From SPCodex, The Smashing Pumpkins wiki
Single by The Smashing Pumpkins
ReleasedSeptember 30, 1993
Format7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, cassette, CD
Studio sessions
  • Alternative rock
  • grunge[1]
Songwriter(s)Billy Corgan
Producer(s)Butch Vig, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology
"Cherub Rock"

"Today" is a single by The Smashing Pumpkins, written by lead vocalist and guitarist Billy Corgan. The song, though seemingly upbeat, contains dark lyrics. Corgan wrote the song about a day in which he was having suicidal thoughts, exemplified by the reference to depression and anger under the bridge. The contrast between the grim subject matter of the song and the soft instrumental part during the verses, coupled with use of irony in the lyrics, left many listeners unaware of the song's tale of depression and desperation. The song alternates between quiet, dreamy verses and loud choruses with layered, distorted guitar.

"Today" was released in September 1993 as the second single from the band's second album and major label debut, Siamese Dream. Although Corgan opted for "Cherub Rock", the lead single from the album, to be the opening track, "Today" and its follow-up "Disarm" are credited in AllMusic for popularizing the band and "sen[ding] [Siamese Dream] into the stratosphere".[2] "Today" has been generally well received by critics; a Blender article described it as having "achieved a remarkable status as one of the defining songs of its generation, perfectly mirroring the fractured alienation of American youth in the 1990s".[3]

The two girls on the cover have been identified as Jennifer Molly Wretzky (D'arcy Wretzky's younger sister, also known as Yingy) on the left, and Magdalena Kijewska on the right, who was a close family friend.[4]

Background and recording[edit | edit source]

After the release and minor success of the band's debut album, Gish, The Smashing Pumpkins were being hyped as "the next Nirvana".[5] However, the band was experiencing several difficulties at the time. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was undergoing an increasingly severe addiction to heroin; James Iha and D'arcy Wretzky had recently broken up their romantic relationship; and Billy Corgan had become overweight, depressed to the point of contemplating suicide, and plagued by writer's block.[3] Corgan recalled that "after the first album, I became completely suicidal. It was an eight-month depression, give or take a month, and I was pretty suicidal for about two or three months."[6] Under the pressure and other complications, the Pumpkins entered the Triclops Sound Studios in Atlanta to record the follow-up to Gish.[3]

"Today" was among the first songs Corgan wrote for Siamese Dream.[3] Corgan said, "The day after I wrote 'Today', my manager heard it and said, 'It's a hit', and I guess in a way, it was."[7] Corgan played the self-recorded demo to producer Butch Vig and to the rest of his band, all of whom responded positively.[3] "Today" already had a chord progression and a melody, but Corgan felt there needed to be an opening riff to the song. One day, "out of the blue, I heard the opening lick note for note in my head", Corgan said. "When I added the opening riff, it completely changed the character of the song. Suddenly, I had a song that was starting out quiet and then got very loud."[8] Soon afterwards, Virgin Records executives were sent to check up on the band after hearing about their problems, but were pleased with the demo.[3] The reaction from the executives only served to put more stress on Corgan;[5] as a result, he recorded most of the guitar and bass guitar parts himself, including on the finished version of "Today".[3]

Siamese Dream was completed after running four months after the deadline and considerably exceeding its budget.[3] Virgin Records executives saw "Today" as the ideal lead single, but Corgan wanted "Cherub Rock", one of the last songs written for the album,[5] as the lead single.[3] Ultimately, "Cherub Rock" was released first to modest success.[3] "Today" brought the band popularity through wide radio airplay and a successful music video.[3]

Composition and lyrics[edit | edit source]

The guitar introduction to "Today," which repeats for four bars[9]

