The great Led Zeppelin fantasy draft

Young Zeppelin

On Nov. 18, the Music or Space Shuttle? boys joined honorary MoSS? brother Travis for an evening of Led Zeppelin love at Donnelly’s Pub (the Music or Space Shuttle? Iowa City office). What we did was similar to this past summer’s Smashing Pumpkins “draft”: compile the best playlist of Zep tunes. Rather than having a traditional draft, we decided this time we’d put the songs on the auction block. Everyone would have a shot at songs, assuming they could budget accordingly. So armed with 100 credits and some drinks, sliders, and wings, we took turns tossing out tunes and creating 10-song playlists.

Here’s how it played out. Consider each guy’s recap and click the links at the bottom to have your say (or feel free to comment here on the blog).

Todd’s Draft Notes (a.k.a. In My Time of Drafting)

What was my drafting strategy for this time around? I’d like to say I walked into the drafting room like at the Smashing Plant 4 Pumpkins draft, unprepared but confident and loose. No, I studied for this one. The two days prior to drafting, I listened to Led Zep non-stop, choosing favorite songs and thinking about possible themes for a good set list. Should I go with the hits? Should I go with the bluesy stuff? Should I focus on one album? Maybe I’ll just take songs that reference The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Basically, I was rocking the fuck out of my cubicle at work. I’m usually quiet as a church mouse and keep to myself at the office so coworkers were taken aback by the braggadocio I exuded while strutted around my workspace like Robert Plant. There’s just something about Led Zeppelin that brings out that inner rock n’ roll god attitude.

So yeah, I had a few strategies. The only thing I didn’t have a plan for was the drafting method. We decided on an auction style draft this time. That meant that everyone had a chance to take any song as long as they bid the highest. With that knowledge I knew I didn’t want to get into some crazy bidding war on one song and screw myself out of good songs later in the draft by blowing a huge portion of my $100 limit.

With my first chance to bid, I started off with one of the songs at the top of my favorites list, “Ramble On.” I thought this may be a bid heavy song but luckily I got it for $15. Not too bad. It was early and we were all getting a feel for the auction process. Plus, I figured I could make up the deficit with some deep cuts later.

Sam was up next. He chose “The Rain Song,” the song I had highlighted as the one with the highest potential for crazy bidding. Every Zeppelin fan loves that song and I knew that my Main-MoSS?-Man Chris REALLY loves that song. Sam started the bidding low and we quickly went around the table driving the price further and further up. Once the bidding was in the teens Travis and I bailed out. Sam and Chris continued bidding until Sam finally won with a $40 bid. It’s a great tune but I’m sure Sam will admit that his now very limited budget severely hampered his future drafting. I think Chris teared up a bit when he finally gave up and lost. Maybe it was just from of the hot sauce on the chicken wings he was eating during the draft. Who’s to say?

For my second bid opportunity I chose “The Wanton Song.” I’ve always loved that song, mainly because of the percussion. It’s your typical John Bonham power drumming but I love all the little fills that he throws in during the choruses. No one else in the draft must have cared for Wanton as much as me because I won the bid with a thrifty $5. I now had two songs at an average of $10 a piece. Right on pace.Bonham

My third song purchased was “That’s the Way.” I friggin’ love that tune. I had it pegged as my “Must Have Song.” If I was going to really overpay for a song, this was it. To my shock I won the bidding without a struggle. I bought it for the low-low price of $10. Still right on pace.

I went with that strategy for the rest of the draft, taking songs at or below the $10 mark. The only song that I went over $10 with was “Bring It On Home,” the last song on Led Zeppelin II. I really wanted it for my set list closer. $15 was a small price to pay in my opinion. Especially since after that I picked up some absolute bargains:

“Your Time Is Gonna Come” for $10
“Friends” for $6
“Over the Hills and Far Away” for $11
“Immigrant Song” for $3
“Kashmir” $11
“Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” for $1

All of those kick-ass songs and I ended with a $13 surplus. The U.S. government could take a lesson from my frugal spending habits. Although, there was a small to medium sized controversy surrounding my last pick.

I had one song left to select and still had $14 remaining. I looked at my draft board (my iPhone) and saw 3-4 songs I would have been more than happy to have as my 10th selection. The song that caught my attention most was “In My Time of Dying,” a bluesy slide guitar filled song from Physical Graffiti. I started the bidding at $1. From Sam’s reaction at my choice, I got the impression this song was on his draft board as well. With his limited funds I thought he was struggling with whether or not to bid. Being a fairly good sport, I decided that if he bid I would just let him have the song. Then I realized he was really just bidding to get me out of the draft. My thrifty drafting of killer tunes was getting on his nerves. So he threw out a bid of $13 on the hopes I would counter with $14. He would concede and I would be out of the draft. Well that wasn’t going to happen. Like I said earlier, if he bid I was going to let him have it, only this bid was well over the song’s value and would further dip into his already minimal budget. Sportsmanship went out the window as I said, ”You can have it.” Sam was not thrilled. I’m wondering how his version of this event will go. (He swears a lot yet defends the hell out of it. –ed.) Anyways, after the dust cleared and my next turn came up I bid on and won the song “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” for $1. I’ve always loved the guitars on that one and it fit well in an already Led Zeppelin III-heavy set list.

Plant 1Was it a perfect draft? No. Did I walk away happy? Definitely. I only lost out on one song that I really coveted, “How Many More Times.” Chris and I had a small bidding war on that one. I gave up after $16. Seems silly now after leaving the draft with money on the table. Live and learn, I guess. I did really enjoy the auction style draft and hope we incorporate it in future fantasy playlist events. So after all that, here is my set list. I didn’t really have to spend much time tinkering with the song order. Like I wrote above, the list is a bit Led Zeppelin III heavy, so of course I open with the first two songs from that album. The rest sort of fell into place after that. Give it a spin. Careful not to get too crazy if you’re listening at work. Most workplaces will only tolerate a small amount of rock n’ roll machismo. Too much and someone will surely alert Human Resources.

 

 

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Team Travis (a.k.a. My Girlfriend Made Me Buy That One Song)

I am a music fan, and I am also a fan of making lists about music. So, when Chris approached me to join the MoSS? Led Zeppelin song auction…fuck yeah, I’m in.

I went into Donnelly’s Pub that night with a pretty good idea of the playlist I wanted, but I figured that with songs this good and three other guys with music tastes very similar to mine, I would face a battle for most of these.

