Sometimes, our musical preferences say absolutely nothing about our views


In the 1990s, I heard a lot of Smashing Pumpkins music around my house, because my daughter was really into it. I’d ask what she thinks of Billy Corgan now, but it might be a sensitive issue.

Of course, back in the 1970s I hung out with people who listened to a lot of Ted Nugent.

I’d rather not talk about it.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    I just read this story yesterday. I love “vintage” Pumpkins. “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” is on of my all-time favorite albums. Now…


    I suppose this is one of those serperating-the-art-from-the-artist deals like with Lovecraft or Wagner?

  2. says

    I read that at Raw Story the other day, Corgan just blathering on about how SJWs are destroying freedom of speech. Idiot. He would have done better to save opening his mouth for singing.

    Of course, back in the 1970s I hung out with people who listened to a lot of Ted Nugent.

    I’d rather not talk about it.

    I never cared for him, even back then, but yeah, a lot of people I knew listened to him. I’d rather not talk about it either.

  3. lactosefermenter says

    Well, I still like and listen to Ted Nugent’s music but I can’t stand him and his politics. I will admit I find it harder and harder to separate the two.

  4. ck, the Irate Lump says

    As much as I may have enjoyed the Smashing Pumpkins music in my youth, I find it really hard to listen to today. In my opinion, it didn’t really age well compared to many of the other works produced around the same time, and it doesn’t work well for me outside of that environment.

  5. penalfire says

    Plenty of great musicians and composers have odious political views.

    Wagner wrote antisemitic essays, Dave Mustaine supported Rick Santorum
    in 2012. Götterdämmerung and Rust in Peace are still among the greatest
    musical accomplishments of all time.


    The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and
    ill together: our virtues would be proud, if our
    faults whipped them not; and our crimes would
    despair, if they were not cherished by our virtues.

  6. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet little agony.

    See, this is why you don’t get rid of your hair. Samson lost his strength. Corgan lost his ability to tell that Infowars is not a serious site for serious people with serious ideas. Baldness – not even once.

  7. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    To be fair, he was always a little… you know… but his music was cool at the time. I agree with ck that a lot of Smashing Pumpkins’ music hasn’t aged well, but I was always more a fan of their lighter stuff anyway, and that is generally doing better in the aging stakes… in my opinion.

  8. lotharloo says

    …assertion by Infowars host Lee Ann McAdoo that a vast liberal conspiracy is actively censoring conservative news from trending on Facebook.
    “They can take your free speech and hide that line of code so it never trends, or the algorithms will just shut down and you won’t be able to reach your audience,” she claimed.

    Those goddamned liberals! First, it was the truth, then, it was Math, and now it is algorithms. There’s no escaping the goddamned liberal bias!

  9. Holms says

    Most times, our musical preferences say absolutely nothing about our views

    Fixed. I had no idea what Corgan’s political views ever were, and now that I’ve found out, it chanes nothing regarding my appreciation for Smashing Pumpkins music. I was mildly into them in the 90’s, and I’m mildly into them today. I still listen to Cat Scratch Fever!!!2!

  10. says

    I always find it weird when someone is out on the web talking loudly about free speech being impaired.
    Uh, how’s that impairment working for ya?

  11. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    From Billy’s interview:

    The tactics in the social justice warrior movement are to stifle and shut down free speech […]
    And I would argue in the world that I live in, which is the bareknuckle world, they’re leveraging their position because they don’t have power.

    Huh? I get that someone whose music I may enjoy can have political views far different from mine, but why do they always sound so nonsensical in expressing them?

    So, SJWs “don’t have power,” therefore their tactics “are to stifle and shut down free speech”? Corgan is a freaking rock star, Smashing Pumpkins had its albums certified platinum many times over, I don’t think he has much to complain about free speech being stifled, certainly not if it includes haranguing people about the supposed evils of social justice.

    Of course what he really means is that people who disagree with him can more easily express themselves than they could have in the past, the same way something as loony as Infowars is pretty accessible today. Never mind that his statement “A socialist is running for president” has been used to disparage Democrats for nearly a century.

