|Single by The Smashing Pumpkins|
|Released||January 22, 1996|
|Format||7" and 12" vinyl, CD, cassette|
|Length||4:24 (album/single/video version)|
4:16 (radio edit)
|Producer(s)||Flood, Alan Moulder, Billy Corgan|
|The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology|
"1979" is the second single from The Smashing Pumpkins' third studio album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. "1979" was written by frontman Billy Corgan, and features loops and samples uncharacteristic of previous Smashing Pumpkins songs. The song was written as a nostalgic coming of age story by Corgan. In the year 1979, Corgan was 12 and this is what he considered his transition into adolescence.
"1979" reached number two in Canada and Iceland, number six in Ireland, number nine in New Zealand, and number 12 in the United States. It charted within the top 20 in several other countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom. The song was nominated for the Record of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 39th Annual Grammy Awards, and won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Alternative Video. In 2012, it was voted the second-best Smashing Pumpkins song by Rolling Stone readers.
According to statements in interviews, Corgan worked nonstop after the Siamese Dream tour and wrote about 56 songs for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the last of which was "1979". As the Mellon Collie sessions came to a conclusion, "1979" (which evolved out of a demo called "Strolling") was just a couple of chord changes and a snippet of a melody without words. When the time came to choose the songs that were to appear on the album, producer Flood said that "1979" was "not good enough". He gave Corgan a mere 24 hours to finish the song or it was off the record. This, however, inspired Corgan to finish it in four hours. The next day, Flood heard "1979" once and decided immediately to put it on the album. Everything in the final recording except the vocals is from the same 12 hours. Corgan considers "1979" the most personally important song on Mellon Collie.
Reputedly the song was influenced by "Pleasure" by The Frogs. According to the band's frontman, Jimmy Flemion, a demo tape of "Pleasure" was shared with Corgan in 1993, two years prior to "1979" being penned. In a live performance, Flemion playfully accused Corgan of ripping him off and said "watch the papers for the lawsuit".
The song features a sample of Corgan's voice repeated throughout. During recording, Corgan was singing "today" as the melody line, so he and Flood decided to record him singing to a tape. The pair electronically manipulated several samples and looped them against a drumbeat.
|“||The most frequently asked question about '1979' is, 'What is the 'ooh-ahh-ahh' sound at the end of every phrase?' Flood and I were tracking the song, and I started humming the 'oohs' like a melody line. I sang them to tape, we sampled the pertinent ones, electronically manipulated them, and looped them against the drum beat. One of my favorite songs from the album.||”|
|— Billy Corgan, Guitar World, January 1997|
Producer Alan Moulder told Tape-Op, "That's a classic Flood production: the vocal effects and the Kurzweil distortion on the drums. I think once they decided how to do it, it came together rather quickly. That was a special song."
The song was written and recorded using a 1960s-era Kimberly Bison guitar that Corgan bought for $60 at a pawn shop. Nicknamed "Kimberly Kay", this is the same "secret weapon" guitar that was used on "Mayonaise" and "Panopticon".
"1979" is the Smashing Pumpkins' highest-charting single, reaching number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and on the Modern Rock Tracks charts. Virgin credited the inclusion of the single's bonus tracks for driving sales. The song was nominated for the Record of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 1997 Grammy Awards. Pitchfork Media included the song at number 21 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s and said "'1979' was Billy Corgan asking, 'You know this feeling?' and the second you heard that guitar line the immediate answer was, 'I do-- tell me more.'"
In a 1996 Spin interview, Corgan indicated that "1979" was probably the only indication he had for what the next Pumpkins album would sound like, "something that combines technology, and a rock sensibility, and pop, and whatever, and hopefully clicks. Between 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings' and '1979' you have the bookends of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. You've literally [heard] the end of the rock thing, and the beginning of the new thing".
The music video for "1979" was directed by the team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who had previously directed the music video for "Rocket". Originally, the band approached another director (possibly Spike Jonze) to film the video for "1979". His idea was that all the band members were residents in an alien hotel and they were all going to have specially made alien-elephant masks. This video would have cost over a million dollars.
The video follows a day in the life of disaffected suburban teenagers driving around in a Dodge Charger. It is based on a concept Corgan created, featuring an idealized version of teenage life, while also trying to capture the feeling of being bored in the Chicago suburbs, where Corgan grew up. In the Video the Dodge Charger has Illinois license plates, although in the driving scenes the mountains of California are visible in the background shots. Originally, Corgan wanted a scene of violence, in which the convenience store was trashed by the teens at the end of the video, but Dayton and Faris convinced him to go for something tamer. Aside from Corgan appearing throughout the video in the backseat of a car, the other band members had small parts in the video; James Iha appears as a convenience store clerk, D'arcy Wretzky as an irate neighbor, Jimmy Chamberlin as a policeman, and all three of them appear together as the band in the party scene. Band manager "Gooch" plays Jimmy's partner.
