Billy Corgan Reveals Why He Had ‘Strange Depression’ After Pearl Jam & Nirvana’s Success


Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was recently interviewed on Why Not Now? with Amy Jo Martin. Corgan discussed his reaction to Pearl Jam and Nirvana’s success in 1991. Alternative Nation transcribed the following:

“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. I couldn’t meditate on death anymore than I had, I’d even gotten to the point where, they say it’s very troubling in suicide land if you start giving away your possessions. I’d already been through all those stages, I was giving away stuff, and planning my eulogy, and all sorts of weird self-absorbed things.

I woke up one morning, and I kind of stared out the window and thought, ‘Okay, well, if you’re not going to jump out the window, you better do whatever it is you need to do.’ That morning I wrote, I think it was the song ‘Today,’ which people would probably be fairly familiar with, it’s the ice cream truck video song. It’s sort of a wry observation on suicide, but in essence the meditation behind the lyric is that every day is the best day, if you let it be. So much of life is about perception, you can have mastery over a lot of things, your career, people even have power over their family sometimes, money, you realize that if you don’t have your mind right, none of these things matter. I would put that more in a spiritual category, but the point is perception really does guide how one takes in reality, and then in turn how one succeeds in reality, because without proper perspective, success only becomes like a snake that eventually eats you up too.”