  12. mnb0 says

    One artist whose political views are close to mine is Rage Against the Machine. Damn is that music boring.
    As for Ted the Nuke we can always point at the excellent song

  13. gijoel says

    Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me. He was always a miserable misanthrope. Now he’s taken his hate of his fellow band members and extended it to everyone.

  14. Vivec says

    Continuing the trend of people I kind of like being weird Alex Jones fans, both Mustaine and Mike Judge (aka King of the Hill/Beavis and Butthead) are big fans and did promos for the Alex Jones show.

  15. says

    Better to resist the urge to say ‘shut up and sing’, the Dixie Chicks got that enough from the right wing.

    I still like my old Smashing Pumpkins tunes. Now, the ice cream truck’s jingle, that is genuinely ruined for me. So would Smashing Pumpkins I suppose if Corgan showed ‘Mayonaise’ was secretly about oppressing minority voting or somesuch. He’s a musician. I don’t expect artists, or anyone really, to fit my POV on everything, or be *good* at anything beyond what I grew to like them for.

  16. says

    Hmmm… a white guy used to getting his way decides society is crumbling the second someone not white and male is rude to him on the internet. Yah don’t say?

  17. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Smashing Pumpkins was big at a time I wasn’t listening much to popular music, so I don’t know much about their music, but Corgan did set up one of my favorite Homer Simpson lines:

    “Billy Corgan, Smashing pumpkins” (sticks out hand).
    (shaking hand) “Homer Simpson, smiling politely.”


  18. robro says

    I’m a musician, and of course, know quit a few. Why anyone would give the political views of a musician any more credence than anyone else has always escaped me.

  19. fishy says

    Back when I was still out in the bars playing in cover bands I would roll in on early Sunday mornings smelling of stale beer and cigarettes and pass out on the couch for a few hours. If I was lucky I’d wake up in time to watch the Bozo Show which always seemed a treat in my strung-out state.

    I remember catching the final episode and hearing Billy Corgan do a cover of Dylan’s, “Forever Young.” I thought it was generous and sweet. As I recall, I got a little misty.

  20. says

    robro @ #19:

    It’s not about credence so much as disappointment. I’m very careful not to delve too deep into the non-musical parts of my favorite artists’ lives. I don’t know how well I would take if, say, Robert Plant was an Evangelical Tea Partier who thought that science is a hoax from the devil and that there’s no such thing as bigotry against anyone but straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men…

    I have no interest in hearing Steven Wilson’s political views, because there’s definitely an… interesting… undercurrent to his music (from No-Man to Porcupine Tree to his solo stuff) already, which has me worried despite how utterly brilliant his music is… it would disappoint me, but not entirely surprise me, if he had similar ideas to Billy Corgan, not least because his music has a very strong element of misanthropy throughout…

    Not that misanthropy is an entire giveaway, because I’m a misanthrope myself (I generally hate humans, and consider “why are people?” to be the most perplexing question in the universe), but that doesn’t stop me from being left-wing and wanting to take part in creating a better world for future humans.

    Sometimes I think Pink Floyd and Nirvana are the only bands I listen to with similar worldviews to my own…

  21. says

    Sometimes I think Pink Floyd and Nirvana are the only bands I listen to with similar worldviews to my own…

    Well… maybe Soundgarden, too…

  22. Ryan Cunningham says

    Gen X child of the 90’s here. I deleted all of my Pumpkins albums after I saw this interview. I’m a progressive now because Kurt Cobain was a sweet and thoughtful man who taught me to be a feminist and support gay rights. The best musician of my generation was on the right side of history, and I’ll always be the same. No going back. Screw Billy. I will fight for the rights of the marginalized. Thanks, Kurt, for being a cool SJW.

  23. Ryan Cunningham says

    “Plenty of great musicians and composers have odious political views.”

