Billy Corgan Was Surprised By Reaction To Eddie Vedder’s Political Views

During a recent VIP fan Q&A for The Smashing Pumpkins’ In Plainsong tour, Billy Corgan discussed Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and Bruce Springsteen taking part in the Vote for Change tour in 2004. The tour was held in swing states and was designed to encourage people to register and vote. Though the tour and the organization were officially non-partisan, many of the performers urged people to vote against then President George W. Bush and for John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election campaign.

“Springsteen was on it, Eddie Vedder was on it, does anyone remember what I’m talking about? It was about 2004.”

“I saw something in the Chicago-Sun Times, where they had printed letters in response to the review of the show.”

He added, “Jim [DeRogatis] wrote a review of the show, and in the [review] he printed some of the things that they were saying. I was very surprised by the letters that I was reading that they printed. They obviously got so much mail, or e-mail, that they decided to do a two page spread of people’s letters. There was a lot of stuff, and a lot of the comments were, and I’m paraphrasing, were: ‘Artists should just entertain, and shut the fuck up.’ I’m a 60’s baby right, I grew up Neil Young ‘Four Dead In Ohio,’ ‘For What It’s Worth,’ songs that defined, and still define, a particular era.”

“So when I ran into Jim, I said I was really surprised by that, that there was so much antipathy towards the artists for speaking up for something that they believe in. He said it was the most mail he had ever received on anything he had ever done. I said, ‘What was the ratio of for and against?’ Because generally speaking, Chicago tends to lean liberal, Democratic president, mayors. Pretty obvious with the culture there, blue state. He said 3 to 1, 75% of what he got was ‘shut the fuck up, just be entertainers.’ At the time I was like, wow, that’s really weird. So when I look now, 10 or 11 years later, you can see it’s a general thing now: ‘Shut the fuck up.’ The defining point I’m trying to make is: what is an artist for?”

Corgan recently told Fox News that he is a libertarian. Corgan then talked about the idea of artists being viewed as more of an entertainer due to the desires of the crowd. “But you have to look at the general culture which drives the bigger conversation, which is most of the people that walk through these doors, they’re greatest hits. To them, [The Smashing Pumpkins] is no more important, or no less important, than 7 or 8 other 90’s bands. And you’d be surprised at the bands that you think you’re on the same level as. I’m not talking about the big ones, I’m talking about ones where you go: ‘Really?’ Because to them, it’s the soundtrack of their life stuff.”

  • Chris

    The problem is politicans and the media seeking to delegitimise the opinions of anybody who isn’t them.

    There’s been a long campaign against anybody who may have a chance of actually reaching the people with their own message, the electorate has been programmed with cynicism, and told to reject any opinion out of hand that isn’t passed down by approved sources.

    • Poltergeist

      Yep! Brainwashed by reality TV all in the name of a commercially subliminal obedient mind bot society! With this celebrity glorified culture, I wouldn’t be half shocked if Trump gets elected!

  • Jesusswept

    Shut the fuck up and play some music Billy.

    • God

      But not off the new albums cause they suck

  • luciferjonez

    Can someone please put billy corgan and scott weiland on a boat out to sea and sink it already?

  • Francisco D’Anconia

    Times haven’t changed but the ability for people to respond sure has. If email existed in the 60’s you would have just as many fans writing in to say “shut the f up”. What guys like Billy forget is that free speech is a two-way street. Eddie and Bruce can express any political view they want but so can the fan. Artists aren’t the only one with a microphone any more.

    • — J —

      You don’t know what free speech is. Please read about it sometime. It’s embarrassing when people claim it exists, but have no idea what it means.

      • Poltergeist

        Nope, free speech doesn’t exist anymore, it has been outlawed…by people with $$$$. Convenient rear kissing continuous praise speech intended to worship officials and d-list celebs with money is the only form of “free” speech we have left!

        • — J —

          You don’t know what “Freedom of speech” means either. Please read about it sometime. It’s embarrassing when people have no idea what it means.

          • Boom

            Explain to Boom what it mean.

          • ITURBIDE

            Freedom of speech only prevents the government from restricting speech. If a network, a newspaper, a website or a bald rockstar doesn’t agree with your points of view in the platforms they give to you, they are under no obligation to let you keep that platforms if they don’t like what you’re saying.

          • Boom

            You speak of platforms. You meaning plAtform shoe or the subway platform.

          • Thelonious Funk

            How about I explain the striking similarities between Boom/Shane99 and a rectal cavity instead

          • Boom

            Boom all ears. Compare away. King Troller Funk.

          • Thelonious Funk

            Well, for starters, the things you post and the stuff that comes out of my ass bear striking similarities to one another

            And sometimes I read your posts and I feel like a gerbil being smothered in Richard Gear’s asshole, so there’s that too

          • Rafa Gee

            Explain to us what it means oh great one.

          • — J —

            It prevents the government from restricting free speech. That’s it.

            It offers no protection from public opinion, and private entities and businesses have every right to determine what occurs on their time and on their dime. If you call your boss a faggot, he can fire your ass.

            So stop it with the “Freedom of speech!” bullshit when you want to be able to voice your opinion. You’re allowed. No one is stopping you. Idiot.

          • Poltergeist

            It’s even more embarrassing when people have no idea what humor and sarcasm mean.

  • Thelonious Funk

    In other news, Better Man is easily one of the most overrated rock songs of the 90s

    • Corndog

      Great song. You shut your dirty mouth, funky!!


      • Thelonious Funk

        Bleh. Just tired of hearing it on the radio every hour. I was never really high on it to begin with, even though Vitalogy might be my favorite PJ album.

        Corduroy…I *never* get tired of that one, no matter how much its played.

        • Corndog

          I guess we all have songs like that. If I never hear Jeremy again it’ll be too soon.

          • Thelonious Funk

            Jeremy is dangerously overplayed as well, but still a good song. I rarely if ever hear anything from Yield played on the radio and that’s unfortunate. Such an underrated album, that one..

          • Corndog

            I don’t think i have heard Pearl Jam on local radio where i live since the mid 90’s, and i have never heard anything from Yield. Radio stations just don’t play that kind of thing here and on the absolute outside chance that the stars align and someone did, it would be Alive, Even Flow or Jeremy. The only rock that they will play here is whatever safe, sanitised rock the ‘cool, popular kids’ say it’s ok to listen to at a particular time, such as the Foo Fighters at the moment.

  • God

    Billy Corgan: Shut the Fuck Up!!

  • Miff Tuck

    To any of the older fans here, out of interest, was there this sort of reluctance to accept political views of musicians in the primes of people like Bob Dylan and Neil Young? Granted without the internet it wouldn’t be so obvious, but was there a more general opinion that it wasn’t their place to comment?
    It seems concerning that so many people these days tend to avoid political discussion or thought at any cost, and want to be able to just use art in any form purely as escapism.