From SPCodex, The Smashing Pumpkins wiki
Single by The Smashing Pumpkins
B-side"Window Paine"
ReleasedAugust 1991
Format12" vinyl, CD
Studio sessions
GenreAlternative rock
Songwriter(s)Billy Corgan
Producer(s)Butch Vig, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology

"Siva" is the first single from The Smashing Pumpkins' debut album Gish, and was written by Billy Corgan. "Siva" was also the first music video filmed by the band.

During live shows in the early 90s, the band would typically preface "Siva" by saying it's a song about killing your parents and taking drugs.

Background[edit | edit source]

In an early interview with Billy Corgan, he admitted that he had thought of the name for the song before he had written it, had labeled dozens of tapes with its name, and even considered naming the band "Siva" instead of "Smashing Pumpkins".

Corgan has stated the riff was conceived on an Ovation acoustic guitar while working at a record store in Chicago sometime in 1991 – the same guitar used to write "Disarm".[1][2] The main riff came to him uncontrolled, including the noted microtonality, or what the band calls "string pulling". Corgan has also said the aggressive string-pulling of the song has caused damage to his fretting hand over the years.[2]

Corgan considered "Siva" the band's first true rock song that defined their sound, and led him to believe that The Smashing Pumpkins "are going to work". In that regard he believes it to be the most important song in the band's early catalog.[2] He debated making it the first track on Gish, but felt "I Am One" was the more powerful opener.[3] Lyrically, Corgan considered "Siva" as one of the first songs that served as a personal manifesto.

Corgan originally titled the song "Shiva", referring to the Tantric concepts of Shiva – the inhaler and destroyer of worlds – and Shakti as opposing masculine and feminine forces.[4] A book Corgan was reading had it spelled "Siva", hence he went with that spelling, but the band nonetheless still pronounces the song "Shiva".[3]

Historically, "Siva" is a jam song with varying arrangements. In the studio, producer Butch Vig helped the band trim down the song into a more pop composition.[3] The guitar solo features the band's first use of the Big Muff pedal that was famously used on Siamese Dream.[3]

Music video[edit | edit source]

"Siva" was the first music video filmed by the band

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

i spin off and lose my head
throwing stray a spark instead
gather strength down in my heel
and dig in the world i peel

way down deep beneath my heart
lies a soul that's torn apart
tell me, tell me what you're after
i just want to get there faster

i don't live, i inhale
i don't give, i unveil
don't wanna live in your misery
i don't live, i inhale

sprinkle all my kisses on your head
stars full of wishes fill our beds
she said, "i'm dead"

all this pain smothers me
like a bomb that you can't see
tell me, tell me what you're after
i just want to get there faster

i don't live, i inhale
i don't give, i unveil
i don't live, i inhale
i don't live

Track listing[edit | edit source]

All tracks are written by Billy Corgan.

2."Window Paine"5:49

Release[edit | edit source]

The song was only released as a single in the UK and Australia, as well as appearing on the Peel Sessions EP. On January 29, 2008, it was also made available as a downloadable track for the video game Rock Band.

Released Label Catalog ID Format Country External sites
August 1991 Hut Recordings HUTT 6 12" UK Discogs MusicBrainz [1]
1991 Caroline Records • Hut Recordings TCHUTC6 Cassette Australia Discogs [1]
1991 Caroline Records HUTCD6 CD Australia Discogs [1]

More releases: DiscogsMusicBrainz

Charts[edit | edit source]

Chart (1993) Peak
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[5] 45


Rhinoceros7" vinyl promo singlePromo
GishMain releaseStudio
Peel SessionsEP
Siamese Dream2011 reissue bonus DVD – Live at the Metro (Live on August 14, 1993)Studio
Unplugged: 100% Pure Acoustic PerformancesBootleg
The Cutting EdgeAugust 27, 1993 – Biddinghuizen, NL (soundboard / electric)Bootleg
Mayonaise DreamBootleg • Live
Mashed PotatoesBootleg
23 MinutesVideo • Promotional
VieuphoriaLost '94 TapesVideo
PluggelectricAugust 27, 1993 – Biddinghuizen, NL (soundboard / electric)Bootleg
The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–1998Promotional CDPromotional • Compilation
Ghost Children: A Tribute To The Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rotten ApplesNorth American versionCompilation
Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000)Video
Rarities and B-SidesCompilation
MySpace Smashing Pumpkins TributeTribute
Celebrating *20* Years of SadnessLive
Inside the Dream MachineBootleg • Live
Mayonaise Dream: Broadcast from Tower Records. July 1993Bootleg • Live
Live at Kawasaki 2.24.92Live
The Rubano Tapes Vol. 1Live
Smashing Pumpkins 4/12/94Live

Tour stats

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Corgan, Billy. "Guitar Geek U.S.A." Guitar World, August 1995.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Corgan, Billy. "With Ado I Do (with Willow Smith)". iHeartPodcasts. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Siva" Gish deep dive, June 2020
  4. Smashing Pumpkins band commentary, "Siva." Greatest Hits Video Collection.
  5. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Siva". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 23, 2016.

External links[edit | edit source]