I sat down in the classroom portable after lunch recess and grabbed my book. I don't remember what it was I had been reading-- or pretending to read, more likely-- during Silent Sustained Reading [SSR]. I do remember that my Language Arts & Social Studies teacher, Mr. Burns, popped in a new CD as we sat down to read. He swore it'd be something we'd appreciate.
We all rolled our eyes at the first track, a dainty sounding piano tune. We were 13 and 14 year olds in the mid-90s, after all, and this sure wasn't Nirvana. I could hear exasperated sighs from my classmates as they asked why on earth he'd make us listen to Yanni. The humanity!
Then the second track started, and everyone shut right up.
I probably don't remember what book I was reading that day because I became so astounded by what I was hearing that I don't think I read a word. After SSR was over, I remember sheepishly asking Mr. Burns (who bore a striking resemblance to John Arbuckle-- a fact we young teens never let him forget) what we had just listened to.
"It's called Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," he said. "Have you heard of Smashing Pumpkins?"
This is probably the most uncool way to be introduced to a band. You may be thinking, You were introduced to Smashing Pumpkins through your 8th grade Social Studies teacher? Yes. Yes I was. I'm sure I'd encountered the Pumpkins before on MTV or the radio at some point before then, but I have no recollection of that now. All I remember is Mr. Burns brimming with pride at proving the room of middle schoolers wrong.
Silent Sustained Reading changed my life that day... Just not in any of the ways educators meant it to.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was released on October 24, 1995, and I turned 13 just a couple weeks later. We're both Scorpios, Mellon Collie and I, which probably says something about why I ended up so obsessed with this album. Wailing guitars, growling vocals, fluttering strings, and melodramatic lyrics combined powers to create a sonic trap for dark teenagers like myself, and set-off a years-long devotion to Smashing Pumpkins that carried me through the throes of high school and being a teenage girl. Their music was my coming of age.
I'm sure this is informative for people who have met me as an adult. I can hear the echoes of my friends' voices now: "That explains a lot."
You don't even know.
But I'm not writing this now as a celebration of Mellon Collie's 20th anniversary (though holy shit, I probably should've thought about that sooner). I'm writing about this because it's my birthday.
I'll explain: When I finally got a copy of the album for myself, I listened to it on repeat. I remember popping the second disc into my CD player taking note of "Thirty-Three" when it came on.