Melon Collie turns 20…

20 Years ago… One of the most prolific albums, a soundtrack to my life personally, was released by Virgin records on this day.  10/23/1995.  What an album and what a year.  For me, this album said everything about myself and my generation at the same time.  Personally, this album was right were I was mentally at the time– raging, yet eternally all over the place, happy, depressed, sad, swarmed by people, lonely, everything.  That summer was the last summer I would work in Yellowstone park, bleeding into the late fall, the summer of a complete breakdown of several relationships, I was literally travelling between Seattle, Yellowstone and Buffalo trying to figure out where I really was going to live, how I was going to end up– I was 23, headed to 24 and I was a mess.  It was time to grow up or not– but I needed to figure out where next was.  I was so old, right?

The album itself was a much different take on what was the Pumpkins previous takes, both of which had been the soundtrack of those college years at Buffalo State– Disarm was the AEPI initiation song, courtesy of David Blaustein.  When Mellon Collie came out– a risky double album, intended to be a legendary album, it was an instant hit, with Bullet with Butterfly Wings really launching the album, but it wasnt the poppy hits that really resonated with the album for me, it was the work as a whole, the emotion that Corgan was belting out along with all of the rock– the anger and the sadness blended perfectly together– the band assisting with this assault.  5 songs total were the “singles”, timely released over a year– from Bullet to 1979 to Tonight, Tonight to Zero to Thirty-Three.  The songs were meant to be played together– the discs, one red, one blue, represented night and day.

melloncolliediscsThese two discs were purchased at least 5 times as one set would get worn out and I would need to repurchase when my disc player in my car would no longer play them without erroring or skipping.

(Side Note)The only other CD’s to be purchased multiple times were Dave Matthews Band Live at Red Rocks, Crash and Everclear’s Sparkle and Fade.

In all, MCIFS is 28 tracks total– although the new box set, released 2 years ago, it adds additional sessions, outtakes, songs that never made the final wax, etc.  For years, I stuck to the traditional 2 disc set — until today.  Today is the first time, waxing nostalgic, that I decided to give the additional tracks a listen and they are a nice additional layer of sound, but they are all subpar to what was selected for release.

My generations music (and I am sure most people/generations say the same thing)was the beginning of the end of rock.  Bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Pearl Jam were at the tail end of the rock anthem style of music.  Radiohead started out in the same category, but the saw the changes coming in rock, pivoted and became much more electric in their sound– bands like the Pumpkins, who were powerful in their songwriting and its sound, really began to lose out to pop and hip hop.  Mellon Collie still spoke to the rage, depression and wanderlust that all 20 somethings felt in the mid-90’s.  Despite all of our rage, we are just rats in a cage spoke to a generation of people wandering.   For me, personally, the songs roller coaster of emotion were what I needed to get through a difficult time in my life- a time where I felt like the Zero he was talking about– “I never let on, that I was a sinking ship”, “Emptyness is loneliness, Loneliness is cleanliness, cleanliness is godliness and God is empty, just like me.” “I’m in love with my sadness”– all of this speaks to an entire generation of us– we felt like everything was wrong with the world and it was all on our shoulders.

The album goes through the various stages of grief, anger, sadness and it does it gradually, building itself into powerful rock ballads like Bullet with Butterfly wings and then taking it down into songs like “To Forgive”, I learned my loss before I even learned to sleep.  Corgan comes clean into all of us, broken families, broken relationships, were damaged goods– even if we didn’t come from the dark places he spoke of, we were familiar enough with them that we understand what he is so remorseful in songs like “To Forgive”.  He doesn’t stay there long through– the very next song, An Ode to No One, he takes a different tone, a harder tone– “To Forgive” does just that– but “Ode” erases all, disconnects it all, moves it forward, get strong, move on.  As I move through the album, I remember all of the words, but I recognize so few of the titles, another sign of a great album.

But because of when it came out and where music was at that time, will it ever be that classic on the shelf that stands the test of time like other albums that really define a band?  Will it be in the same place as Physical Graffiiti?  Exile on Main Street?  The Wall?  My perspective is that these other albums, as mentioned above, do they speak or carry the emotional power that Melon Collie does?  Because music is all about experience, our own experience with the art, it’s difficult to make a case either way and its frankly irrelevant.