The highlights from my perspective:

  1. Zeppelin acoustic“Going to California.” My favorite Led Zeppelin song, it’s just beautiful. Great Jimmy Page acoustic guitar. Outstanding lyrics. Just perfect. I was gonna go “all in.” As luck would have it, I won the roshambo match to see who started first, and I was not fucking around! The bids go around the table and…what? I just got “Going to California” for 10 credits? What just happened? I didn’t see that smooth victory coming. Little did the other guys know that they could have bankrupted me and left me with a playlist full of “South Bound Saurezes” and “Candy Store Rocks.”
  1. “When the Levee Breaks.” My second-favorite Zeppelin song. The thunderous drums, the slide guitar, and that harmonica that sounds like a freight train stuffed full of demons rolling through. That song has always had a Midwest, blue collar feel to me. I love it, and had to have it. I had a little more opposition with the bids, but I won it for 20 credits. Sweet, I’m off to a kick-ass start!
  1. It got bluesy up in here. I managed to score “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” “Tea For One,” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” I’ve heard a lot of people say Led Zeppelin stole from the old blues artists; I say I don’t give a fuck—they did it better every time. If you’ve ever been 10 beers deep, put on a dim red light, and listened to “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” you know where I’m coming from.
  1. “No Quarter.” That riff. That tone. ’Nuff said.
  1. I was very happy I was able to score both “What Is and What Should Never Be” and “Thank You.” Two great songs that are perfect for rounding out a Zeppelin mix between the rocking and the beautiful.
  1. “Heartbreaker.” I needed a rocker, and I got one. That opening riff just screams Led Zeppelin. A perfect rocking addition to my playlist.
  1. “All My Love.” OK, could I have gone for “Black Dog” at this point? Maybe “In The Evening”? Both good tunes that hadn’t been picked yet. Maybe “Gallows Pole”? Nope! I was instructed by my girlfriend before I left that I must have “All My Love.” We like that song. It has a special place. (She also demanded I get “Immigrant Song” because she is part-Viking, but I passed on that one.)

All in all, I think I made a fucking solid list…as did the other three guys. That’s the great thing about Led Zeppelin: you can make a kickass 40 song playlist. In retrospect I should have bid harder for “Dazed and Confused” and “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” As much as my playlist rocks, it’s missing those two songs. “Kashmir” also would have been a very welcome addition.

My biggest takeaway from the auction: I’ll admit, I never really gave “The Rain Song” a chance before. Chris and Sam went head to head for that song, and it wound up being the most expensive song of the night, ending at 40 credits. I thought, “Am I missing something here?” I went home and listened to it with a different set of ears, and I understand now. The slow build. The almost weather-sounding guitar licks. Then the glorious climax that is almost like the sun coming out after a storm. There’s just something about that moment when a song you’ve heard a million times finally makes sense. As Todd stated after many of the songs got put on the auction table: “Oooh, that’s a good one.”

Also, it was fun watching Sam give himself an ulcer.

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Team Sam: “Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Please Remove Your Gallows Pole From My Ass)”

I was 14 when Led Zeppelin entered my life. Seems young, but I already felt old. I was (happily) buried up to my eyeballs in pretty much nothing but thrash metal at that point, with a few lingering vestiges of the hair bands clinging for dear life. And for some reason, I fought it when my pal Scott Boone tried forcing this dinosaur band down my throat. In hindsight … um, why exactly? This band is the friggin’ foundation of every band I loved. He lent me his cassette of Led Zeppelin I, and it sat on my speaker for months. Months. I finally listened. Yeah OK, it was pretty good.

Then I heard IV. And II. Holy. Shit. Then he gave me Houses of the Holy, and it was the only album I listened to for months.

Oh yeah … Boone ended up becoming a priest. He spent time in the Vatican. He’s hung out with the Pope. Yeah, there’s some knowledge and influence there. Probably shoulda listened sooner. I’m sorry, padre. Please forgive me of my sins. Send up a good word for me.

I set out to make him proud in this draft. Piece of cake.

I boned up and created cheat sheats when we did the Pumpkins draft. But this one? No prep work. Why would I need to study? This is Led Zeppelin we’re talking about. The catalog is incredible, but it’s not vast. I knew my must-have list. This would be easy.

Wrong.

The Pumpkins snake draft had been easy, but I hadn’t even considered for a second what adding a fourth person to the mix would mean. And the bidding format? The fact that everyone had a shot at every song? Fuck. I didn’t know it, but I was in for a long night.

Pick #1: The Rain Song

This was Chris and me the first time we listened to “The Rain Song” together in 1998.

This was a no-brainer. The only song going into the draft I knew I had to have. And I knew it would be a fight. I knew Chris loved it as much as I did. It was going to be a bloodbath.

The mistake was not waiting. I should have let a few rounds pass until I got a feel for the bidding. But instead, I figured “let’s get this out of the way right now.” Patience is a virtue … I wish I had remembered that.

I put it up fourth overall, the first time the pick was mine was to make. Todd and Travis didn’t even bother and got out almost immediately as bidding jumped by increments of five. Neither guy was backing down.

Eventually, I said $38. Chris countered with $39. Was I really ready to spend $40 on one song? I was ready to begrudgingly bug out.

But it was “The Rain Song.” Much as I tried, I physically could not stop. I said $40. I swear to God, if Chris had said $41, I was out. But he was the one who couldn’t pull the trigger. I had won.

In the greater scheme of things, turns out I probably didn’t. With all the ammo he saved, Chris went on to draft a playlist for the ages. Meanwhile, I was Mike Ditka trading my whole draft class to pick Ricky Williams. Almost half my credits were gone. On one song.

Let’s make one thing clear right now: that’s not a knock on “The Rain Song.” Sweet fucking Christ, no. It’s eight minutes of musical perfection. It’s easily my favorite Led Zeppelin song of all time. And it’s probably in my top five songs ever created by man.

It’s just a very hard song to build a draft around. I would just have to find a way. With food stamps, apparently.

Pick #2: Tangerine

After the shock had worn off, I had to soldier on. I watched helplessly as song after song I coveted slipped out of my grasp. But I couldn’t let “Tangerine” go without a fight. My favorite song off of III (almost neck and neck with “That’s The Way,” which I later found out was Todd’s must-have. I didn’t have the ammunition to fight for it so he got it for fucking peanuts).

The good news? I got “Tangerine.” The bad news? It cost $12. I now only had $48 to spend on my last eight songs – a scant $6 per song. I wasn’t optimistic.

But I’d worry about it later. “Tangerine” was worth the risk, since it’s the soundtrack to the perfect epilogue of one of my top five favorite movies of all time, Almost Famous:

Pick #4: In My Time of Dying

By the time I acquired a deep-cut favorite (“Out on the Tiles”) with my third pick, everyone else was eight or nine deep. It was ridiculous. Todd had filled his first nine slots and still had $14 left. He put “In My Time of Dying,” the 11-minute epic from Physical Graffiti, on the board. After a very solid draft, it would’ve been the perfect closing pick for him. And for me to navigate the rest of the draft on the cheap, I need him out. I didn’t have my heart set on the tune, so I wanted to make sure he took it. We both win, right?

The problem is that I was on tilt from losing so many of my coveted songs, causing my admittedly dumb ass to actually announce this plan OUT LOUD at the table. And instead of jumping in with a low bid, I immediately bid $13, meaning Todd could go to $14 and finish up strong.

Instead, he says “take it.”

Motherfucker. I’m convinced he did it just to see me melt down. If that’s the case, he succeeded.

