HERE IS NO WHY – an in-depth look at “Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness” by Smashing Pumpkins – Part One – “Suffer My Desire”

melloncollie

“In The Arms Of Sleep”

Sleep will not come to this tired body now
Peace will not come to this lonely heart
There are some things I’ll live without
But I want you to know that I need you right now
I need you tonite
I steal a kiss from her sleeping shadow moves
Cause I’ll always miss her wherever she goes
And I’ll always need her more than she could ever need me
I need someone to ease my mind
But sometimes a someone is so hard to find
And I’ll do anything to keep her here tonite
And I’ll say anything to make her feel alright
And I’ll be anything to keep her here tonite
Cause I want you to stay, with me
I need you tonite
She comes to me like an angel out of time
As I play the part of a saint on my knees
There are some things I’ll live without
But I want you to know that I need you right now
Suffer my desire
Suffer my desire
Suffer my desire for you

When it comes to my romantic life I’ve long been the victim or instigator of the unrequited. It is the kind of love that is one-sided and not openly reciprocated and quite often shrouded in secrecy. To this day many of the beloved are not even aware of my deep and strong romantic affection and on the rare occasion when I’ve arisen from my cowardice to admit and express my feelings they have been consciously rejected. The pattern is always the same; a situation is created where I find it difficult to express my true feelings because I have a deep fear of rejection. It is in no way unique and everyone has fell victim to this type of love affair at least once in their life.

Unrequited love has been a frequent subject in popular culture and has a tendency to be viewed as a noble, an unselfish and stoic willingness to accept suffering. There is a degree of euphoria in the feelings associated with unrequited love, which has the advantage as well of carrying none of the responsibilities of mutual relationships. This kind of bliss opens up the artist to “the ache” which is the rush of soaking your existence in the sigh of divine yearning. This wistful or melancholy longing is both addictive and maddening causing any creative person the required muse for their art to be communicated.

For a long time, I felt embarrassed to be so addicted to this rush but as is the case with all artistic pursuits my thirst for understanding pushed me to align with similar minds that also experienced these feelings. In my 20’s I discovered the work of Nick Cave and in particular a lecture he gave about “The Secret Life of The Love Song” and “The Word Made Flesh” where he talks in depth about his creative philosophy. For those who are committed to depth, I suggest you read them on the following link:

https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/nick-cave-and-the-bad-seeds-in-search-of-the-ache-volume-one/

For those who need the instant fix, let me share with you one of the more pivotal moments from the lecture to help highlight a few points about the divine yearn:

“Though the love song comes in many guises – songs of exultation and praise, songs of rage and of despair, erotic songs, songs of abandonment and loss – they all address God, for it is the haunted premises of longing that the true love song inhabits. It is a howl in the void, for Love and for comfort and it lives on the lips of the child crying for his mother. It is the song of the lover in need of her loved one, the raving of the lunatic supplicant petitioning his God. It is the cry of one chained to the earth, to the ordinary and to the mundane, craving flight; a flight into inspiration and imagination and divinity. The love song is the sound of our endeavours to become God-like, to rise up and above the earthbound and the mediocre”

“We each have a need to create and sorrow is a creative act. The love song is a sad song; it is the sound of sorrow itself. We all experience within us what the Portuguese call Suadade, which translates as an inexplicable sense of longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul and it is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration and is the breeding ground for the sad song, for the Love song is the light of God, deep down, blasting through our wounds.”

“The love song must be born into the realm of the irrational, absurd, the distracted, the melancholic, the obsessive, the insane for the love song is the noise of love itself and love is, of course, a form of madness. Whether it be the love of God, or romantic, erotic love – these are manifestations of our need to be torn away from the rational, to take leave of our senses, so to speak. Love songs come in many guises and are seemingly written for many reasons – as declarations or to wound – I have written songs for all of these reasons – but ultimately the love songs exist to fill, with language, the silence between ourselves and God, to decrease the distance between the temporal and the divine.”

“The reasons why I feel compelled to sit down and write love songs are legion. Some of these came clearer to me when I sat down with a friend of mine, who for the sake of his anonymity I will refer to as J.J. and I admitted to each other that we both suffered from psychological disorder that the medical profession call erotographomania. Erotographomania is the obsessive desire to write love letters. My friend shared that he had written and sent, over the last five years, more than seven thousand love letters to his wife. My friend looked exhausted and his shame was almost palpable. I suffer from the same disease but happily have yet to reach such an advanced stage as my poor friend J. We discussed the power of the love letter and found that it was, not surprisingly, very similar to the love song. Both served as extended meditations on ones beloved. Both served to shorten the distance between the writer and the recipient. Both held within them a permanence and power that the spoken word did not. Both were erotic exercises, in themselves. Both had the potential to reinvent, through words, like Pygmalion with his self-created lover of stone, one’s beloved. Alas, the most endearing form of correspondence, the love letter, like the love song has suffered at the hands of the cold speed of technology, at the carelessness and soullessness of our age.”