"Today" is written in the key of E-flat major (E) and played in standard tuning. While Corgan briefly considered simply tuning the guitar down a half-step and playing the song as if it were in the key of E, he said, "There was something about the E voicing that I liked. So it's absolutely, intentionally in E, not E."[10] This tuning would continue to be used throughout much of the band's career. "Today" is one of the Siamese Dream songs on which Corgan took over Iha and D'arcy's duties on guitar and bass to ensure quality; Wretzky later stated that Corgan "can do something in three takes where it would maybe take me 20".[3]

The song, spanning three minutes and 21 seconds, begins with a one-measure opening guitar riff that alludes to the E major-pentatonic scale.[10] Corgan uses this riff (along with variations on it) to emphasize certain parts and to indicate shifts in the song.[8] After the riff is played four times, the rest of the band enters backed with feedback-driven guitars.[11] Ned Raggett of Allmusic commented on the song's ability to "alternate between calmer, almost Cure-like sections and the louder crunches, [and Corgan's] soon-to-be-trademark guitar style taking My Bloody Valentine's own hypnotic riffing to more accessible results".[11] The chorus, consisting of multiple guitar tracks playing barre chords, is an example of the band's tendency to overdub several rhythm guitar tracks.[10] While the song does not include a standard guitar solo, a short melodic guitar part appears during the bridge. Corgan explained: "The little guitar break over the C chord is actually a forwards sample that we laid in backwards. Then there's a weird vocal effect that moves across the speakers, a 'yan-yan-yan-yan' thing, which was generated by using a Roland Space Echo to regenerate on the last word of the vocal line, 'I wanna turn you on.'"[10]

The dark, ironic lyrics of "Today", describing a day when Corgan was feeling depressed and suicidal, contrast with the instrumentation.[11] Michael Snyder of the San Francisco Chronicle said that the song is "downright pretty as rock ballads go" but that "Corgan manages to convey the exhilaration and tragic release he seeks."[12] Corgan told Rolling Stone that "I was really suicidal ... I just thought it was funny to write a song that said today is the greatest day of your life because it can't get any worse."[13] Corgan later compared writing the lyrics of "Today" and "Disarm" to "ripping [his] guts out".[6] They played the song live for the first time on September 20, 1993, on Late Night with David Letterman.

Music video[edit | edit source]

Promotional picture of Billy Corgan and James Iha, during the shooting of the music video

The music video, directed by Stéphane Sednaoui, brought even more mainstream success to the band through repeated airplay on MTV.[3] The video debuted in September 1993. It was shot with low quality photographic equipment, which, like several other early Pumpkins videos, was an intentional stylistic decision.[14] Corgan said that the plot of the video was inspired by a memory he had of an ice cream truck driver who, upon quitting his job, gave out his remaining stock of ice cream to the neighborhood children.[15] The idea was initially firmly opposed by the record label, but Corgan insisted.[16] This image was then melded with Sednaoui's own sensibilities inspired by the film Zabriskie Point,[15] which is why there are random people making out on the hills in the video. According to Corgan, Sednaoui wore a dress without underwear during shooting, and his "junk" was visible to everyone as he stood atop the ice cream truck to make announcements.[16]

The video begins with Corgan reading a comic book dressed in an ice cream man uniform. A clip of the intro to the song is played and stopped repeatedly before the song begins. Groups of two or more people are kissing each other around Corgan as he drives in an ice cream van through a desert. Corgan picks up a dress-wearing Iha and the two drive for a while before stopping at a gas station, where Chamberlin and Wretzky appear as gas attendants. Originally the band wanted the video to involve picking up each band member individually, but the production team ran out of time. After Iha changes into a yellow and white cowboy outfit, the band paints the van in a multitude of colors. This skit was another request of the director in reference to Zabriskie Point. The band didn't want to paint each other, but agreed to pain the ice cream truck instead. When the band members do begin painting each other, it is to secretly mock Sednaoui. Corgan said in Thirty-Three podcast: "We're rebelling in our own video while we're making our own video of rebellion because the director won't allow us to make the one we actually want to make that we're paying for."[16]

The video continues with more people shown kissing in the hills as the band drives away from the gas station in the van. However, Corgan is ultimately kicked out of the van, and the video ends with Corgan walking off the road wearing a cowboy hat as the van drives away. The video was filmed on August 29, 1993.[15] The opening shots were filmed outside the Taft Hardware • Wilsons building located at 331 Center Street, Taft, CA, 93268, on the 4th street side of the building.[17]

The video is available on Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000) DVD, released in 2001.