Here we are 20 years later.  Crazy to think about it.  Is this at the top of your list of top albums?

Heavy on my mind…

I felt the same way that Obama did when he gave the speech this past week– here was our president again, saying how senseless the violence is, how it should be different.. and then he gives the examples that we all know– we have a congress that is split and because of that split, nothing gets accomplished.  This country doesn’t get to move forward, we stay in the same place, neutral.  Neutral isn’t safe, its not progressive and its not liberal, its status quo and status quo is killing people– its killing people in daily gun shootings, its killing people in mass shootings, its killing small children.  It’s not something anyone wants to talk about.  I don’t want to be blogging about it right now, but I am going to because I can’t stop thinking about it.

I don’t live in violent America.  I have fired a gun four times in my life.  If I don’t ever do again, I am totally fine with it.  Guns are not necessary is any format, the only reason that police need guns is because they are out powered on the streets– there are way too many weapons on the street for police to not have to use lethal force when necessary, I get it.

What I don’t get, what I have never gotten, is people’s need to defend the 2nd Amendment so feverishly.  I don’t get how you can look time and time again at someone mowing down innocent lives (and don’t tell me that those kids in New Town weren’t innocent) and everyone not want legislation to make this country safer.  (We have terrible accidents on the road, we fix the road.)  I think that more than half the people in this country want less guns, have no need for guns, don’t own guns, etc.  I think 20% of the population want guns, for hunting, for home protection, whatever.  One gun, maybe a rifle, etc.  I think 10% want to own more weapons, find weapons cool and interesting, want to own power, want to collect power, etc.  Even that, I think is fine in moderation and control.  You want high powered weapons, you can have them, but you need to pay a lot of money to own them and you have to go through a background check every couple of years, you have to register firearms and notify a registry when the weapons are taken.  Essentially, you have to pay to play.

Again, I think the majority of Americans would approve this if they were allowed to actually vote on this– cigarettes, when I was 21 were $2.40 a pack.  20 years later, they are $9.40 a pack.  You pay to play.  Same should go with weapons.  The choice to tax the shit out of cigarettes came from the states and gun control legislation has to come from the states — and it does.  Oregon has a new law in place where everyone has to get a background check– so the shooter from last week should have had to pass a background check in order to obtain those weapons (14 WEAPONS).  All of these were obtained legally, so the rhetoric is that these background checks don’t stop these “insane people” from killing people.

So the gun advocate then changes the conversation on how we should be dealing with mental health– in essence gun advocates find a deeper rabbit hole of social concern to divert our attention.  If we simple locked up the crazies, we would all live in a fair and protected, well armed society– after all, an armed society is a polite society, right?

The solution lies in the middle.  Our government can’t find the middle and this is directly due to the impact of the lobby of this country– and with gun control, it sits directly with the NRA.  Over the coming weeks, we will hear more rhetoric from the NRA, just like they did right after Columbine– after all, their national convention was the next week in downtown Denver– where Charlton Heston famously held the rifle and proclaimed that they will only take his gun “From his cold dead hands”.  Since that tragedy in the early 90’s, the right has been smearing anyone who advocates stricter gun legislation and it’s been very successful.

But all of this is short lived, according to ABC news:

But the more we see these killings, the more it will prompt us to act– but we can only vote on legislation if our leaders put it in front of the people for a vote.

Here’s the list, to refresh your memory:

April 1999 – Two teenage schoolboys shot and killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, before killing themselves.

July 1999 – A stock exchange trader in Atlanta, Georgia, killed 12 people including his wife and two children before taking his own life.

September 1999 – A gunman opened fire at a prayer service in Fort Worth, Texas, killing six people before committing suicide.

October 2002 – A series of sniper-style shootings occurred in Washington DC, leaving 10 dead.

August 2003 – In Chicago, a laid-off worker shot and killed six of his former workmates.

