Artist – Smashing Pumpkins (originally by Fleetwood Mac)
Album – Pisces Iscariot
Year – 1994
Genre – Alternative/Acoustic
If I think a cover surpasses an original, I will never hesitate to come right out and say it. I firmly believe in “to each their own”, but I personally would argue that the Smashing Pumpkins’ cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Lanslide” is better in almost every way. It’s simpler, cleaner, and more emotionally poignant than the original. Billy Corgan’s rawness, honesty, and uncanny ability to pour so much feeling into each word of this song speaks volumes, and I think it depicts the true pain and sadness of the song’s lyrics with much more clarity. It’s haunting to say the least.
There are really only two parts to the song: guitar and vocals, and each deserves their own analysis. The guitar in this song will give you chills. The strings ring out so clear and echo through your ears with beautiful tone. If you’ve heard the song before, you know how wonderful the repeated melody is. You never get tired of hearing it because it’s so beautiful. There’s really not much variation until Corgan decides to play a wonderful solo halfway through the song. It has a very classical guitar vibe to it, and although it’s simple, it’s just relaxing and calming. It keeps you in a peaceful state of mind.
I will say this now so people don’t get mad at me, which they probably already are for saying I like this cover more than the original; Billy Corgan’s voice is not for everyone. Yes I know it sounds nasally, but chances are if you listen to the Smashing Pumpkins at all, you’re OK with this. To me, the very imperfection of his voice shows just how willing he is to put himself on the line with this cover. His breathy vocals showcase every nuance of the melancholy and reflection that the song puts forth. You can’t help but wonder how much this song means to Corgan as he sings each word with a pain that only he can truly know, but we can feel.
You probably know all the words to this song, but they are still beautiful after all this time. You can’t but get emotional when you hear lines like this, regardless of who they’re coming from:
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
It’s just a beautiful, beautiful song about finding your way in life and dealing with all the changes, good and bad, that life has in store. It’s a timeless classic, and everyone can relate to the lyrics of a song like this.
I will say this cover is not for everyone. But to those who find the beauty in Corgan’s interpretation, you certainly won’t forget it anytime soon. It captures the essence of everything this song was written about, it just comes from a different voice.
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