Even worse, he takes “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” – one of the more annoying songs in the Led Zeppelin catalog (seriously, it’s on par with “Hot Dog”) – for a dollar, finishing with a surplus of 13 imaginary dollars, which he can use to finance his trip to the land of fucking make-believe, climbing rainbows and hunting leprechauns while mounted on his flying unicorn. Meanwhile, I had spent $70 on four songs.

The next day when I was assembling my final playlist, I realized I was an idiot for being mad about this. Why? Because of his majesty, Sir John Fucking Bonham.

There’s a reason why every kid who picks up a set of drumsticks wants to be this guy. This is the king’s showcase tune. And for anyone still doubting this, skip ahead to the 3:45 mark. The timing of a metronome, yet he still hits really fucking hard. The footwork … no double bass drum. All with one foot. Unbelievable. I can’t believe I was pissed. I got lucky.

So Todd, enjoy the hillbilly romp with your last pick. If you’d stuck to your guns, your playlist might’ve rivaled Chris.

I thought I was the one who fucked up. Turns out it was you. Idiot.

(Did you write this part after the Odell Beckham catch or something? –ed.)

(Yes. Yes, I did. Too obvious? — Sam)

* * * * *

I ended up sailing through the rest of the draft somewhat painlessly. I jumped in on a few songs just to drive the price up on Travis and Chris and give myself some breathing room. I scooped up a few of my favorite deeper cuts like “The Battle of Evermore” and “Down by the Seaside” for pennies, and scored “The Song Remains the Same” to be my closer (even though it’s actually an album opener).

Also, here’s some random notes on a few of my picks:

Pick #9: The Ocean

“I think her name is Lucy but they all call her Loose …”

I was into the Beastie Boys before I knew Zeppelin. It’s only fair to acknowledge that here:

Speaking of which …

Pick #7: Good Times Bad Times

Like I said, I was buried in thrash metal before I discovered the Zep. This is a perfect example of me needing to pay better attention back then, because there was a (short) time when I didn’t know this was a cover:

Pick #3: Out on the Tiles

Zeppelin has always been accused of, ahem, “liberally borrowing” from the great old blues legends. But what about the bands that liberally borrow from them? There’s a pretty cool new band out there called Rival Sons, and when I caught the video for their song “Pressure and Time” on the new 120 Minutes a while back, its main riff sounded vaguely familiar

Pick #10: Custard Pie

With everyone’s boards full, the guy that at one time only had $48 to pick eight songs now had $17 left to pick two songs unopposed. Christ. I went with the aforementioned “The Ocean” first.

There were some very well-known tunes left in the pool for the final pick in the draft. “Black Dog.” “Rock and Roll.” “Communication Breakdown.” “Fool in the Rain.” “Achilles Last Stand.”

But as a guy burned out on the band’s populist tunes ruined by classic rock radio, I wasn’t interested. In fact, I would’ve given up a spot and paid my cohorts to NOT infect our draft with “D’yer Mak’er.” Thankfully, that was unnecessary.

(And my sincerest apologies, Booner, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on “The Crunge.” The image of you dancing in those bell-bottomed maroon sweatpants of yours wasn’t enticing enough. I guess we’ll never find that confounded bridge, padre.)

Instead, I picked this one, the opener from Physical Graffiti, mainly because the version that Page played with the Black Crowes kicks all kinds of ass:

* * * * *

I won’t lie: When we were done, I was disappointed with my list and thought it was pretty clear that Chris had dominated the draft. Because I went for “The Rain Song” way too early, before I had figured out a gameplan, Travis (“Thank You”), Todd (“Your Time is Gonna Come” and “That’s the Way”), and Chris (“Ten Years Gone”) all got songs I coveted without much of a fight, and I never stood a chance when heavy hitters like “When the Levee Breaks,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “Stairway To Heaven” were up for grabs.

But thankfully, as I listened to my final assembled playlist aboard an elliptical machine at my gym, I had an epiphany.

In what fucking universe was my list bad?

It has my favorite Zeppelin song of all time. It has another top five song. It has a signature Bonham song. It has a whole gaggle of songs that I’ve absolutely loved for decades.

Most importantly, it has a bunch of killer tunes that haven’t been buried by overexposure on classic rock radio. I grew up in Marshalltown listening to FM 95 KGGO – (Skynyrd! Boston! Eagles! Only Back in Black and that’s it by AC/DC! Clapton’s absolute worst!) – and you heard the same Zeppelin songs. All. The. Time. So as good as Chris’ list is, I’ve heard “Whole Lotta Love” and “Misty Mountain Hop” and even “Stairway to Heaven” enough.

If I wanted to initiate a novice to the band, I’d pick his list, sure. But if I wanted to show a budding fan what lies beneath, I think I’d pick mine over Travis and Todd’s lists. I might just feel differently tomorrow, but that’s how I feel as I write this. That’s because all four lists effing rule. ALL of them. But if you’re ready to take a deeper dive, grab a vest and start here.

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Team Chris (a.k.a. Sara M Knows a Winner When She Sees One)

I spent most of the week before our Led Zep extravaganza in Atlanta with two of my favorite co-workers (and two of my favorite people, period), where we ate, drank, ate, watched Interstellar, ate, drank, ate grits, drank, watched The Breakfast Club, ate, and drank things named “Buttery Nipple,” “Naked Girl Scout,” and “The Wet Spot.” And we went to sessions and workshops on higher education communication when we had time.

One particular night before we went out, Sara M fired up a YouTube video of Led Zep performing in 1969, tearing through a handful of tunes from the debut album. We had recently talked about Led Zeppelin I‘s place in the band’s album hierarchy; I argued it was fourth-best at best, while she said it belonged among the very best. And seeing these young kids (Plant and Bonham were 20 at most at the time) go to work, I suddenly realized she might be correct. (She usually is.)

Anyway, I went into our Led Zep playlist auction fresh off this awakening. And it kinda shows in my playlist, or perhaps the amount of money I spent on the three songs I bought from the debut album.

Going in, I had five songs I really wanted: “The Rain Song” (this has been covered above, I believe), “Ten Years Gone,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” and “How Many More Times.”

success-lolFour out of five = success. Consider: Meat Loaf says a 66.6666666666666667% rate of success ain’t bad, so I am confident that 80% isn’t too shabby.

“Whole Lotta Love” was my introduction to Led Zeppelin, courtesy of my dad’s vinyl copy of Led Zeppelin II. It was like something out of Almost Famous: young teen, over-the-ear headphones, dark bedroom, and genuine intrigue. It was amazing to hear the song swirl around the headphones. Song will always hold a lofty spot for me.

I enjoyed the fight for a couple of these songs (“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “How Many More Times”). They both went a bit above the average price ($18 and $16) but money well spent. I also respected Sam’s determination to get our shared favorite song.

