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09.08.19 Mellon Collie: Revamped 07.20.19 Pitchfork Fest '19: Bands I Filmed
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Mellon Collie: Revamped

Okay so I’ve been on and off for a while now due to some big life changes (which I’ll probably get into more in my next list), but I’ve had a long drive moving from Chicago to LA that gave me a lot of time to listen to Mellon Collie again. I fucking love this album but its sequencing is totally whack (probably purposefully, because it’s one of the only albums whose imperfections add to its charm), so I had the idea of trying to rearrange it into something a little more digestable, since I think the sequencing makes it hard to listen through all the way, especially coupled with its length. And then of course I wanted to switch out all of my least favorites with my favorites from the b-sides, so I figured why not just re-do the whole thing? We’ll get more into the reasoning behind the changes in each song description.
1The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness:
The title track is pretty much a must-have opener, it sets the mood for the album without getting too far in your face. It also sets the mood of a sunrise perfectly, and locking in the semi-“day-to-night” theme of the album instead of whatever whack interpretation of it Billy had was a big part of what I wanted to do with this revamp.
2The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Zero:
While I think the transition from the last to “Tonight, Tonight” was one of the best on the whole album originally, I decided to change it for other reasons we’ll get into later. Still, we have to hit off with a Big Single, and something that’ll perk the listener up from that sleepy opener. Plus I think the jarring transition works well enough, similar to “Tonight, Tonight” if not quite as glorious.
3The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


1979:
This is such a perfect and iconic song, and it’s very much at the core of what I consider Mellon Collie to be about—working through memories of the past to start focusing on the future—so it was essential for this to be earlier on the album in my interpretation. The melancholy tune hammers in that nostalgic bite I wanted the first disc to embody, along with the rambunctious angst of the heavier tracks. Plus it’s such a massive hit that in retrospect it makes a bit more sense on the first disc.
4The Smashing Pumpkins
The Aeroplane Flies High


…Said Sadly:
And here we are with our first deep cut. Unpopular opinion time, I think this is James’ best song with the Pumpkins, and it totally embodies that sense of longing and misplaced feeling that I wanted to emphasize, especially after “1979.” The duet aspect really works for making it stand out from the rest of the album, and especially from the previous track. While they’re both slower tunes, they’re both crazy different and I think they just sound great together.
5The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Beautiful:
Okay time for one of the weird ones. I always thought this would work earlier on in the album than it did, as it provides a brighter look at an ironic love than the aggressive bite of “Love,” which I thought would work in the more mature, jaded second half of the album. So I kinda switched them? I always thought of them as sister songs.
6The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Fuck You (An Ode to No One):
Yeah so here’s another one of the “rambunctious angsty heavy songs” I mentioned. I tried grouping the emotions of the songs together by disc, which I don’t think lends to too much repetition because of how different all the songs sound regardless. But I just love the propulsive aggression in this song and I think it’s very important in driving everything forward.
7The Smashing Pumpkins
The Aeroplane Flies High


Set the Ray to Jerry:
So this is definitely the come down song from the prior, and by far the best of the songs not originally on this album. I think it’s instrumental to the idea of this album ending in a more mature, hopeful place. I view this as finally facing all the anger of the last song and finally taking a good look at the resentment and paid that it’s coming from. It’s a healing moment, I think.
8The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Thru the Eyes of Ruby:
I kinda hate how twee that opening pianos sounds after the beautiful closing notes of “Set the Ray,” but I can’t argue how well this songs continues the themes of that song. It’s one of the most massive-sounding break-up songs ever, and in terms of facing maturity and overcoming the past, this song contributes massively.
9The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Cupid de Locke:
A brief cheery moment of respite, no matter how sarcastic it may be, this song definitely fits best in the daytime half of this album, and as this side grows increasingly serious, I think this fits snugly between these two intense tracks.
10The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Bullet with Butterfly Wings:
The ugly grit of this song clashes greatly with the decadent beauty of the previous on, shattered through the facade of that track to deliver another solid angsty banger, though this one seems a bit more confident than previous aggressive tracks.
11The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Stumbeline:
I know I’m leaning a bit too much into these abrupt changes to say that this version has better sequencing, but I do think that these tracks work well together pared as contrasts and comedowns. This track was just to lovely to leave off, though I did struggle a bit with finding a proper place for it compared to other slower tracks due to its bare aesthetic. I like it here!
12The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Muzzle:
This sounds like one of the angstiest songs ever recorded, but there sounds to be genuine growth and understanding of the part one plays in their own life, both through love and art. It serves as the emotional climax of the record, and working through it again for this list really made me learn to appreciate it (I was never the biggest fan of it before).
13The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Thirty-Three:
I think this may be the only place in this entire album of pure contentment, dwelling in the past in that classic nostalgic sound yet still looking forward to the future with a tentative optimism. It’s opening yourself up to the possibilities of the future, taking all the pain from before in the album and restructuring it towards a little hope.
14The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Farewell and Goodnight:
Coming off of that last track, this is like an epilogue to the first half of the album. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more bittersweet mix of hope and despair in music, and I couldn’t ever abandon it as a closer. You can tell that in this revamp I kinda looked at each half of the album as an individual arc, the way that this loops back around to the “Mellon Collie” opener, but the next side serves as a sequel in a kind of way, separate but still definitely the same album. I think this approach adds to the listenability to it—it’s easier to digest the album in two sittings than one.
15The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Tonight Tonight:
See, I didn’t lose that transition! The cut from “Farewell” into this is the same as it would’ve been coming right after the opener, plus I didn’t have to lose my dumb disc-arc-loop things. So I see this arc the opposite of the previous, starting out with all the hope and experience that we learned from the first half, but eventually growing jaded with the state of things (but of course ending in a place of some redemption). I just think this is a totally killer opener, and couldn’t imagine it anywhere else but kicking off the night side of this album.
16The Smashing Pumpkins
The Aeroplane Flies High


