins' classic "Today" on a Visa commercial.

But I choose to embrace Corgan in all his contradictions. And despite his apparent problems working and playing well with others in a band context, I have to report that I have found him to be incredibly bright, witty and honest on a personal level. To see some of the qualities on display, tune in April 2nd when Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin make what now looks like it will be their last shared TV appearance with the current Pumpkins lineup on the Chris Isaak Hour, a new show on the Bio Channel that I really love even if I am a producer on it.

Until then, don't give into Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness just yet -- and please, leave that Smashing Pumpkin alone, bitches.

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