The cool thing, aside from getting the best playlist of the bunch (speaking objectively, of course), is that our personal “quirky” songs were exposed through low-bid wins. Mine: “Four Sticks” for $1 and “Bron-Yr-Aur” for $3. I once suggested our football team take the field to “Four Sticks” (request denied); I think it would have been pretty fucking intimidating. And “Bron-Yr-Aur” is a couple of minutes of beauty. Todd got his with “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” and Travis landed “Tea for One” for $1. Sam got a couple as well, although he had to go up to $4 to keep “Down By the Seaside” off my list.

The biggest surprise was my acquisition of three songs from Led Zeppelin IV, especially “Stairway to Heaven.” But as songs went off the board, I realized that those overplayed tunes on IV are overplayed for a reason: they’re pretty fuckin’ good (like a $5 milkshake, one might say). And I must admit, listening to “Stairway” always takes me back to my football days, sitting in front of my locker, cranking the last two minutes of that tune through my Walkman earphones and feeling like I could run through a wall. Not because the lyrical content would inspire one to do that; not because the song goes at 200 bpm. I think it was the crescendo effect of an epic song. And for $12, why not add it to the list.

I couldn’t wait to get back to work the next day and blare my playlist for my officemate…the aforementioned Sara M. She approved, with a sly wink toward “all the Led Zeppelin I on here.”

Yeah, yeah…

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Auction recap

(listed in order of acquisition; winning bid in parentheses)

Travis

  • Going to California (10)
  • When the Levee Breaks (20)
  • Tea for One (1)
  • Thank You (17)
  • No Quarter (11)
  • Since I’ve Been Loving You (16)
  • Heartbreaker (8)
  • I Can’t Quit You Baby (3)
  • What Is and What Should Never Be (7)
  • All My Love (1)

Chris

  • Whole Lotta Love (20)
  • Dazed and Confused (10)
  • How Many More Times (16)
  • Four Sticks (1)
  • Ten Years Gone (16)
  • Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (18)
  • Stairway to Heaven (12)
  • Dancing Days (1)
  • Bron-Yr-Aur (3)
  • Misty Mountain Hop (3)

Todd

  • Ramble On (15)
  • The Wanton Song (5)
  • That’s the Way (10)
  • Your Time Is Gonna Come (10)
  • Bring It On Home (15)
  • Friends (6)
  • Over the Hills and Far Away (11)
  • Immigrant Song (3)
  • Kashmir (11)
  • Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp (1)

Sam

  • The Rain Song (40)
  • Tangerine (12)
  • Out on the Tiles (5)
  • In My Time of Dying (13)
  • The Battle of Evermore (1)
  • The Song Remains the Same (5)
  • Good Times Bad Times (3)
  • Down By the Seaside (4)
  • The Ocean (1)
  • Custard Pie (1)

What song would you have broken the bank to get? What song(s) should have made our lists? And is there a clear winner among the four playlists? Sound off in the comments, or have your say on our Facebook page. Or yell at us on Twitter.

The great Smashing Pumpkins fantasy draft: The results

Look, these guys have had almost three years and several essays to talk about the Pumpkins. I went long. Way long. I hope you’ll indulge me a little catch-up. —Sam

As such, he has to go last. —Chris

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Deep down, we’re all fantasy nerds of some sort. Some of us play fantasy football. Others are into fantasy baseball.

Smashing Pumpkins, 1993. World domination was right around the corner.

Smashing Pumpkins, 1993. World domination was right around the corner.

 

The three of us, we’re into the Smashing Pumpkins. So we got together the other night at Buffalo Wild Wings and took turns picking songs for our own personal Smashing Pumpkins playlist. The waitress was quite impressed with our coolness. (Srsly.)

A quick recap of the format:

The playlist would feature 15 songs. Nine of the songs had to fit within the following categories:

  • A “Track 1” song
  • An album-closing song
  • A song lasting at least 8 minutes
  • A cover song
  • A James Iha song
  • A song featuring a girl’s name
  • A song from Pisces Iscariot
  • A song from either Adore or MACHINA
  • A song released after 2000

The other six songs were wild cards–whatever the drafter wanted to round out his playlist.

A game of “Odd or Even” made Chris the odd man out, meaning he would pick third overall (but first in the even rounds). Sam and Todd engaged in one round of “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” which saw Todd’s scissors slice through Sam’s paper, giving him claim to the first overall pick.

The next hour was filled with tense stares, reactionary curses, and the occasional air guitar gesture. At draft’s end, three Pumpkin fans were quite happy with their playlists…

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Todd (a.k.a. Team Siamese Dream)

What was my drafting strategy? I played it just like Fast Eddie Felson from the movie The Hustler… Fast and Loose. I did very little in preparation for this draft. OK, I did re-listen to a few B-sides and get reacquainted with some old favorites but I did not walk into the draft room (Buffalo Wild Wings) with binders, notepads, or laptops filled with cheat sheets, lists, and sub-lists. No, I walked in armed with only my iPhone music library and a desire to drink beer and talk about great music. Honestly, I was just hoping that, aside from a few key tracks, the diversity of our musical tastes would allow me to pick at will from my favorite SP songs. I think my “No Strategy” strategy worked out well.

After winning a cutthroat round of “Odd or Even” and an even more brutal game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” I won the rights to the 1st pick. This was the outcome I was hoping for. By having to fill mandatory categories I knew certain songs would be highly coveted. With that in mind, I chose “Cherub Rock” as my first pick and used it as my “album opener song.” It is without question the Pumpkins’ greatest opening track and I knew I couldn’t go wrong using it to set up my 15-song playlist.

To further underscore my feeling toward this song, I will lift a passage from a past post of mine naming Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream, my favorite album of all time…

I really don’t have the words to properly describe the awesomeness of this record but I’ll try. The drum roll at the start of the opening track, “Cherub Rock”, gives you the feel of being at some boardwalk sideshow. You half expect a carnival barker to start yelling,

“Step right up folks! Get ready for the greatest thing you have or will ever hear!”

Then there’s the slow build until shit just fucking explodes. The guitars are thunderous and almost force your arms into the air guitar position “You will bow down to the awesome and air guitar or I will destroy you!”

cherubI also would have bet my life that “Cherub Rock” wouldn’t be available had I waited for the snake draft to get back around to me.

Which leads me to the one problem with starting 1st: You have to watch some positively amazing songs get selected while you not-so-patiently wait your turn. Take “Drown,” for instance. It’s the one song I truly wish I would have picked but didn’t get a chance. Sam took it as the second pick. I knew it was going to happen. And if he didn’t take it then, I guarantee Chris would have used pick #3 or #4 to select it. “Drown” is probably my “gun-to-the-head” choice as favorite Pumpkins song. It’s not just my favorite Pumpkins song; I would wager that 90% of us Pumpkins freaks would choose “Drown” as his or her favorite song. It’s the last song on the legendary soundtrack to the movie Singles. To help underscore my thoughts on “Drown” I will lift another passage. This time from Chris’ awesome post about the aforementioned Singles soundtrack…

And this was eight minutes of the Billy Fucking Corgan Experience. A nice groove, laid-back vocals, quiet-loud dynamics, killer drum fills, and then four minutes of feedback bliss, layered many times over.