Transformer:
This is such a funky, unique track that moves in such a way that I think it genuinely could’ve been a moderately successful single is it was ever put out. I just love the freak-out at the end, and wanted a little muscle early on in the album, but not as outright aggressive as “Zero.” Also…
17The Smashing Pumpkins
The Aeroplane Flies High


Cherry:
I’m fucking convinced that this song was meant as a sequel to “Transformer”. That track name drops this song (strangely mentioning “cherry onions” with no context), and I swear to god the distorted cryouts at the end of that track are saying “I need a love—“, referencing this one’s chorus of “I need a lover, lover.” Also I love how the abrupt ending of that tune cuts into the false start of this one. They’re both weird, unique tracks that fit together so well, the transition between the two might be my favorite choice here.
18The Smashing Pumpkins
The Aeroplane Flies High


Believe:
After two decidedly nocturnal cuts, this tune reaffirms the optimistic tone of the first side of this second half (I hate myself). It’s just a beautiful track that I’d feel bad leaving off, and I think it works far better than it should planted right here.
19The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Porcelina of the Vast Oceans:
I see this one as a bright mirror of “Thru the Eyes of Ruby.” Where that was a portrait of a failed relationship, this seems to be an acknowledgement of being hopelessly being swept up in love again, with some fear but mostly acceptance in leaning into it.
20The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Galapogos:
This pretty straightforwardly enforces the themes in the last one, albeit in a more cutesy way. It’s a bit cheesy, but I think it flows really damn well.
21The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Tales of a Scorched Earth:
Okay, I couldn’t resist that abrupt transition, and it works so much better here than with a genuinely moving song like “1979.” Anyway, this used to be the stain on the album for me, but recently I’ve grown to appreciate its pure aggression and drive, even if it’s by far the ugliest song here, who’s to say you can’t use that to the album’s advantage by placing right after the cheesiest?
22The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


In the Arms of Sleep:
Following up that tune is tough, but I think that this one does a great job as a “comedown song (TM),” with the atmospheric night sounds pairing strangely well against the distorted cut-off of the previous tune. Thematically, these two songs clearly represent a massive come-down from the idealistic highs of the first portion of the album, this tune in particular trying to approach them with a mature grace compared to the previous violent reaction.
23The Smashing Pumpkins
The Aeroplane Flies High


The Aeroplane Flies High:
Okay, we’re calling back to the edginess of the first disc here, but I consider the heavier tracks on this one to exhibit a bit more violent control than the scattershot angst of the first disc. All of the heavy ones on this disc are a bit scarier because they feel just a little more palpable and real. Love the acoustic outro too, it lends itself well to flow into…
24The Smashing Pumpkins
The Aeroplane Flies High


Medellia of the Gray Skies:
God this song is just goddamn gorgeous. It seems to grapple with conflicting feelings over a love, someone who makes their life hell yet they can’t imagine life without them. It’s definitely a night-time song, as one can imagine the starscape passing slowly over this tune, it’s serves as a direct counterpoint to the next song…
25The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


X.Y.U.:
Which looks at love from the point of view of a violent act (rape, assault, abuse?), either way, this song is the counterpoint to what the first half of this album was based on. It’s ugly, contorted rage, all delivered by the band in one blistering take. This is how far we’ve been brought down from those earlier highs, this song is the lowest moment on the record.
26The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


Love:
This combined with the previous track create an aggressive reaction to “love.” While that’s purely an internal conflict in the themes, this is more literally how the feelings have manifested themselves. Sarcasm, hopelessness, and regret. While it isn’t as aggressive as the previous track, it’s every bit as angry. This is a very clear callback to the feel of the first disc, but it does show just a little bit of hope in redemption.
27The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness


By Starlight:
Still, given all the growth over the last two discs, it's not a complete cycle. We're able to learn and grow from the hurt still, no matter how bad things may look. So this is a sobering look back at everything, and a final choice of whether to keep on looking back, or to press forward and leave all this drama behind.
28The Smashing Pumpkins
The Aeroplane Flies High


Tonite Reprise:
Okay, so this is a really emotional song for me right now. Turning the lyrics into something more genuine by switching to the first person, this song is literally about growing up in Chicago and finding hope in the future. I just said goodbye to the same hometown and while I'm on top of the world, sometimes it's hard to hang onto hope. This is just a perfect ending to the album, and I dispute anyone who disagrees. Especially how it would cycle right back into the full version if it were on CD!
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