Billy Corgan vs. William Blake

This will probably be one of the most random posts I ever write, and I’ve technically already written it before, although that was in my journal sometime in 2008. Anyway…

Billy Corgan, lead singer of the shoegaze/alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins (my favorite band), produced an album in 1995 called Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The album was actually a double album with two discs and they were entitled Dawn to Dusk and Twilight to Starlight.

Billy Corgan

And William Blake, poet of the Romantic era, wrote two books of poems: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, published in 1789 and 1794 respectively.

I can’t help but wonder if perhaps Corgan got his idea from Blake, since it seems that in their music and poetry they were trying to make the point that the world is different when seen from different viewpoints: from childhood or adulthood, anger or sorrow, love or hatred.

I read the Blake poems when I was in college, and I found out that each poem from Songs of Innocence has an opposite poem in Songs of Experience. If you put each poem together with its opposite you come up with a whole.

The case is similar for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. As a whole, Dawn to Dusk has a louder and somewhat more violent sound than Twilight to Starlight, which has more quiet, contemplative songs. According to Corgan, the two albums were supposed to represent day and night. It’s interesting because “innocence” can be likened to the day, while night is more about “experience” and what you can learn from many days. Hopefully that’s not too much of a stretch.

William Blake

Blake’s collections of poetry were supposed to be about the transition from the innocence of childhood to the fall of innocence and gain of experience as a child becomes an adult. And, to some degree, Corgan’s albums are about similar concepts; Corgan supposedly wrote the album for 14- to 24-year-olds, since it’s about a search for identity. And, in my eyes, that search for identity leads to a loss of innocence.

Just thought it would be interesting to think about the parallels between two very different works of art.

6 thoughts on “Billy Corgan vs. William Blake

  1. An interesting post. Maybe Corgan was inspired by Blake – there are many different ways to express something.

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  2. It would be interesting to know if the influence was conscious.

    I confess that thinking of William Blake mostly reminds me of the movie Dead Man, where Johnny Depp’s character (an accountant from Cleveland) is named William Blake. He has apparently never heard of the poet, so he’s baffled when people keep quoting poetry to him.

    It’s a great movie.

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      1. It’s technically a Western, but it’s nothing like what you’d expect (no matter what you might expect a “Western” to be). Visually stunning (the minute I think about it I can see all sorts of images in my head), and I love the soundtrack.

        Okay, let me go over to Netflix, I’ve got to see this one again. 🙂

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