So why didn’t I pick it when I had the chance? Maybe I’m a fool. I went with my head and chose a killer lead track to setup a killer playlist instead of going with my heart and choosing my sentimental favorite. I’ll stand by my decision. It only stings a little.

Back to the draft… One of the nice things about sitting at the start of a snake draft is that you pick 2 at a time after the 1st round. I used this to my advantage, usually taking a song to fill a mandatory category and then a personal “must-have” song.

My 2nd and 3rd picks, I used to select “Mayonaise,” a standout from Siamese Dream, and “Bury Me,” my favorite song from Gish.

Fourth and fifth, I selected the epic “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” to fill my “8 minute song” selection and “Rocket” because I fucking love the guitars on it.

For my 6th and 7th picks, I chose Siamese Dream closing track “Luna” and my favorite song from Pisces Iscariot, “Obscured.” I was ecstatic that “Luna” was available. Now I had the opener and closer from my favorite album of all time. Getting “Obscured” was another victory because Sam voiced his disappointment in missing out on that one. It slightly made up for his “Drown” selection.

8th and 9th, I was pleased to select “Siva” and the Fleetwood Mac cover song “Landslide.” I was actually pretty surprised to see “Siva,” one of Gish’s standout tracks, still available. It’s another personal favorite and face-melting guitar rager. On the other hand, I wasn’t surprised to see “Landslide” available but I wanted to fill my cover song category and I do love me some Fleetwood Mac. It just seemed like a natural fit.

Quickly back to “Siva.” This song brings up a minor area of contention for me. Before the draft, we agreed that alternate versions of songs The+Smashing+Pumpkins+Gish+eracould be used as long as they were on a proper release. I didn’t really think it through before I agreed. I probably would have been outvoted anyway but… what a crock of shit! I was lucky enough to score “Siva” mid-round and 4 picks later Chris takes a Peel Sessions version? Sort of takes the thunder out of my pick. Guess next draft I’ll have to use some rarities album with alternate takes of songs I missed out on. “With my 10th pick I’ll take the Jack-off Sessions version of ‘Drown.’ You know, the one where D’Arcy farts the bassline into the microphone.” Again, Crock of Shit!

[ED: This was my suggestion … total strategy. I knew that if Todd or I took “Siva,” from past CD mix experience, Chris would absolutely take the Peel Sessions version. He couldn’t have resisted. I was trying to open up another slot for myself down the road. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering taking the Earphoria version of “Silverfuck,” solely for the “Jackboot” outro. – Sam]

For picks 10 and 11, I selected “Frail and Bedazzled” from Pisces Iscariot and “Here is No Why” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Neither of these filled a category but they were too good to pass up.

My last four picks I purposely held onto until the end betting that no one else would have chosen them. To fill the “Adore/MACHINA” category I selected my favorite song from Adore, “Once Upon a Time.”

My last wild card spot went to the oddly titled but totally kick-ass “Set the Ray to Jerry,” one of the more obscure little nuggets from The Aeroplane Flies High.

I selected “The Boy,” also from Aeroplane, for my “James Song.” Not much to say about this one. It’s a James song. It’s nice.

And finally, my post-2000 selection, “Owata,” a jaunty little number from the still in-progress project album Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.

Was it a perfect draft? No. Did I walk away happy? Hells yeah! I was only disappointed in missing out on 2 or 3 songs, and the songs I chose instead will more than suffice. If we had added 3-4 more people drafting, things would certainly have gotten ugly. All in all, the drafting process was not nearly as difficult as I thought it might be. The really grueling experience was creating the proper lineup for my selections. After hours of re-arranging and listening through several variations, I’m pretty happy with the finished product. Give it a spin and hear for yourself.

#####

Chris (a.k.a. Team Pisces Iscariot)

When I was the odd man out in our Odd or Even game, I thought, “Well, there’s only one way I really lose here. And that’s if both ‘Cherub Rock’ and ‘Drown’ go off the board 1-2.”

Well, yeah, that sucked.

But otherwise, like the other two fellas, I’m happy with how things turned out. I’m not surprised. The Pumpkins’ catalog is quite deep and rather varied. The three of us have diverse tastes at a granular level, even though we are in lockstep on a macro scale. This project was tailor-made for us, and looking at the “snubs” playlist we created after the draft, we could have invited a fourth person and it would have been satisfying for the entire quartet.

Songs I really wanted that I got: “Silverfuck” (#2), “Starla” (#3), “Suffer” (#4), “Soma” (#6), “Siva (Peel Sessions) (#9).” I guess I like the letter S.

I do indeed love the Peel Sessions version of “Siva.” More raw. Longer pause after the “I just want to get there faster” line before crashing back in, so more tension. Billy’s scream of “YEEEEA-AAAHHHH!” after they come back is powerful. Love it.

“Soma” is the perfect crescendo song. They opened with it at Lollapalooza 1994 in St. Paul, which seemed like an odd choice but ended up being quite memorable. “Silverfuck” is primal. You should have seen me tear through the mosh pit at the Palmer Auditorium show in 1994 after the whole “Over the Rainbow” interlude played out and the band crashed back to life. Flannel dudes went flying like bowling pins as I flailed through the circle.

i am one back image“Starla” is one of my favorite grooves, and it lasts a satisfying 11 minutes. The guitar work over the second half of the song isn’t quite “Drown” levels of awesome, but close. And “Suffer” has more fans than just Sam. Heck, even Tricky used the song to form the foundation of his song “Pumpkin” on his debut album, Maxinquaye. If I were going to make things personal, I would have grabbed “Jackie Blue” for my cover song.

Songs I got that I like that I figured I’d get without a fight: “Whir” (#11), “Tarantula” (#12), “Hello Kitty Kat” (#14). “Whir” was my favorite song on Pisces Iscariot that hadn’t already appeared as a b-side. And “Tarantula” reminds me of songs like “Siva” and “Quiet,” and I instantly liked it better than anything on Adore or MACHINA. “Hello Kitty Kat” is a solid rocker that I was cool with at #14. It’s not as good as “Frail and Bedazzled,” but it’s as good as/better than “Plume” or “Pissant.”

Songs I picked above my personal valuation: “I Am One” (#1), “Blew Away” (#5), “A Night Like This” (#7). Well, if I can’t have “Cherub Rock,” this has to be my opener. First Pumpkins song I ever heard. Instantly hooked. “Blew Away” is classic James, so why not. And I had to have the Cure song for my cover. I overpaid for all three, but it’s like picking Joe Mauer early in a fantasy baseball draft. The talent pool isn’t deep at some spots.

