It’s clear from interviews conducted throughout the years that Billy Corgan saw Kurt Cobain as his main creative rival during the early ’90s, once stating he believed that Cobain and himself were the two best songwriters of his generation.
But it has never been revealed how deep those feelings of insecurity ran, until now.
In an interview with Amy Jo Martin on her Why Not Now? podcast, he speaks of his troubled state of mind at the time, claiming he felt suicidal due to the breakout success of both Nevermind, and Pearl Jam’s Ten.
“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,” he recalls.
“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.”
Luckily, Corgan was able to channel this malaise into one of his finest songs.
“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.”
Listen to the entire podcast, below.