November 2004 – In Birchwood, Wisconsin, a hunter killed six other hunters and wounded two others after an argument with them.

March 2005 – A man opened fire at a church service in Brookfield, Wisconsin, killing seven people.

October 2006 – A truck driver killed five schoolgirls and seriously wounded six others in a school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania before taking his own life.

April 2007 – Student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 15 others at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, before shooting himself, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the United States after 2000.

August 2007 – Three Delaware State University students were shot and killed in “execution style” by a 28-year-old and two 15-year-old boys. A fourth student was shot and stabbed.

December 2007 – A 20-year-old man killed nine people and injured five others in a shopping centre in Omaha, Nebraska.

December 2007 – A woman and her boyfriend shot dead six members of her family on Christmas Eve in Carnation, Washington.

February 2008 – A shooter who is still at large tied up and shot six women at a suburban clothing store in Chicago, leaving five of them dead and the remaining one injured.

February 2008 – A man opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, killing five students and wounding 16 others before laying down his weapon and surrendering.

July 2008 – A former student shot three people in a computer lab at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona.

September 2008 – a mentally ill man who was released from jail one month earlier shot eight people in Alger, Washington, leaving six of them dead and the rest two wounded.

October 2008 – Several men in a car drove up to a dormitory at the University of Central Arkansas and opened fire, killing two students and injuring a third person.

December 2008 – A man dressed in a Santa Claus suit opened fire at a family Christmas party in Covina, California, then set fire on the house and killed himself. Police later found nine people dead in the debris of the house.

March 2009 – A 28-year-old laid-off worker opened fire while driving a car through several towns in Alabama, killing 10 people.

March 2009 – A heavily-armed gunman shot dead eight people, many of them elderly and sick people, in a private-owned nursing home in North Carolina.

March 2009 – Six people were shot dead in a high-grade apartment building in Santa Clara, California.

April 2009 – An 18-year-old former student followed a pizza deliveryman into his old dormitory, and shot the deliveryman, a dorm monitor, and himself at Hampton University, Virginia.

April 2009 – A man shot dead 13 people at a civic center in Binghamton, New York.

July 2009 – Six people, including one student, were shot in a drive-by shooting at a community rally on the campus of Texas Southern University, Houston.

November 2009 – US army psychologist Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, leaving 13 dead and 42 others wounded.

February 2010 – A professor opened fire 50 minutes into at a Biological Sciences Department faculty meeting at the University of Alabama, killing three colleagues and wounding three others

January 2011 – a gunman opened fire at a public gathering outside a grocery in Tuscon, Arizona, killing six people including a nine-year-old girl and wounding at least 12 others. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured with a gunshot to the head.

July 2012 – Masked gunman James Holmes opens fire at midnight cinema screen of new Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and injuring 58.

August 2012 Gunman kills six people at SIkh temple in Wisconsin before being shot dead by police. Suspect is named as white supremacists Wade Michael Page.

December 2012 – Adam Lanza, 20, forces his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He kills 20 first-graders and six adults. Before arriving at the school, he had killed his mother at their home.

June 2013 – John Zawahri, an unemployed 23-year-old, kills five people in a rampage which begins at his father home and ends in Santa Monica College’s library.

September 2013 – Aaron Alexis, a Navy contractor and former Navy man, engages police in a running firefight in the Washington D.C. industrial complex before being shot and killed. Thirteen people were killed and three injured.

May 2014 – Elliot Rodger opens fire in the campus town of Isla Vista, California from inside a black BMW, killing seven people. Rodgers acted alone and written and video evidence suggest the attack is premeditated.

June 2015 – White supremacist, Dylann Roof, begins shooting in a historic black church in an attempt to start a race-war. He kills nine people.

August 2015 – Vester Lee Flanagan II aka Bryce Williams shoots dead two former colleagues from the WDBJ7 news team.

August 2015 – Chris Harper-Mercer kills 9 people and injured 20 at Umpqua Community College.

We must do better.

One last thing:  Here’s a “Safety” law in Georgia:

The question is:  How do we change this rut we have dug ourselves into?  How do we change government so that We The People means something again?  Comments are welcome.