My Gothy Valentine

For your Valentine’s Day pleasure, allow me to unload unto you a classic-yet-underrated slab of late 20th Century goth romantic mopery: “Stand Inside Your Love,” by The Smashing Pumpkins:

This is actually one of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins songs, because for as much as Billy Corgan is an object lesson in how overcompensating neurotic self-importance can kill, this song is, sonically and lyrically, a flat-out brilliant distillation of everything it means to be adolescent, emotionally inexperienced, and so much fucking in love with someone you don’t know whether to laugh maniacally or blow your own head off. Read the lyrics; they couldn’t be more siphoned out of a teen bipolar’s hidden poetry Moleskine if they tried. Seriously, it’s like Corgan snuck into the room of a kohl-loving 15-year-old cutter and inserted a neural shunt straight into her brain.

Now, maybe you have to have been on the giving end of a massively unrequited crush as a sophomore to have this work for you (ahem), but if you were, pow, it’s all there. I can easily see some kid in 2000 scribbling these lyrics into a Valentine’s Day card for their Eternal Beloved — and then, of course, having said EB say “oh, that’s so sweet,” and then turn around and go out on a date with someone else who totally does not appreciate how magnificently awesome and special they are.

No, I’m not bitter.

( If you’re wondering what lyrics I actually did put into that card when I was fifteen, go here. A slightly more optimistic choice than the song featured above, yes, but then I never really could carry off the goth thing. Alas.)

Another reason to love the song: Excellent use of the subjunctive.

That said, the video itself if an indication of why the song was not more popular than it was; by the time it came out (on Machina/The Machines of God), the Pumpkins had fallen down a well of ridiculously pompous prog-gothery and they wouldn’t be getting back up again. Don’t get me wrong, I love me my German expressionism, Wilde and Beardsley as much as the next totally heterosexual guy (totally! Seriously!), but after a certain point someone needed to pull Corgan aside and say, “dude, stop huffing your own fumes.” Before this video was made would have been good. But the video does remind me that Melissa Auf der Maur makes my ventricles spasm in a happy, happy way. So there’s a silver lining for me.

In any event, enjoy your Valentine’s Day, gothy or otherwise.

27 thoughts on “My Gothy Valentine

  1. It is impossible for the Executive Committee of The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club to enjoy this day without even a brief mention from you of Our Immortal Beloved, the Shining Radiance Who Illuminates the Universe, the

    Wondrous Beauteous Ghlaghghee

    So hop to it, slothful minion, and worship at Her feet.

    Right now.

    The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club

  2. Now, maybe you have to have been on the giving end of a massively unrequited crush as a sophomore to have this work for you (ahem)

    Isn’t that everyone? I still remember my first and last attempt at poetry. “I look at others and see the stars. At you, the sun.”

    Oh Jan where are you now?

  3. but after a certain point someone needed to pull Corgan aside and say, “dude, stop huffing your own fumes.”

    Hell, I would have settled for “do you realize how much that outfit makes you look like Pinhead the Cenobite?”

  4. I read this post with a brow arched, thinking “Wait a minute, weren’t the Pumpkins kind of a neo-glam outfit? Since when were they goth?” before I realized that, while I’ve kept up with the music, I haven’t seen a video or any photos of theirs since about 1996.

    … Wow. Just, wow. The video is amazing in a “I kind of wish I could unsee that” sort of way. It’s beautiful but so ridiculously over the top I couldn’t stop cringing and laughing.

  5. Naive Melody is probably the greatest song ever. The more you hear it, the more you want to hear it. I’m pretty fond of the Arcade Fire version , too. But I don’t know about scribbling obscure lyrics into Valentines; I can just picture a sweaty palmed tween obsessing about which lyrics to use , handing over his damp little love note to a girl who’s never even heard of the song and doesn’t care.Great, now I’m sad.

  6. Well, I got her the album, too. And the object of my affection wasn’t oblivious. She just didn’t like me that way. There was nothing for it.

  7. I have a love/hate thing with the Pumpkins. There’s something about them I can’t stand, but Corgan always managed to get the kinds of sounds I was never quite able to pull off in the days when I played guitar and recorded and dabbled seriously with being some kind of musician.

    It might be something Corgan-specific that hits me the wrong way. He co-wrote a lot of Celebrity Skin (more than Hole fans like to admit, less than Hole critics like to claim), and his contributions to that record are great.