    And plenty don’t. Why give the jerks our attention? Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder were both been great about social justice. Who needs the jerks? There are more than enough sweethearts.

  24. Ryan Cunningham says

    Oh, need a replacement for Pumpkins? Cloud Nothings. Done. Now you really never need to listen to Billy again. Forget the rich crying man child who is hurting marginalized people. Support a young, brilliant artist making great music today.

  25. penalfire says

    Ideally one could replace them with a different brand, the way one might
    shop at Abe Books instead of, but great musicians and composers
    are not as easily replaceable. There is no substitute for Wagner.

  26. says

    I never liked Ted ****Nugget in the 1970s, even before he displayed his political ignorance. People (rightfully) questioned David Bowie’s legacy after is death because he perpetrated statutory rape on an underage girl; Nugent did that many times over yet we don’t hear much about that from the corporate media. As for draft dodging, at least the members of Heart moved to Canada and continued working on their music, they didn’t urinate and defecate on themselves to get out of it. And Billy Corgan? I never listened to him in the 1990s, so nothing’s changed.

    Steve Miller was recently inducted into the “rock and roll hall of fame” and gave his opinion of it, both publicly (nicely, advocating more inclusion of women) and backstage (in a rant, critcizing how the whole thing is run). His choice of words this year are the same as his politics and opinions from way back in the 1960s as a flower child. Sometimes people don’t change, and it’s a good thing.

  27. astro says

    smashing pumpkins? the textbook example of complaint rock?

    the guy who whined at lollapalooza, because everyone started leaving after the beastie boys? i can clearly recall WATB corgan pouting – actually stopping a song to whimper, “it’s really rude of you to leave during the main act.” i am not making this up.

  28. Ryan Cunningham says

    More Pumkins replacements: The Pain of Being Pure at Heart and Wavves. They’re also exploring that sound today. Chuck Billy’s hateful ass in the trash bin like me. We got plenty of bands from that era to be proud of and plenty of bands today building on that sound. We don’t need to continue to give a platform to a jerk.

  29. anbheal says

    Well there’s also a difference between some ill-chosen remarks, probably revealing that you’re a bit hateful, or at the very least sheltered, versus making a career out of spewing bile. Let’s say Michelle Shocked’s little anti-gay tirade, once….or some soul singer saying intemperate things about any who don’t believe in His Lord Jesus. But then shutting up. Okay, you can then say she’s a homophobe or he’s an anti-Semite, and decide whether to continue giving them a listen. But they aren’t going n the talk-show circuit, or getting their own programme on Fox.

    There’s also a difference between some people who make a bit out of a career out of taking a political side, but do so without the hatefulness. Jackson Browne. Sting. Bruce Springsteen. Woody Guthrie. Pete Seeger. But you never heard them spewing venomous bile, the veins on their foreheads bulging with rage. Moreover, they always seemed to be punching up, rather than down.

    Finally, I think there’s a difference between an artist who does something bad, but doesn’t promote badness as a personal crusade (Polansky, Bowie, Pete Townshend, e.g.). If you want to watch Rosemary’s Baby or listen to Slip Kid, you’re not supporting somebody who advocates consistently for pedophilia or rape.

    But with Corgan, Nugent, possibly Toby Keith, a few others, it is so incessant, so bilious, so unpleasant, and invariably picking on the disenfranchised (or, in Corgan’s case, anybody sticking up for the disenfranchised), that IMNSHO it crosses an ethical line, divorced from Right vs. Left, or saying something stupid that you’ll regret later, or having committed a crime. I say throw out the albums, find someone who’s worth listening to.

  30. Marc Abian says

    Interesting. I don’t care one jot. I wonder if I would if I didn’t think Siamese dream was the greatest album ever made, or if there was anything he could say that would make me care?