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Today is the greatest
Day I've ever known
Can't live for tomorrow,
Tomorrow's much too long
I'll burn my eyes out
Before I get out

I wanted more
Than life could ever grant me
Bored by the chore
Of saving face

Today is the greatest
Day I've ever known
Can't wait for tomorrow
I might not have that long
I'll tear my heart out
Before I get out

Pink ribbon scars
That never forget
I tried so hard
To cleanse these regrets
My angel wings
Were bruised and restrained
My belly stings

Today is
Today is
Today is
The greatest day

I want to turn you on
I want to turn you on
I want to turn you on
I want to turn you

Today is the greatest
Today is the greatest day
Today is the greatest day
That I have ever really known

Reception[edit | edit source]

"Today" has received generally positive reviews. Ned Raggett of AllMusic called the song an "at-once storming but catchy smash single".[11] Johnny Black of Blender noted that the song "has achieved a remarkable status as one of the defining songs of its generation".[3] Robert Christgau cited "Today" as one of the highlights of Siamese Dream.[18] "Today" topped Eye Weekly magazine's year-end list of best singles,[19] and also appeared at number 32 on NME's year-end list of best singles.[20]

"Today" was one of the most successful early singles by The Smashing Pumpkins, and additionally has been recognized as one of the songs that brought the Pumpkins into the mainstream. The song was, at the time of its release, the highest-charting song by the band, peaking at number four on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks.[21] The song also reached a peak position of number 28 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks,[21] and was one of the first Pumpkins songs to chart in the UK, peaking at number 44.[22] "Today" was later called one of the "hits that took the cool alternative band into stadium rock territory" by the BBC's Dan Tallis in a review of the band's greatest hits album, Rotten Apples,[23] and similarly referred to as the "Smashing Pumpkins' red carpet to the glorified frat houses of alternative rock radio" by Nick Sylvester of Pitchfork Media.[24]

Accolades[edit | edit source]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Eye Weekly Canada Singles of the Year[19] 1993 1
NME UK Singles of the Year[20] 1993 32
Blender U.S. The Greatest Songs Ever![3] 2001 *
Q UK The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003)[25] 2003 462
97X U.S. The 500 Best Modern Rock Songs of All Time[26] 2006 63

(*) designates unordered lists.

Other releases[edit | edit source]

"Today" has appeared on several Smashing Pumpkins official releases, including the band's greatest hits album Rotten Apples and the box set Siamese Singles. A live version of "Today" performed in the band's hometown of Chicago was included on the 1994 video release Vieuphoria and on its companion album Earphoria,[27] and was praised as "a triumphant recording" by Pitchfork's Chris Dahlen.[28] A different live recording from Chicago appears on the promotional album Live in Chicago 23.10.95 and the song is featured on 14 volumes of Live Smashing Pumpkins. The song has also appeared in different versions on several Smashing Pumpkins bootlegs such as Unplugged: 100% Pure Acoustic Performances, which includes unofficial live recordings and acoustic recordings.[29]

"Today" has been included in a few compilation albums. The eighteenth volume of Indie Top 20, a Melody Maker-sponsored compilation series which serves as a "time capsule of U.K. indie music", features "Today" as its fourth track.[30] The song appears on a two-disc MTV Dutch import, Rock Am Ring, a collection of hit singles from the early 1990s.[31]

Cover versions[edit | edit source]

