Album: Siamese Dream
. . .
As legend — not to mention a bunch of stories at the time — has it, the sessions for Siamese Dream were fraught, to say the least. In a lot of respects, it a miracle that they finished the record at all. Not only was Billy Corgan suffering from writer’s block and suicidal ideation, guitarist James Iha & bassist D’arcy Wretzky had recently broken up. Oh, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain had become a heroin addict, often disappearing for days at time, which was a problem, since he was the only other member that the dictatorial perfectionist Corgan would let play on the record.
That said, it’s possible that Corgan — and mad genius producer Butch Vig — were at least somewhat OK with Chamberlain’s absences, as it gave them an excuse to layer zillion guitar overdubs on every single fucking song. “Drummer’s not here again. Oh well, I need to add another crunchy guitar part to “Mayonaise,” anyways.
So basically, what we have is a situation combining the crazed auteur of There’s A Riot Goin’ On, the smack problems of Exile on Main St. and the relationship tensions of Rumours, and probably should have burnt itself to the ground.
But it didn’t, of course, and instead became big enough that an album track like “Mayonaise” became one of the more popular songs from the record, despite the fact that because it was the last song written for the record, Corgan didn’t really work all that hard on the lyrics, which somehow fit the crunchy, yet melancholic music he and co-writer James Iha came up with.
You read that right: “Mayonaise” was one of two songs on the record that were co-written, so it’s possible that Iha might even have played on it. Maybe. What’s definitely true is that “Mayonaise” is weirdly affecting, especially as it gets to the final verse and Corgan doesn’t even bother coming up with proper rhymes.
Fool enough to almost be it
And cool enough to not quite see it
Dull enough to always feel this
Always old, I’ll always feel this
No more promise, no more sorrow
No longer will I follow
Can anybody hear me?
I just want to be me
The other cool thing about “Mayonaise” is the “whistling” guitar on the stop-start chorus. Apparently, Corgan had bought a cheap-ass guitar what would whine and whistle every time he stopped playing it, and so he set up the chorus so it would do just that, making sure that it whistled every time he sang “when I can / I will.”
All of this added up to a song that has had a long shelf life, and popular enough that it won a 2012 Rolling Stone readers poll as their readers favorite Smashing Pumpkins song, even over venerable radio faves like “1979,” “Cherub Rock” and “Bullet With Butterfly” wings, though one might surmise that those songs have been played so many times, there was a bit of a backlash involved.
“Mayonaise” live in Chicago, 1993
Did you miss a Certain Song? Follow me on Twitter: @barefootjim
The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page