From SPCodex, The Smashing Pumpkins wiki
"Heart" cover
Single by The Smashing Pumpkins
FormatVinyl record (7", 12") and CD
Studio sessions
GenreAlternative rock[1]
Songwriter(s)Billy Corgan
Producer(s)Butch Vig, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology
Alternative Version Cover
"Smile" cover
"Smile" cover

"Disarm" was the third single from The Smashing Pumpkins' second album, Siamese Dream (1993), and became a top-twenty hit in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, despite being banned in the latter country due to the song's lyrical content.

Background[edit | edit source]

Billy Corgan has stated that the song reflects the shaky relationship he had with his parents while growing up.[2] He told Rage magazine in 1993: "I didn’t have the guts to kill my parents, so I thought I'd get back at them through song. And rather than have an angry, angry, angry violent song I'd thought I'd write something beautiful and make them realize what tender feelings I have in my heart, and make them feel really bad for treating me like shit."[2]

Corgan has said that the song is his "suicidal anthem" about an attempt to take his own life, and that it was written in the same 48 hours as "Today".[3][4] Both songs were the first time Corgan truly opened up about his childhood as a songwriter. He credits Courtney Love for inspiring him to open, after she asked him once why the lyrics on Gish don't sound like the person she talks to (Corgan) on the phone. Corgan wrote the lyrics in a stream of consciousness: "It was like opening a door that had been shut for many, many years, and letting whoever was inside of there come out and say whatever he had to say."[4]

Regardless of the meaning, the lyrical content brought controversy upon release. The BBC banned "Disarm" from Top of the Pops, because of the lyric "cut that little child", and it received little radio airplay in the United Kingdom.[5] The BCC thought it drew comparison to the murder of James Bulger which happened a year prior.[6] That lyric along with lyrics like "what I choose is my choice" and "the killer in me is the killer in you" also were met with some controversy, as some read it as a reference to abortion.[6] Corgan later explained:

Despite the negative misinterpretations, the song went on to be a hit in the UK and beyond, and is one of the most most-performed songs in the band's tour history.

Music video[edit | edit source]

The music video, directed by Jake Scott, is mainly in black and white and shows the members of the band floating over images of a house, an old man walking through an underpass while home movie-esque; color footage shows a young boy (Sean Adams, now known as Amber Adams) playing outside. Billy Corgan has said that he didn't want the old man in the video, but Scott insisted. The video premiered on MTV in early 1994 and was immediately placed into heavy rotation and spent a month as an MTV Exclusive video. Later that year it was nominated for Best Alternative Video and Best Editing in a Video (Editor: Pat Sheffield) at the MTV Video Music Awards, the Pumpkins' first MTV Video Music Awards nominations.

Recording[edit | edit source]

Originally, "Disarm" was intended to be an electric song. Producer Butch Vig has said he was unsure how to approach it in the studio, and consequently he had the band record most of the other songs on the album first. Vig had the band track the song live, but in his own words, "it was a disaster."[4] Eventually Corgan came into the control room and played the song on acoustic to show how he thought it should sound, and Vig obliged. Corgan had the part complete in just a few takes,[4] using his Ovation acoustic, possibly miked with a tube 47 or an AKG 414 and with a 1176 or dbx160 compressor.

The string arrangements were written "on the fly", after Corgan used a cheap sampler keyboard to mock up the parts. Cellist Eric Remschneider (a friend of Corgan's back in Chicago) and violinist David Ragsdale were called in to the studio in Atlanta. Corgan and Vig however did not have the score prepared for them. Instead, Corgan sang to them what he wanted, and they helped write the score, with Corgan asking only for minor adjustments. Vig forced upwards of 12 hours of overdubs, using up to four reels to hold all of it on analog tape. Once complete, it took another 12 hours to mix it and re-record back onto the main reel. Vig said that in hindsight, he should have had Corgan first mock up the song on keys, write the score, then hire the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to play it.[4]

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Disarm you with a smile
And cut you like you want me to
Cut that little child
Inside of me and such a part of you
Ooh, the years burn

I used to be a little boy
So old in my shoes
And what I choose is my choice
What's a boy supposed to do?
The killer in me is the killer in you
My love
I send this smile over to you

Disarm you with a smile
And leave you like they left me here
To wither in denial
The bitterness of one who's left alone
Ooh, the years burn
Ooh, the years burn, burn, burn

I used to be a little boy
So old in my shoes
And what I choose is my voice
What's a boy supposed to do?
The killer in me is the killer in you
My love
I send this smile over to you

The killer in me is the killer in you
Send this smile over to you
The killer in me is the killer in you
Send this smile over to you
The killer in me is the killer in you
Send this smile over to you

Live arrangement[edit | edit source]

While the Pumpkins often produced softer, acoustic versions of many of their louder, more aggressive songs, the band performed a heavy, electric version of "Disarm" on a British television appearance, as featured on Vieuphoria, and also at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards. The electric version changes the tone of the song from that of a ballad to a more angst-driven rock song.