    Also, while on the subject of the Pumpkins, I think D’Arcy and Auf der Mar were both hot in their respective ways.

    Maybe I would have liked Billy Corgan more if he’d just gone ahead and worn the yellow shirt with the zigzag.

    Nah. Probably not. But that still would have been really, really funny.

  8. I have witnessed the full demise of Corgan. My first Smashing Pumpkins experience was in 1996 when me and my traveling partner randomly picked a club to goto while in London. And low and behold the Smashing Pumpkins were headlining at this small club promoting their first album, “Gish”. The show was brilliant, energetic and the music original. I was simply floored. I have since seen them maybe 5 times Corgan’s vocals have gotten progressively worse. So I simply fell out of love with them…
    Anyways. Happy VD day!

  9. Heh, I’m the same with the love/hate. Loved me some Mellon Collie and Machina, but the rest is more of a loathe thing. And I never watched the music videos (except for “Tonight, tonight”) which I absolutely still love.

    And happy valentines day to all. Dunno about y’all but I’ll be cooking up some chicken Alfredo and stuffed Portobello mushrooms for my significant other.

  10. “Read the lyrics; they couldn’t be more siphoned out of a teen bipolar’s hidden poetry Moleskine if they tried. Seriously, it’s like Corgan snuck into the room of a kohl-loving 15-year-old cutter and inserted a neural shunt straight into her brain.”

    Seriously, you need to start writing music reviews on a more regular basis. I’ve never heard anyone depict the sound of Corgan so accurately. You continue to amaze, sir!

  11. Jason Mayo:

    In fact, I was a professional music critic for a number of years. Which would explain that.

  12. Now, maybe you have to have been on the giving end of a massively unrequited crush as a sophomore to have this work for you (ahem)

    Oh, this happened to me between the ages of 8 and 13. Yes, I was in love for about 4 years before I learned better. None of my other crushes have ever lasted that long, although the one I’m in now looks like it might break the record.

    For what it’s worth, by the time I got to sophomore, I was too smart to be caught off balance like that. Take that! You evil heart-breakers!

  13. @Phillip J. Birmingham: Hell, I would have settled for “do you realize how much that outfit makes you look like Pinhead the Cenobite?”

    Oh. My. God.

    In 1991 my parents bought me my first PC, a powerful (for Italy, in 1991) 80286 with 2 MB of RAM and a 40 MB hard disk. There was a program preinstalled, a GIF viewer with nearly one hundred GIF images, to showcase the “multimedia capabilities of the machine.” Most of the images were generic or immediately recognizable (landscapes, animals, a frame from Fantasia), then there was a CENOBITE.GIF file, a man with a net and pins on the face and the word “Cenobite.”

    I was 9, I did not speak English, I had absolutely no idea of what that picture was meant to represent. Looking for “cenobite” on the dictionary was pointless, there was no Internet for me at the time, nobody I knew could help. A couple of years later I made a minor mistake (what the hell are these files, I need space, C:\>del DRBIOS.SYS DRBDOS.SYS) I was forced to reformat the hard disk and I lost the program. Then I forgot the mysterious picture for a loooong time.

    Fast forward about 15 years, February 14, 2008: now I discovered what that fucking thing was. Thank you.

  14. I’ve been the giver of unrequited love on several occasions and I can be a melodramatic drama queen, but I gotta say: those lyrics? Way over the top for even me.

    Pretty cinematography, though.

  15. “My Gothy Valentine”, eh, not so much. However, if someone played me My Bloody Valentine today, I would love them forever.

  16. The lyrics are nice, but you really have to read them. It sounds like a Nirvana song: all mumbling, concealed further by noise. If they could just get those marbles out of their mouths, they might be onto something.

  17. OMG! I didn’t know ANYONE made a music video based on the play I got my online name from!!!! In a way, this means I ADORE the video. But is Corgan John the Baptist???? Or the young Syrian? In a way, I think “Gee, if they hadn’t done that, maybe someone else would have come up with the Salome idea and made a BETTER video with it.” So, in a way I hate it too.

    I’m highly amused, that’s for sure. :)

  18. I was a fan of the Pumpkins from about ’95 until their breakup in 2000, and I have and love everything they put out from Gish through Machina II (yes, there was a Machina II), and I even liked Zwan. What is currently touring under that name is not them; it’s an insult to the fans. I still think Corgan is one of the greatest musicians ever (his solo album and this new abomination aside), but unfortunately, he thinks so as well.

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