Billy Corgan Shares How Nirvana and Pearl Jam’s Success Made Him Suicidal

By Amanda Wicks

Billy Corgan wasn’t thrilled when Nirvana and Pearl Jam each experienced a meteoric rise in 1991 just as The Smashing Pumpkins released its debut album Gish. In fact, their success made him suicidal.

Related: Hurry and Buy Billy Corgan’s Limited Edition 8-Hour ‘Siddhartha’ Set

Appearing on the podcast, Why Not Now? With Amy Jo MartinCorgan shared how Nirvana’s and Pearl Jam’s success made him rethink everything he knew about music. “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,” he explained. “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.”

Corgan added that the disorientation he felt took a huge toll on him. “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,” he said. “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.”

But, in a curious twist, his mental state helped lead him to write the hit single “Today,” which went on to become one of The Smashing Pumpkins’ most popular and famous songs. “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,” he said.

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