1979

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"1979"
SmashingPumpkins-1979.jpg
Single by The Smashing Pumpkins
ReleasedJanuary 22, 1996
Format7" and 12" vinyl, CD, cassette
Recorded1995
Genre
  • Alternative rock
  • art rock[1]
Length4:24 (album/single/video version)
4:16 (radio edit)
LabelVirgin
Songwriter(s)Billy Corgan
Producer(s)Flood, Alan Moulder, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology
"Bullet with Butterfly Wings"
(1995)
"1979"
(1996)
"Zero"
(1996)

"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.[2] 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.[3]

"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.[4]

Recording

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,[5] the last of which was "1979".[6] As the Mellon Collie sessions came to a conclusion, "1979" (which evolved out of a demo called "Strolling"[7]) 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.[8] 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.[2] Everything in the final recording except the vocals is from the same 12 hours.[8] Corgan considers "1979" the most personally important song on Mellon Collie.[9]

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".[10]

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.[11]

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."[8]

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".[12]

Reception

"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.[13] Virgin credited the inclusion of the single's bonus tracks for driving sales.[14] 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.'"[15]

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".[16]

The song was voted #13 on Triple J Hottest 100 in 1996, it was later voted #71 on the Hottest 100 of All Time in 1998, #35 on the 2009 edition and #21 on the Hottest 100 of the Past 20 Years in 2013.

Music video

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[2]) 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.[17]

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.[17]

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.[17][6]

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,[17] calling it "the closest we've ever come to realizing everything we wanted."[2]

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.

Lyrics

shakedown 1979
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

Secrets

  • 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).[18]
  • At 4:08 there's some sort of beeping.[19]

Track listing

UK/US CD single/UK 12"
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."1979"Billy Corgan4:24
2."Ugly"Billy Corgan2:28
3."Believe"James Iha3:15
4."Cherry"Billy Corgan4:02
1996 Re-issue/Max-CD
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."1979"Billy Corgan4:24
2."Ugly"Billy Corgan2:28
3."The Boy"James Iha3:04
4."Cherry"Billy Corgan4:02
5."Believe"James Iha3:15
6."Set The Ray To Jerry"Billy Corgan4:10
US 7" double A-side single
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."1979"Billy Corgan4:24
2."Bullet with Butterfly Wings"Billy Corgan4:16
1979 Mixes
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."1979"Billy Corgan5:08
2."1979" (Instrumental Mix)Billy Corgan5:17
3."1979" (Moby Mix)Billy Corgan6:39
4."1979" (Cement Mix)Billy Corgan4:40

Tracks 1, 2, and 4 are remixed by Roli Mosimann. Track 3 is remixed by Moby.[20]

Release history

Released Label Catalog ID Format Country Discogs MusicBrainz
January 22, 1996 Hut Recordings • Virgin HUTT67 • 7243 8 93356 6 8 12" UK & Europe 1601066 [1]
January 22, 1996 Hut Recordings • Virgin HUTCD67 • 7243 8 93356 2 0 CD UK & Europe 373085 aa229df0-72d0-408c-8a22-21b70b4f5f6e [1]
January 23, 1996 Virgin 7243 8 38534 2 7 • v25f-38534 CD US 572792 09dc7c0f-8e82-36b4-9473-3959c96ef2b7 [1]
January 22, 1996 Hut Recordings • Virgin HUTCDF67 • 7243 8 93357 2 9 CD UK & Europe 432019 ea9505bc-24d8-3035-807c-ec95e5faa168 [2]
January 23, 1996 Virgin 7243 8 38566 2 7 CD US 3421574 709b578d-2a82-374b-9a9e-dde15b542e15 [2]
July 23, 1996 Virgin 7243 8 38522 7 7 7" US [3]
March 12, 1996 Virgin 7243 8 38541 1 0 12" US 106442 [4]
March 12, 1996 Hut Recordings • Virgin HUTTX 67 • 7243 8 93442 6 4 12" UK & Europe 2554701 [4]
March 12, 1996 Hut Recordings • Virgin HUTCDX 67 • 7243 8 93442 2 6 CD UK & Europe 214875 [4]

More releases: DiscogsMusicBrainz

Charts

Licensed uses

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.[50]