It is wonderful to hear the way Nick Cave connects the idea of God to the process of creating music. Music for me, both listening and creating, is a process in celebrating the divine shiver we all chase. The spook of existence and those dark chills that haunt us at every twist and turn. It is a faceless God and it adheres to the principles of surrender and giving whilst living distinctly in the imagination. The love song is as Nick Cave says a process in “(with language) filling the silence between ourselves and God, to decrease the distance between the temporal and the divine.”  These words are a truth I believe and before the scientists and the mediocre guitar rock bands among us resort to their atheist fanboy rebuttals I think it’s important to see the difference between the religious God and the God being discussed under these circumstances.

God is not a word or concept to fear, it is the manipulation of the word to suit religious dogma that breeds that argument you all love to chase and disprove but remember regardless of what face your God has (from Catholicism to atheism) it is all a process rooted in “faith” and this philosophy is no different. Nick Cave’s explanation of the divine is my truth and a truth I believe. I feel it gives context to the intense nature in which I like to function on creatively. Does this mean I am religious or in the business of making religious music? Fuck No, and neither is Nick Cave, like I said when you read what he is talking about in these lectures you have to dull down your fear of the word God and what it means in a literal context.

Moving closer to the point of it all, the first song that really stole my heart when it came to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds was “Love Letter” which is from the amazing album “No More Shall We Part.” This was the first album I brought by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds back in 2001 when I was only 18 years old. The whole album resonated with me but the song that I instantly had a connection too was “Love Letter.”

Why do I relate to this song so much?

It comes back once again to a revelation that was spoken by Nick in one of the above mentioned lectures where he referred to the psychological disorder that the medical profession calls erotographomania, which is the obsessive need to send love letters. Whilst I’ve never been diagnosed I can safely say that my relationship with the “love letter” (both sent and unsent) has been a long one.

My “love letters” have become notorious pieces of communication and all of the wonderful women I’ve sent them too over the years have been both moved and disturbed. The reason I say disturbed is because once you pour your feelings into a letter (and I’m talking pages, not just a few paragraphs) and spell out how much you love them it can become overwhelming.

I followed this ritual with every new crush that stole my heart. It helped birth many a muse and increased that yearning deep inside of me. After 2009 I didn’t send or write any more love letters, the damage sustained after my girlfriend Tiffany broke up with me in August of 2009 destroyed my desire for love or the thrill of writing these letters or even obtaining a crush and since 2009 I have not written once single love letter.

From 1991 to 2009 over a period of 18 years I was consistent and a lot of those letters were never sent. A few of them were but a large portion of them remain scrawled in notepads and hidden away in my various journals. The face and the feeling of these women still haunt my mind when I chase the ache. The ones that hurt the most seem to stick out the most and it is the love letters that I never sent them that I read the most when I am looking to erupt the shiver in my soul in order to ignite the muse and the imagination. So in 2001 when I heard the “Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds” song “Love Letter” I was hooked.

I never set out to mimic or be like Nick Cave, it is quite the opposite really. I try my best to learn from Nick Cave but I never wanted to be him. He simply helped me understand those complicated desires swirling within me and gave me the degree of clarity that I was searching for.

If Nick Cave provided clarity to my unrequited love madness then Billy Corgan is quite possibly the main instigator in unlocking and giving direction to my pursuit towards blissed out misery. For the past 20 years I’ve worshiped at the altar of all things Smashing Pumpkins and although my initial attraction to the band was based on their rage and intense heaviness it soon became clear that it was going to be Corgan’s ability to build the perfect sonic landscape for heartbreak and rejection that would be the reason I became so intoxicated by the universe he created with his songs.

An album as diverse as “Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness” doesn’t deserve just one tribute blog, it deserves a whole series and that is what I plan to do in order to give full credit to the impact this album had on my life and how now, 20 years later it still stands as one of the few 1990’s albums that haunts with a mysterious sting. I want to explore the emotional and the science behind what made this record such a big hit for humans all over the world and to help paint a picture of how it managed to change certain aesthetics within the rock n roll landscape.

I hope you have enjoyed part one – I look forward to sharing more with you over the coming week.

Big Love

Dan xo

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