Random Song: Bullet With Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins

Despite growing up in the 90s I was never a massive Smashing Pumpkins fan. Their heyday was in the middle of the decade and I was more focused on football. 

I heard a few of their songs and I didn’t dislike the, I just wasn’t captivated in the way I am by the bands I’ve loved. They were just a band who I thought we’re alright.

The first real impact they had on me came courtesy of their guest appearance in one of my all time favourite episodes of The Simpsons. 

One of my best friends, Llywellyn, was a fan and that’s why this song stands out for me. 

During our GCSEs we were in the same English class. We sat at the back and prayed not to get called on to read characters in Macbeth. For years 10 and 11 we were put into sets based on ability and we were in the top one. I can’t speak for Llyw, but looking the class I felt a little out of place. These were the bright kids and I felt like I’d snuck in by mistake.

I expected our teacher, Mrs F, a bit of a hippie, to look at my work one day and then at me and realise that there’d been a mistake. 

Anyway, one of our tests was that we had to read a poem and analyse it in front of the class. Our classmates obviously dug into library books or poems they already knew (someone did a Lewis Carroll and there were a few soppy romantic ones), while the two of us waited until the last few days.

And then Llywelyn produced the liner notes to the Pumpkins’ album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness selecting track six, this song. To class it up we said it was written by “William Corgan”. A few of our classmates smiled at this, clocking what we were doing.

I read it aloud, from the opening “The world is a vampire” right through.

At the time my music listening was almost exclusively pop punk, The Offspring and Blink 182 on heavy rotation and I had absolutely no clue what it all meant.

Enter Llywelyn, who talked for five minutes about a variety of themes and imagery. How much of it was just him winging it I’ll never know but we passed and even got praise from Mrs F for choosing a lesser known piece.

It’s a decent song, starting with a quiet, driving riff before exploding into Corgan’s anguished chorus and crashing guitars. But it’s the link to the past and the fact it always makes me smile that this will always be my favourite Smashing Pumpkins track and have a special place in the soundtrack of my life.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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