Song I like better now than I did back then: “Tonight, Tonight” (#10). One of the songs I often skipped past when listening to Mellon Collie, now it’s the only Mellon Collie song on my playlist. Go figure. I do love some Mellon Collie stuff: “Porcelina,” “Zero,” “Thirty-Three,” “Bodies,” “Muzzle,” “1979,” “Galapogos,” “Thru the Eyes of Ruby,” even “We Only Come Out at Night.” But this album didn’t quite go in my wheelhouse like the earlier stuff did. Anyway, I like the grand scale of “Tonight, Tonight” a little more these days than I did when I used to air-guitar more often. (I still air-guitar at 40, but nothing like I did at 21.)

Two great songs without comment: “Daydream” (#8) and “Quiet” (#13).

One song because I had to pick from two albums I don’t really like: “Ava Adore” (#15). Adore isn’t as horrible as it sounded to me 16 years ago. MACHINA still sucks.

So I was able to close my playlist with “Starla,” “Silverfuck,” and “Daydream.” That was priority one. I also got a few b-sides that I love. More than anything, I really enjoyed what this fantasy draft yielded: three dudes who didn’t know each other during the heights of Pumpkindom (but I believe shared the floor at the Palmer Auditorium show in 1994?) reminiscing about when they first heard the Billy Corgan Experience and why certain songs spoke to them. I’m not sure there are many gangs of three in my social circle that could speak confidently and passionately about many other bands than the Pumpkins. I do wonder how this would have played out had our Iowa City friend Travis rounded out the draft…

#####

Sam (a.k.a. Team Gish)

I retired from fantasy football in 2004, mainly because I had the annoying knack of ruining guys’ careers if I picked them. In 2002, I took Kurt Warner with the first overall pick, but apparently his deal with the devil ran out after emerging from relative obscurity for three consecutive league-wrecking seasons; he got his eggs scrambled and broke his thumb in Week 1. In 2003, for reasons I still cannot explain (I’m saying I had a temporary stroke; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), instead of saying Peyton Manning, which my brain was thinking, I said Donovan McNabb, who was still an elite quarterback at that point in time. He had the worst year of his career. Manning? He threw 49 touchdowns. In 2004, I had Ahman Green, who got injured in the last preseason game. Fuck this shit.

But I know the Pumpkins. I could do this. No problem.

Yes, I put together a cheat sheet. It took all of about seven minutes. Three or four tunes in each category and all the album tracks that popped in my head. I know the catalog that well. There was no need for me to Mel Kiper the hell out this draft board.

But after arriving at the war room (in this case, Buffalo Wild Wings), as I got out of the car, I remember thinking, “I have to get ‘Drown.’ And ‘Hummer.’ And ‘Rhinoceros.’ And ‘Suffer.’ If I don’t get them, I’m gonna be fucking pissed.”

Ummm, I may have taken this waaaaayyyyyy more seriously than I care to admit.

I would be picking second, which I was secretly happy about (but only if I got my first choice). I’d rather take one song and sit out two picks, than get two picks and have to sit through four.

When it was all said and done, I thankfully got my first overall choice. I also got my first choice in seven of the nine specialty categories.

Pick 1: “Drown”

My whole draft hinged on this. With Track 1s at a premium (only two absolute slam dunks), I was banking on Todd taking one of them with the No. 1 pick. He didn’t disappoint, snapping up “Cherub Rock” before I could even think “I hope he takes ‘Cherub Rock’ and not ‘Drown.’”

Whew.

I didn’t hesitate. I took “Drown” without allowing anyone else to blink (and filled my “8-plus minutes” slot at the same time).

Chris groaned loudly … those were his top two picks and they were gone. I personally think he took it out on me the rest of the night.

Look, I get why Todd did what he did – taking “Cherub Rock” was like taking Hakeem Olajuwon in the ’84 draft. Hard to pass that up, with athletic 7-footers (and dominating Track 1s) that can win you a couple of titles coming at a premium. But as far as I was concerned, he could have Hakeem – I wanted Michael Jordan.

Singles soundtrack cover imageOne of the defining songs of my youth. When it came out, I swear to God I listened to it at least once a day for six straight months. The soundtrack to some very memorable moments in my life. It made a time that I almost hooked up with a girl I had fantasized about (but ultimately didn’t) a memory that’s lasted since my sophomore year of college. If “Drown” wasn’t the song playing in the background, I’d have forgotten about it years ago, but because it was the angsty ’90s and you tended to romanticize even the painful missed opportunities … hey, it’s all good.

Happy to have you on my team, “Drown.”

***

With my next five picks, I alternated a couple wild-cards – I quickly grabbed “Rhinoceros” second and “Hummer” fourth (I got a thing for the quiet/LOUD builder-uppers) – while filling in some of mandatory slots (all first choices) with “Glynis” (girls’ name), “La Dolly Vita” (Pisces), and “Jackie Blue” (cover tune). I remember feeling lucky that “Glynis” was still there (that and “Drown” headline the two defining alt-rock compilation records of the ‘90s in No Alternative and Singles, respectively), but since I would have bet my life that Chris was gonna pick The Cure’s “A Night Like This” as his cover tune (which he did), I didn’t sweat that the Ozark Mountain Daredevils would still be there for me (I had Blondie’s “Dreaming” waiting in the wings, just in case). But with Todd lurking, I just wanted to be sure.

Pick 7: “Stand Inside Your Love”

I was stunned when I realized I didn’t take one single Adore song in the draft. I’ve always believed that while that album didn’t have the depth that the original trio of albums had, the four or five songs that I really liked on it, I actually loved. A lot. I would’ve loved to have found a spot for “For Martha,” “To Sheila,” and “Shame.”

On the flip side, I could never get into MACHINA. Maybe it was because of things I didn’t know at the time (such as the fact that it was supposed to be part of a double concept album that the label nixed), but the whole thing felt fragmented at the time (and now I know why). But “Stand Inside Your Love”? That song is the fuckin’ truth. It’s the last truly essential song by the original lineup, and I hold it in the same regard that I hold Gish and Siamese Dream. Easily topped my list in the “Adore or MACHINA” category.

Pick 9: “Thru the Eyes of Ruby”

I saw Jane’s Addiction during their original reunion tour on November 3, 1997, at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. The surprise unannounced opening act that night? The Pumpkins. I have three favorite songs on Mellon Collie (“Muzzle,” “Porcelina,” and “Ruby”). In a brief five-song set that night, they played all three of them. They opened with “Ruby.” That concert was one of the first “yes, I was there” bragging moments of my life up to that point.

Pick 10: “Panopticon”

The Smashing Pumpkins in 2012: Nicole Fiorentino, Billy Corgan, Mike Byrne, and Jeff Schroeder

The Smashing Pumpkins in 2012: Nicole Fiorentino, Billy Corgan, Mike Byrne, and Jeff Schroeder

Not only was this the song at the top of my board for the “Post-2000” slot, it’s the song that has me the most excited about the future of the band. Nicole Fiorentino creates the foundation, with a bassline that elegantly yet confidently cuts through the galloping, stuttering guitar riffs laid down by Corgan and Jeff Schroeder. But the true revelation here is young Mike Byrne, whose relentless pummeling of the drums makes it clear to any worry warts out there that there is indeed life in Pumpkinland after Jimmy Chamberlin. Once Tommy Lee is finished laying down the beats for the new album, I look forward to the opportunity to see Byrne anchoring the Pumpkins on tour somewhere down the line.

