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.”