Upon finishing the video shoot, the band flew to New York to perform. However, all tapes of the footage were accidentally left sitting on top of a car, and were lost as the driver departed. The group later flew back to re-shoot the party scene.
The "1979" video was highly acclaimed. It won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Alternative Video in 1996. It was one of Canadian cable television music channel MuchMusic's Countdown number-one videos of 1996. Billy Corgan considers it the Pumpkins' best video, calling it "the closest we've ever come to realizing everything we wanted."
The video for the 1998 song "Perfect" is a sequel to this one, and involves the same characters who are now older. The aforementioned incident with the loss of the original footage is parodied in one of the later video's final scenes, in which a cassette tape is left on top of a car and falls off as a character drives out of a parking lot at high speed, and is subsequently destroyed by another vehicle.
cool kids never have the time
on a live wire
right up off the street
you and i should meet
junebug skipping like a stone
with the headlights pointed at the dawn
we were sure we'd never see an end to it all
and i don't even care
to shake these zipper blues
and we don't know
just where our bones will rest
to dust i guess
forgotten and absorbed
into the earth below
double cross the vacant and the bored
they're not sure just what we have in store
morphine city slippin' dues
down to see
that we don't even care
as restless as we are
we feel the pull
in the land of a thousand guilts
and poured cement
lamented and assured
to the lights and towns below
faster than the speed of sound
faster than we thought we'd go
beneath the sound of hope
justine never knew the rules
hung down with the freaks and the ghouls
no apologies ever need be made
i know you better than you fake it
to see that we don't even care
to shake these zipper blues
and we don't know
just where our bones will rest
to dust i guess
forgotten and absorbed
into the earth below
the street heats the urgency of now [written: sound]
as you can see there's no one around
- At 1:03, you may hear the jingle of a bell.
- At 2:07 you may hear what sounds like a helicopter. a DJ says the echoing is a burp that is reversed and then screwed around with.
- There is a "whistling" noise in the background at 2:55-2:58 (left channel).
- At 4:08 there's some sort of beeping.
|3.||"The Boy"||James Iha||3:04|
|6.||"Set The Ray To Jerry"||Billy Corgan||4:10|
|2.||"Bullet with Butterfly Wings"||Billy Corgan||4:16|
|2.||"1979" (Instrumental Mix)||Billy Corgan||5:17|
|3.||"1979" (Moby Mix)||Billy Corgan||6:39|
|4.||"1979" (Cement Mix)||Billy Corgan||4:40|
|January 22, 1996||Hut Recordings • Virgin||HUTT67 • 7243 8 93356 6 8||12"||UK & Europe|||
|January 22, 1996||Hut Recordings • Virgin||HUTCD67 • 7243 8 93356 2 0||CD||UK & Europe|||
|January 23, 1996||Virgin||7243 8 38534 2 7 • v25f-38534||CD||US|||
|January 22, 1996||Hut Recordings • Virgin||HUTCDF67 • 7243 8 93357 2 9||CD||UK & Europe|||
|January 23, 1996||Virgin||7243 8 38566 2 7||CD||US|||
|July 23, 1996||Virgin||7243 8 38522 7 7||7"||US|||
|March 12, 1996||Virgin||7243 8 38541 1 0||12"||US|||
|March 12, 1996||Hut Recordings • Virgin||HUTTX 67 • 7243 8 93442 6 4||12"||UK & Europe|||
|March 12, 1996||Hut Recordings • Virgin||HUTCDX 67 • 7243 8 93442 2 6||CD||UK & Europe|||
The song is used in Clerks II and during the credits of Gran Turismo 5. It was also released as downloadable content for Guitar Hero World Tour. It was also part of the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto IV as part of the fictional Liberty Rock Radio station until April 2018 when Rockstar Games' ten-year license to the song expired.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness||Disc two – Twilight to Starlight||Studio|
|1979||UK/US CD single/UK 12"||Single|
|The Aeroplane Flies High||"1979"||Compilation|
|As Featured on MTV||Video • Promotional • Live|
|The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–1998||Promotional CD||Promotional • Compilation|
|Rotten Apples||US version||Compilation|
|Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000)||Video|
|The Killer in You: A Tribute to Smashing Pumpkins||Tribute|
|Rarities and B-Sides||Compilation|
|Ghost Children/Friends and Enemies||Tribute|
|American Gothic||UK Tour Edition bonus tracks||EP|
|G.L.O.W.||Guitar Hero Download Package||Single|
|Live Smashing Pumpkins||Live|
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- "Italian single certifications – Smashing Pumpkins – 1979" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved February 26, 2018. Select "Tutti gli anni" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "1979" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
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