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[51] Gold 25,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[52] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[53] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Availability

TitleNotesType
Mellon Collie and the Infinite SadnessDisc two – Twilight to StarlightStudio
1979UK/US CD single/UK 12"Single
The Aeroplane Flies High"1979"Compilation
As Featured on MTVVideo • Promotional • Live
The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–1998Promotional CDPromotional • Compilation
Rotten ApplesUS versionCompilation
Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000)Video
The Killer in You: A Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rarities and B-SidesCompilation
Ghost Children/Friends and EnemiesTribute
American GothicUK Tour Edition bonus tracksEP
G.L.O.W.Guitar Hero Download PackageSingle
Live Smashing PumpkinsLive
Thirty DaysVideo

References

  1. "50 Greatest Grunge Albums". Rolling Stone. April 1, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Greg Kot. "A Long Strange Trip to 1979". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  3. "Top 21 Songs About Nostalgia". Consequence of Sound. September 3, 2018. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  4. "Readers' Poll: The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  5. Corgan, Billy; Iha, James; Wretzky, D'arcy (December 19, 1996). "Hora Prima". MTV Latin America (Interview).
  6. 6.0 6.1 "1979 by Smashing Pumpkins - Songfacts". www.songfacts.com. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  7. "Smashing Pumpkins: The Secret History, by Alan Cross". Harper Collins. 2007. ISBN 9781927002209.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Brown, Jake (October 2016). "Smashing Pumpkins: A studio history with Billy Corgan, Flood, Jimmy Chamberlin, Butch Vig, Alan Moulder, and Tommy Lee". Tape-Op. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  9. Billy Corgan (May 29, 1998). "Billy Corgan interview" (Interview). Karl Daher.
  10. Magic Ian of Maximum Pelt on mixtape releases that feel like personal gifts Leor Galil, Chicago Reader. September 19, 2019
  11. "King B's". Guitar World (January 1997).
  12. An old friend stopped by the studio today, Kerry Brown's blogspot, September 21, 2009
  13. "Charts & Awards: Smashing Pumpkins". Allmusic. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  14. Craig Rosen. "CD Single Sales Spurred by Addition of Nonalbum Cuts". Billboard (March 30, 1996).
  15. "The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 50-21". Pitchfork. September 2, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  16. Craig Marks. "Zero Worship". Spin (June 1996).
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000) (DVD). Virgin Records. 2001.
  18. originally contributed by [The Sad Wizard] on landslide.2007.org
  19. originally contributed by SPKristy@aol.com on landslide.2007.org
  20. "Moby Tries To Collect Debt From Pumpkins Corgan". May 28, 1997. Archived from the original on June 14, 1997. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  21. "Australian-charts.com – The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  22. "Ultratop.be – The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  23. "Ultratop.be – The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  24. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2933." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  25. "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 2992." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  26. "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 2920." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  27. "The Smashing Pumpkins: 1979" (in Finnish). w:Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  28. "Lescharts.com – The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  29. "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (24.2. '96 – 1.3. '96)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). February 24, 1996. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  30. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – The Smashing Pumpkins". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  31. "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 10, 1996" (in Dutch). w:Dutch Top 40 Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  32. "Dutchcharts.nl – The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979" (in Dutch). w:Single Top 100. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  33. "Charts.nz – The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  34. "Notowanie nr746" (in Polish). LP3. May 17, 1996. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  35. "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  36. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  37. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  38. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  39. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  40. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  41. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  42. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  43. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  44. "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles 1996". Imgur.com (original document published by ARIA). Archived from the original on November 2, 2015. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  45. "Rapports Annuels 1996". Ultratop. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  46. "RPM Year End Top 100 Hit Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  47. "RPM Year End Dance Top 50". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  48. "RPM Year End Alternative Top 50". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  49. "Billboard Top 100 - 1996". longboredsurfer.com. Archived from the original on March 1, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  50. Roemer, Dan (April 26, 2014). "Here's a list of songs removed in GTA IV's latest update". Destructoid. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  51. "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".
  52. "British single certifications – Smashing Pumpkins – 1979". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 8, 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type 1979 in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  53. "American single certifications – Smashing Pumpkins – 1979". RIAA. Retrieved November 25, 2016. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links