The song has notably been played in the most arrangements of any song from the band's catalog, with at least 14 documented: full band acoustic, both with and without drums, and with and without backing track; full band electric; Corgan and Jeff Schroeder on acoustic guitars; Corgan on acoustic or electric guitar with Lisa Harriton on keyboard; Corgan without guitar and singing to a backing track; Corgan on acoustic guitar with or without backing track; Corgan alone on Mellotron (and joined by James Iha on EBow at 3 shows); and Corgan alone on piano.

Release[edit | edit source]

The song peaked at number eleven on the UK Singles Chart. In the U.S., the song failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 but it peaked at number 48 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart, and also peaked at number five on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number eight on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Two versions of the single were produced. Each version (Heart and Smile) featured different artwork and different B-sides. Both covers were designed by Billy Corgan.

The B-sides to the Heart version were both covers of classic rock songs from the 1970s. "Landslide" was later included on the compilation album Pisces Iscariot, after which it received significant airplay on U.S. Modern Rock stations, peaking at #3 on that chart. "Dancing in the Moonlight" performed well in Australia, where it ranked at number 90 on the Triple J Hottest 100 in 1994.

The UK 7" purple vinyl single features an exclusive B-side "Siamese Dream". In 2005, the track was released as a download as part of the Rarities and B-sides compilation.[7]

Track listing[edit | edit source]

All tracks are written by Billy Corgan, except where noted..

UK 7" single
2."Siamese Dream"2:38
UK CD single 1 ("Smile" cover)
1."Disarm" 3:17
2."Soothe" (Demo) 2:35
3."Blew Away"James Iha3:31
UK CD single 2 ("Heart" cover)
1."Disarm" 3:17
2."Landslide"Stevie Nicks3:10
3."Dancing in the Moonlight"Phil Lynott4:21

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Release history[edit | edit source]

Released Label Catalog ID Format Country External sites
February 28, 1994 Virgin • Hut Recordings 7243 8 92309 7 0 • HUT 43 7" UK Discogs MusicBrainz [1]
1994 Virgin • Hut Recordings 7243 8 92309 2 5 • HUTCD 43 CD 1 UK Discogs MusicBrainz [2]
March 22, 1994 Virgin • Hut Recordings 7243 8 92310 2 1 • HUTDX 43 CD 2 UK Discogs MusicBrainz [3]

More releases: DiscogsMusicBrainz

Charts[edit | edit source]


Quiet and Other SongsDemo • Bootleg
Siamese Dream (promo)UK and France CDPromotional
Siamese DreamOriginal releaseStudio
Sunshine of Your Love (album)Bootleg
Acoustic SeriesBootleg
Unplugged: 100% Pure Acoustic PerformancesBootleg
Mashed PotatoesBootleg
3 Feet HighBootleg • Live
Mayonaise DreamBootleg • Live
Siamese SinglesDisarmBox set
The Cutting EdgeJune 30, 1993 – Hilversum, NL (studio / acoustic)Bootleg
23 MinutesVideo • Promotional
DisarmUK 7" singleSingle
Live At The RivieraBootleg • Live
PluggelectricJune 30, 1993 – Hilversum, NL (studio / acoustic)Bootleg
Live In ChicagoLive • Promotional
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness2012 reissue bonus DVD: 1–11 Live at Brixton Academy 1996-05-15; 12–15 Live at Rockpalast 1996-04-07Studio
The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–1998Promotional CDPromotional • Compilation
The Smashing Pumpkins (Machina promo)Promotional
The VideosVideo • Promotional
A Gothic–Industrial Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Ghost Children: A Tribute To The Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rotten ApplesNorth American versionCompilation
Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000)Video
EarphoriaMain releaseLive
True Power. True Faith.Promotional • Compilation
Rarities and B-SidesCompilation
Celebrating *20* Years of SadnessLive
Oceania: Live in NYCLive • Video
Inside the Dream MachineBootleg • Live
Mayonaise Dream: Broadcast from Tower Records. July 1993Bootleg • Live
Siamese Dream (Fruit Bats cover)Tribute
Smashing Pumpkins 4/12/94Live
London By DayLive

Tour stats

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Smashing Pumpkins, "Disarm" SPIN". Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Interview with Billy and Jimmy – 1993". Retrieved April 28, 2007.
  3. Leñador Films TV (2019-06-19), BILLY CORGAN [4K] 19.06.2019 “DISARM” (With PIANO And Explanation!) By #ElLeñador (@LenadorFilms TV), retrieved 2019-07-05
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Corgan, Billy. "Hooligan (with Butch Vig)". iHeartPodcasts. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  5. Virgin Carlsberg Rock Yearbook 94/95 By Tony Horkins
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The reason why Smashing Pumpkins were banned from Top of the Pops". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
  7. "spfc.org : songlist : Siamese Dream". www.spfc.org. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  8. "Australian-charts.com – The Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  9. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2484." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  10. "Charts.nz – The Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  11. "Notowanie nr642" (in Polish). LP3. June 3, 1994. Archived from the original on July 21, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2019.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  12. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  13. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Radio Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  14. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  15. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  16. Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.

External links[edit | edit source]