Rat in a cage

Is the world a vampire? It’s full of them, pop culturally, which personally, I quite like. Now dear reader, if you’re a die-hard Pumpkins fan, you might like to tune out now, or refer to Song Meanings‘ bank of interpretations from far more learned friends. Following my consumption of a number of fermented beverages this evening, I’m not going to think too hard about this post, but just lay down some reflections on one of my favourite lyrics to date – Bullet With Butterfly Wings

As far as music lovers go, I was what Aussies refer to as a blow-in; a bit late to the party with these maestros. One spontaneous evening earlier this year (a school night no less), a friend convinced me to splash out on tickets to The Smashing Pumpkins’ Sydney show on their Oceania tour. Well okay, it wasn’t spontaneous per se, I’d bought their Rotten Apples greatest hits compilation beforehand for faux street cred. I remember the first time Billy Corgan’s damning metaphor floated out of my adolescent radio, thinking it was The Offspring. It must have gone in, shacked up somewhere and worked its way into my bloodstream because by showtime 15 years later, I was jumping up and down in my seat like a 13 year old, grasping my mate’s hand and then…that darkly fluid, moody baseline. And I wasn’t ready! Completely and utterly unprepared. There was the snarl, the desperation, the misplaced prettiness of the riff, but it was all over too quickly.

I think its genius is simply that it’s an incredible “You are a big [insert adjective]/why does everything have to be such a tit right now/here’s a tune to complete my Songs to Explain Why I Dislike You Intensely playlist” release. No wonder, if you believe Wikipedia, it took from 1993 to ’95 to reach rat/cage status. And what do I get, for my pain?/Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game. Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved. Ahh.

After commiserating with my fellow concertgoer that there was no 1979, no wacky stage outfit, not as much unity in the new band at that Sydney gig, another friend pointed out that when you go to see Billy Corgan and co, you are most likely going “to see a crazy person”. What did that other guy called Billy say? “It’s the next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways, it’s still rock and roll to me”.


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