The Rise of Nirvana and Pearl Jam nearly drove Billy Corgan to Suicide
The more we hear about modern-day Billy Corgan, the more we wish he’d just retreat to his Chicago tea shop and bathe in some soothing chamomile. Dude’s over here crying about “fake news,” trashing Cubs fans, and charging $375 for a box set consisting of a recorded reading of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and some languid drones. If anything’s bound to make us feel something for him these days, it’s the revelations he dropped on an episode of the Why Not Now? With Amy Jo Martin podcast (via Exclaim). There, he talked about how the massive success of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, which coincided with rise of his own career in 1991, had nearly led him to taking his own life.
As he explained:
“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 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, which I’ve talked about a few times. It really came off the heels of like a 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’m 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.”
Thankfully, Corgan was able to persevere, and eventually pulled himself out of that funk by writing “Today”, which remains one of the band’s best songs. “It’s sort of a wry observation on suicide,” he added, “but in essence the meditation behind the lyric is that every day is the best day, if you let it be.”
That’s a lovely message, but one he hasn’t taken to heart, unfortunately. According to former Zwan member David Pajo, that unhealthy competitive spirit is still prevalent. Apparently, Corgan still obsesses over his competition, and he’s got a particularly vested interest in outperforming The White Stripes.
Sounds like dude needs to hug a few more kitties.