Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan hosted a virtual benefit concert last night in honor of the victims of the Highland Park mass shooting in Illinois earlier this month. The set was hosted at Madam Zuzu’s, a teahouse that the singer frequently performs at. During the stream, he even debuted a new song inspired by the ordeal. You can listen to “Photograph” at the 97-minute mark on the archived webcast below:
Corgan reworked a Pumpkins song he had been working on to fit the theme of the incident after a local journalist prompted him to compose music about it.
“I started playing something and thought, that could work. Took a nap, woke up and the song was spinning in my head,” he said. “This is my reaction, I guess you could say, to what happened. I don’t know if it’s a good song or a bad song, but it certainly expresses the way that I feel.”
Corgan expanded on the opening scene of the song, saying that it is about him “explaining to somebody that I found a photograph of us standing in the very spot where this horrible thing happened. Suddenly you look at a photograph and suddenly it has meaning: ‘Oh, my god. We were in that spot.’ That’s what something like this does. It turns everything upside down. Good things become bad. Bad things become good. Simple things become complicated. Complicated things suddenly have no meaning, and certainly no resonance.”
The song also explores a dream where the singer sees a “young woman dancing by herself. She’s obviously dancing in my dream for those we’ve lost. My reaction is to try to explain to her, or ask her for something, which is interesting, because if she’s mourning the dead and the wounded, why do I need something from her? But I think we all have that reaction sometimes, right? We wonder what this has done to all of us. You could say it’s selfish. You could say it’s focused. But that’s what the rest of the song is about.”
“Our main thing is just to put on a real positive and unifying show while raising funds for the community. When you go through this, it’s like you don’t want to walk past where this happened,” Corgan said in a recent interview with Spin. “I mean, we were there last night eating ice cream literally right beneath where the shooter was. We’re there all the time, and we have to reclaim our space in the community.”
Photo Credit: Alyssa Fried