***

Things were humming at this point. I had snagged one of my favorite Gish album tracks (“Snail”) at 8, and it actually got to a point where it kinda felt like Todd and I were working in unison (we weren’t).

But that’s when Chris started working at Al Davis/Jerry Jones levels of terrorism in the war room.

With only two absolute slam dunks in the “Track 1” category (“Cherub Rock” and “I Am One”), before we started, I had lobbied that the opening piano-only title track on Mellon Collie could be combined with “Tonight, Tonight” (which is actually Track 2) as an album opener. I seem to remember Todd agreeing quickly and Chris fighting it. But he was outvoted. All three guys now could take a beloved epic opener. Everyone would be happy.

That is, until Chris, that dirty sonofabitch – already the owner of “I Am One” – took “Tonight, Tonight” as one of his wild cards.

As I dreamt of smacking Chris with a leather glove and demanding satisfaction, I moved on momentarily by filling my “James Iha” slot with Mellon Collie closer “Farewell and Goodnight” (my first choice). But that’s when I realized the other two slam dunks in the “album closer” category – “Daydream/I’m Going Crazy” and “Luna” – had both already been scooped up.

Was I really going to have to move “Farewell and Goodnight” to the “closer” slot and pick another James song? That would be like picking two kickers in lieu of two running backs. And besides the one I already had, there was only one other acceptable “James” choice in my book – “Blew Away” (that guitar solo … swoon).

But it was already off the board. Owned by who? The terrorist Chris, of course.

Thankfully, I found a loophole …

Pick 12: “Smiley”

One of my favorite b-sides. It’s the last song on the great Peel Sessions EP. Score.

Pick 14: “Doomsday Clock”

After snagging another wild card with “Window Paine” off Gish (so glad it was still there), it was time for my Track 1. It was gonna be “To Sheila” or this. It was at this moment that I almost gleefully remembered, “You know something? I never really liked ‘Tonight, Tonight’ all that much anyway.” And then I remembered that of all the songs on the uneven 2007 comeback album Zeitgeist, “Doomsday Clock” was my favorite. By far. And it Absolutely. Fucking. Shreds. Do I like “To Sheila” better as a song overall? Maybe. But I wanted to kick off my playlist with a nut crusher. Check. Mate.

Pick 15: “Crush”

For my final pick of the draft, there were still four songs on the board I really wanted. “Slunk” was there. “For Martha” was there. “Blue” was there. “Muzzle” was there. But I went with “Crush,” the ballad of Gish. Here’s why …

When I was in high school, my pack of girl friends, for some reason, called themselves the Galloping Weasles. I still have no idea why. I also have no idea why they spelled Weasels “Weasles.” Measles, maybe? They all had a pair of blue mesh shorts with “WEASLES” scrawled across their asses. Some of us guys took great pride in calling them the phonetically correct Weez-Less. It was a never-ending source of cheap laughs.

But the ladies debuted these shorts on the night that my pal Aaron Eads and I DJ’ed an after-game dance in the cafeteria our senior year. It was the annual National Honor Society dance and our sponsor – the assistant principal, Mr. Bell – tasked a couple of us with finding a DJ with reasonable rates. Eads and I, without putting too much thought into it, kind of impulsively said, “We’ll do it ourselves, and you don’t have to pay us.” He gave us a skeptical look but then foolishly agreed to let us take a shot.

One slight problem – we had no DJ equipment. Nothing. Just boatload of CDs. But we started a guerilla-style round of advertising, christening our big debut as “the alternative option to the regular school dance,” which had over the course of the previous couple years become more and more sparsely attended (I remember Eads, who went through a phase where he really thought he was Jim Morrison, scribbling on one of our ghetto ad posters, “Doors ’til You Drop!”). Basically, we had absolutely NO intention of playing anything resembling dance club music.

One night, Eads basically plugged his piece-of-shit Walmart stereo that he got in eighth grade into his guitar amp … and it worked. We put my CD player in one output and his into the other and practiced our cross-fading skills. We fancied ourselves Skrillex and Deadmau5 20 years ahead of the curve.

As we set up in the cavernous cafeteria, we were afraid it wasn’t gonna be loud enough. So we gave it a trial run when the room was still empty and it was just the two of us. Yep, seemed pretty loud.

An hour later, everyone started showing up, and whether it was because people wanted to actually hear our kind of music (doubtful), they were just bored on a Friday night (maybe), or (most likely) they wanted to see us fail spectacularly, we packed the house like we were Daft Punk at Perry’s.

Oh yeah … with a few hundred kids in the room? It wasn’t even close to be being loud enough.

I remember we played “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn.” We played “Can’t Truss It.” We played the Violent Femmes’ “Add It Up” (the bright side of having no volume? No teacher was going to be able to actually hear the words “Why can’t I get just one fuck?”). Achtung Baby had just come out, so we played “Mysterious Ways.” We even played “Raining Blood.” I remember our friend Rav, who was a Sikh, taking his turban off and headbanging with his magnificent mane of never-ever-been-cut hair. He looked like Cliff Burton. It was glorious.

At one point, a couple of freshman chicks came up to our table. “Are you guys going play ANY dance music?”

“No. Get the fuck outta here.”

Near the end of the night, our buddy Scott Macke (the other guy in charge of planning the dance with us) walked up to Mr. Bell, who was working the door.

“So how did we do tonight?”

Legend has it Mr. Bell just looked at Scotty with a sly shit-eating grin and basically flashed him the Johnny Manziel “time ta gets paid” hand gesture.

Mr. Bell in the form of Johnny Football

Mr. Football channeling Mr. Bell

 

Except it wasn’t “time ta gets paid.” Oh no. No matter how sucky our sound system was, there would be no refunds. Mr. Bell and the NHS had gotten paid more in full than Eric B. and Rakim. And with no overhead to cover on the backside, it was all profit.

At the end of the night, what was the DJs’ bounty? Mr. Bell gave us each five bucks to go to Taco John’s and an impressed “good job, men.” Our little endeavor had paid off for the school better than that time Newman and Kramer got the free postal truck to haul empty cans and bottles to Michigan.

Um, where was I?

Oh yeah … “Crush.” We totally played “Crush” that night. I remember that song used to make a couple of the Galloping Weez-Less a little weak in the knees. So, to the Weasles – Erin, Kara, Devon, Buda, Tomhave, JT, Liz, Kim, Kath, Stace, Mindy, J-Hud, Nikki, and Graw, this is for you. Love comes in colours I can’t deny, bitches.