The song has been covered for several tribute albums. A Gothic–Industrial Tribute to Smashing Pumpkins features a dance music-influenced version of the song by industrial band Shining.[32] Solomon Burke Jr., the son of influential soul musician Solomon Burke, contributed a "radically altered" rendition of "Today" for Midnight in the Patch: Tribute to the Smashing Pumpkins, performing the song in a Motown style.[33] Other covers of "Today" for tribute albums include performances by Armor for Sleep on The Killer in You: A Tribute to Smashing Pumpkins and by Death Rawk Boy on Ghost Children / Friends and Enemies.[34][35] The main guitar passage was also sampled by Japanese hip-hop act Dragon Ash in its song "Grateful Days".[36] It was covered by John Craigie on his album Leave the Fire Behind.[37] Deerhunter reinterpreted the song live in 2015, following a legal dispute between frontman Bradford Cox and Corgan, "transforming the song's opening riff into a 10-minute noise-pop improvisation".[38]

Formats and track listings[edit | edit source]

CD/Cassette/12" single
2."Hello Kitty Kat"4:32
Total length:13:14
7" single
2."Apathy's Last Kiss"2:42
Total length:6:04
Japanese CD single
2."Hello Kitty Kat"4:32
4."French Movie Theme"3:50
5."Apathy's Last Kiss"2:43
Total length:19:47

On some of the early copies of the Japanese CD, the band name was misspelled on the first page of the liner notes as "Smashing Pampkins".[39]

Release history[edit | edit source]

Released Label Catalog ID Format Country External sites
September 30, 1993 Hut Recordings HUTCD 37 • 0170 465018 2 8 CD UK & Europe Discogs MusicBrainz [1]
September 30, 1993 Hut Recordings • Virgin HUTC 37 • 0170 465018 2 8 Cassette UK Discogs [1]
September 30, 1993 Hut Recordings • Virgin HUTT 37 • 0170 465018 6 6 12" UK Discogs [1]
September 30, 1993 Hut Recordings HUT 37 7" UK & Europe Discogs MusicBrainz [2]
January 26, 1994 Virgin • Hut Recordings VJCP-14047 CD Japan Discogs MusicBrainz [3]

More releases: DiscogsMusicBrainz

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Charts[edit | edit source]

Chart (1993–1994) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[40] 57
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[41] 82
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[42] 27
UK Singles (OCC)[43] 44
US Radio Songs (Billboard)[44] 56
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[45] 3
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[46] 28
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[47] 4


Quiet and Other SongsDemo • Bootleg
Siamese Dream (promo)UK and France CDPromotional
Siamese DreamOriginal releaseStudio
TodayCD/Cassette/12" singleSingle
No AlternativeCompilation
Acoustic SeriesBootleg
Unplugged: 100% Pure Acoustic PerformancesBootleg
3 Feet HighBootleg • Live
23 MinutesVideo • Promotional
Siamese SinglesTodayBox set
Mayonaise DreamBootleg • Live
The Cutting EdgeJune 30, 1993 – Hilversum, NL (studio / acoustic)Bootleg
RocketNew Zealand cassetteSingle
Live At The RivieraBootleg • Live
Live In ChicagoLive • Promotional
PluggelectricJune 30, 1993 – Hilversum, NL (studio / acoustic)Bootleg
The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–1998Promotional CDPromotional • Compilation
The VideosVideo • Promotional
A Gothic–Industrial Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rotten ApplesNorth American versionCompilation
Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000)Video
EarphoriaMain releaseLive
The Killer in You: A Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
True Power. True Faith.Promotional • Compilation
Rarities and B-SidesCompilation
Ghost Children/Friends and EnemiesTribute
MySpace Smashing Pumpkins TributeTribute
Guitar Hero World TourSoundtrackCompilation
Celebrating *20* Years of SadnessLive
Inside the Dream MachineBootleg • Live
Mayonaise Dream: Broadcast from Tower Records. July 1993Bootleg • Live
Siamese Dream (Fruit Bats cover)Tribute
Smashing Pumpkins 4/21/94Live