  31. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Corgan’s bright, shining moment was the glorious deluge of feedback at the end of “Drown” on the Singles soundtrack (which, of course, radio stations always cut off on the rare occasion they play it), and he basically ripped-off the idea from My Bloody Valentine anyway, so… ;)

  32. Von Krieger says

    Corgan’s also a producer, director, writer, and the head of talent relations for professional wrestling promotion TNA, which got some flak recently as they’re having financial issues and appear to be in talks to sell a share of the promotion to a company whose pro wrestling representatives are a literal pair of skinheaded neo-nazis complete with SS logo tattoos.

  33. Nick Gotts says

    “I believed at that time that the planet …was warming,” he wrote three years later in a 2010 Q&A session on Facebook, where he later deleted his entire page. “Until I did research and found out it was all an orchestrated scam. Planet has gotten colder [in the] last 10 years. Hence the not so subtle change in the media from saying ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change.’ It is all connected to trying to make us all pay more taxes for our ‘carbon footprint.’ In essence, you should be taxed just for breathing. Good scam. Anyway, let’s avoid politics here because it will just get dumb fast. – From the linked article

    Too late, Billy, too late.

    ee, this is why you don’t get rid of your hair. Samson lost his strength. Corgan lost his ability to tell that Infowars is not a serious site for serious people with serious ideas. Baldness – not even once. – Athywren@7

    Yup, what’s really wrong with this bigotted numpty is that he’s bald.

    Oh, wait, no it isn’t. And that was a very stupid and rather unpleasant thing to say.

  34. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    ……did I actually need to make it clear that I don’t really think that his decision to shave his hair off is the cause of his irrationality?

    I don’t really think that his decision to shave his hair off is the cause of his irrationality. Any more than I really think that Samson lost his strength because Delilah cut his hair, or that he existed in any meaningful sense.

  35. petesh says

    @37: Ah, but did Corgan ever exist in a meaningful sense? Did I? Nugget [love that autocorrect] bothers me only because he is prima facie evidence that Lucifer might exist, and once you fall for that, Angels are not far behind.

  36. says

    I was talking to my brother in BC last night, and mentioned Corgan’s nonsense. He mused that if Corgan was still selling lots of records he probably wouldn’t be appearing on Alex Jones, that part of this is simply Corgan being upset he’s not a big thing anymore. So he needs someone to lash out at, in this case the supposed forces of political correctness.

    100 years from now Ted Nugent’s sole contribution to world culture will be seen to be “Journey To The Center of Your Mind.” A prospect that would likely upset Nugent, who claims he has never been a drug user, given that it’s drug trip kind of song..

  37. Nick Gotts says


    No, you needed not to mention his baldness at all, because its completely fucking irrelevant. It’s generally recognised here that sneering at someone’s appearance is wrong – but apparently you think baldness is an exception. Why?

  38. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    @Nick Gotts, 40
    I was making a very silly joke based around the confusion of correlation and causation.
    Billy Corgan used to be a popular rock star, and he used to have long hair. Not long before the end of Smashing Pumpkins, the rise of Zwan, and his drop into obscurity, Corgan shaved his hair. The one is obviously not related in any way to the other, and yet I was suggesting that there was a direct link. The humour comes from the contradiction of reality. If the change had been that he’d started wearing only red shirts, I would probably have referenced Star Trek. I was in not sneering at bald people any more than I would’ve been sneering at people who like to wear red shirts if that had been the notable change.
    That said, I am sorry.

  39. Taemon says

    My favourite artist of almost thirty years has been accused of rape. I read the story and it all sounds depressingly familiar. I don’t know how to deal with this. I can’t hear him anymore. But I can’t not hear him anymore. Any tips?

  40. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    100 years from now Ted Nugent’s sole contribution to world culture will be seen to be “Journey To The Center of Your Mind.”

    Au contraire, it’ll be that scene in the High Enough video where bullets bounce off of him because of the intensity of his guitar solo.

  41. bassmike says

    Nathan . I’m a big Steven Wilson fan too. I’ve never got a particular negative vibe from him or his music. I’ve seen him a few times and he’s not said anything that I picked up as negative to women or politically right wing. I think he’s been hurt by relationships, which may appear negative in his songs.