***

In the end, Todd got a few songs I coveted – “Obscured.” “Mayonaise.” “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans.” Same with Chris – “Starla.” “Soma.” Oh yeah, and “Suffer.” Sweet fucking “Suffer.” He knew it was my favorite since I had once chosen it to be used on a CD mix he compiled where mutual friends and co-workers each picked a single song to fill out the mix. It’s the one big one I feel I missed out on.

Dude, I never kicked your dog or puked in your car. There’s no need to get personal!

In all seriousness, the best part of this night was how, after it was all done and we were sipping on beers, we ended up sharing our “where were you were Kennedy was shot”-style stories with each other, except it was about a band. That entered our lives at the right time. That we all loved. Good stuff.

On my own personal long-running series of CD mixes (lovingly titled “Roof Music” after my college years of sitting on my friend Erin’s roof with a 12-pack, some smokes, and speakers hanging out the window), I’ve used something like 16 Pumpkins songs (I honestly can’t believe the total is that low). By my count, I got nine of them in this draft.

So yeah, I pretty much love this playlist. You will, too.

 

What song would you have taken #1? What song(s) should have made our lists? And is there a clear winner among the three playlists? Sound off in the comments, or have your say on our Facebook page. Or yell at us on Twitter.

The great Smashing Pumpkins fantasy draft: An introduction

 

Look who’s back in the news! All over it, in fact.

billy corgan holding cats

In the last couple of weeks, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan has announced that he’s working on not one but two albums of new material, including one with Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee laying down the drum tracks.

He’s supervising the remastering and re-releases of deluxe versions of the Pumpkins’ Adore and MACHINA/The Machines of God, the latter in its original intended form – remixed and resequenced along with the internet-only release MACHINA II/The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music to finally realize its destiny as a conceptual double album.

He’s had his AMC reality show about professional wrestling greenlit. Hopefully it will be as entertaining as his wrestling-themed furniture store commercial:

And then, in case you’ve already forgotten, there was this:

billy corgan holding cats

Any self-respecting MoSS? reader knows that the Smashing Pumpkins breathe rarified air around these parts. In their respective lists of the undisputed greatest albums of all time, the Pumpkins were everywhere, so there’s no reason for Todd or Chris to explain that again when they already did it here. And here and here. And here. Oh yeah, and here.

For the record, since my only role back then was as a loyal reader, my top 5 undisputed albums of all time include the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Slayer’s Reign in Blood and I’d probably round out the top 5 with Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. OK, that’s four.

See, I can do that because my No. 1 album of all time is Gish AND Siamese Dream. I can’t separate them. One day it’s Gish, the next day it’s Dream. But they are interchangeable to the point I stopped interchanging them years ago and count them as a single entity. But if Chris and Todd would have forced me to choose at gunpoint, I would have put them at 1 and 2 and bumped Zeppelin. That’s right … I’d bump Zeppelin. That’s how much I love those Pumpkins records.

Now, in all honesty, all three of us, at one point or another, have fallen in and out of love with this band. I remember the day I bought Adore and loaned it to Chris before I even had a chance to hear it myself. An hour later, I asked him what he thought and he looked at me like I’d just cupped a fart in my hand and stuck it in his face. And I’m sure I probably made that face myself after I first heard MACHINA.

Years later, the strength of the post-breakup lineup (and their fine 2012 album Oceania) has me excited for what’s on the horizon. But no matter what the future brings us, the strength of the Smashing Pumpkins’ early catalog – starting with 1991’s Gish through their 1995 magnum-opus double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – can always suck us back in.

Look at the finite catalog of, say, Zeppelin. Those first five records – I, II, III, IV and Houses of the Holy – are followed by a double album, Physical Graffiti. After Graffiti, the remaining catalog is really hit or miss. Some great tracks sprinkled around but the complete albums were not as strong. But those first albums and the double album? Near perfection (even with the liberal “borrowing” from the blues legends of the past).

Now … take Gish and Siamese Dream, the excellent rarities compilation Pisces Iscariot, the myriad remaining non-album tracks and B-sides from that era, and follow it with Mellon Collie … in the humble opinion of this Gen-X writer, you have a fair comparison. The later records have some excellent songs, for sure, but the complete albums don’t hold up like the first ones do.

Pumpkins 1993Let’s pretend the Pumpkins had died in a plane crash in mid-1995 (with Mellon Collie in the can but before it was released … hopefully, they’d have an Eddie Kramer-style overseer saying, “Hey, you know what? Let’s just release this as a kickass single disc instead,” which would have meant a second disc of material was still out there along with what would later become The Aeroplane Flies High box set of outtakes, ensuring years of Hendrix/Tupac-type posthumous releases). Leaving behind that above-mentioned songbook and recordings as their legacy, they might have been the greatest band of all time. At least in my book.

#####

So, with the Pumpkins on the brain, the three of us decided to have a little fantasy draft, with each guy trying to compile the ultimate playlist.

Fifteen songs each. But certain criteria had to be met. Each guy had to pick nine songs fulfilling these requirements:

  • A “Track 1” song
  • An album-closing song
  • A song that is at least 8 minutes long
  • A cover song
  • A James Iha song
  • A song featuring a girls’ name in the title
  • A Pisces Iscariot song
  • At least one Adore or MACHINA song
  • At least one song released after the original lineup’s breakup in 2000

Then, after those requirements were met, there were six wild-card slots. Fill them however you like.

We all missed out on songs we coveted. Then again, there were a few songs that weren’t even on the other guys’ radars when they were picked. But even so, if I had gotten the five or so songs I missed out on, I don’t know what I would have bumped to fit them in.

In the end, it was astonishing that all three of us walked away thinking we’d won the draft. And when we looked at what was left on the board, we agreed that had there been a fourth person, it would have gotten a little dicier since, guaranteed, there was no way we would’ve have ended up with the picks that we did.

So once we were done, we did an impromptu pick’em with the remaining songs for a hypothetical fourth man at the table. Here’s how that ended up:

  1. “1979”
  2. “Today”
  3. “Slunk”
  4. “Disarm”
  5. “Galapagos”
  6. “Blue”
  7. “Muzzle”
  8. “Geek U.S.A.”
  9. “Zero”
  10. “Thirty-Three”
  11. “Bodies”
  12. “For Martha”
  13. “Plume”
  14. “Tristessa”
  15. “By Starlight”

Notice something? Almost every single big radio and MTV staple the band put out was NOT chosen in the draft. And a few – such as “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” and “Perfect” – didn’t even make this “best of the rest” top 15 list. A stronger, deeper catalog than one might remember, eh?

All three of our drafts are tip-top. You can’t lose.

But still, I don’t think there’s any question that when you get a chance to analyze the results, you’ll agree that I won. Handily. And I’ll take the fuckin’ Pepsi Challenge with either of these clowns to prove it. Bring it on.

Come back to Music or Space Shuttle? on Monday, June 2, for the playlists and self-analysis of the draft. What song would you have taken #1? What song(s) in the “best of the rest” list above should have made one of our playlists? Sound off in the comments, or have your say on our Facebook page. Or yell at us on Twitter.