Tour stats

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Danaher, Michael (4 August 2014). "The 50 Best Grunge Songs". Paste. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  2. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Smashing Pumpkins – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 Black, Johnny (December 2001 – January 2002). "The Greatest Songs Ever! Today". Blender. Archived from the original on February 2, 2007. Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  4. van Pelt, Arthur. "Who are the Girls on the Today Single?". SPfreaks. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Thompson, Dave. "Local Geek Makes Good". Creem. January/February 1994.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Shepherd, Julianne (June 13, 2005). "Interviews: Billy Corgan". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  7. Corgan, Billy. "Guitar Geek USA [column]". Guitar World. February 1996.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Corgan, Billy. "Guitar Geek USA [column]". Guitar World. August 1995.
  9. Aledort, Andrew. "Today", in Siamese Dream Songbook. Miami: Warner Bros. Publications, 1994.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Aledort, Andrew. "Introduction", in Siamese Dream Songbook. Miami: Warner Bros. Publications, 1994.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Raggett, Ned. "Today (review)". Allmusic. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  12. Synder, Michael. "Pumpkins' Smashing Success". San Francisco Chronicle. October 20, 1993.
  13. Azzerad, Michael. "Smashing Pumpkins' Sudden Impact". Rolling Stone. October 1993.
  14. Jacobson, Colin. "The Smashing Pumpkins 1991-2000: Greatest Hits Video Collection (2000)". Retrieved August 6, 2007.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Commentary for "Today" music video. The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–2000: Greatest Hits Video Collection. Virgin Records, 2001.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Corgan, Billy. "Steps In Time (with Tegan and Sara)". iHeartPodcasts. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  17. ""Today" video filming location Found". Reddit. 10 Sep 2018. Retrieved 10 Sep 2018.
  18. Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Smashing Pumpkins". Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Eye Weekly". Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "1993 NME Lists". Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "The Smashing Pumpkins Artist Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
  22. "Official Charts > Smashing Pumpkins". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  23. Tallis, Dan. "The Smashing Pumpkins, Greatest Hits {Rotten Apples}". Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  24. Sylvester, Nick. "Pitchfork Feature: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 2, 2007.
  25. "Q - 1001 best songs ever (2003)". Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  26. "The 2006 Modern Rock 500". Archived from the original on August 24, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  27. "Entertainment Briefs". Chicago Sun-Times. April 17, 2006.
  28. Chris Dahlen (December 12, 2002). "Smashing Pumpkins: Earphoria". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 11, 2007.
  29. Prato, Greg. "Unplugged: 100% Pure Acoustic Performances". Allmusic. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  30. Kellman, Andy. "Indie Top 20, Vol. 18". Allmusic. Archived from the original on March 6, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  31. Huey, Steve. "Rock Am Ring". Allmusic. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  32. Huey, Steve. "A Gothic Industrial Tribute to the Smashing Pumpkins". AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  33. Loftus, Johnny. "Midnight in the Patch: Tribute to Smashing Pumpkins". Allmusic. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  34. Prato, Greg. "Smashing Pumpkins Tribute: The Killer in You". Allmusic. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  35. "Ghost Children 2: Friends And Enemies – A Tribute to SP". Retrieved August 7, 2007.
  36. "Dragon Ash: Grateful Days". Retrieved February 3, 2008.
  37. "Homeless Tunes". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013.
  38. DeVille, Chris (December 8, 2015). "Watch Deerhunter Reinterpret Smashing Pumpkins' "Today" While Asking Billy Corgan Not To Sue". Stereogum. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  39. "Smashing Pumpkins – Today". Discogs. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  40. "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart — Week Ending 27 Nov 1994". ARIA. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  41. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2389." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  42. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Today". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  43. "The Smashing Pumpkins: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  44. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Radio Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  45. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  46. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  47. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.

External links[edit | edit source]