A Song for a Son

Album: Teargarden by Kaleidyscope (2009)
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Songfacts®:

  • This Rock epic is the first song to be released from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, a 44-song concept album released for free over the Internet by Smashing Pumpkins, one song at a time. It was made available for online streaming on December 7, 2009. The song was also included on the first of 11 EPs each containing four tracks. Frontman Billy Corgan explained to Rolling Stone: "I thought it would emphasize that each song is really important to me, and also try to get myself up to the speed of a world that is absolutely devouring information." He added that he wasn't inspired by any similar approaches, like Radiohead's move to put out singles and one album online. "I want no limitations on what I can, and will do," he said. "I think the size and shape of the traditional album is just morphing into something much more in the moment. Four songs at a time will mean I can give my heart over to the music fully without giving away my now happy life."
  • Pumpkins fans may already have come across the song during the band's anniversary tour in 2008, where it was performed in an earlier form. The final version is far different from its live incarnation with several different movements and some huge guitar solos. Corgan told MTV News: "[The tour version] sounded like a very straight-ahead version of it. It was like a bar band playing it." He added:. "I got back into the guitar after playing a few shows with Dave Navarro. I can't beat [his] abs, so the only way I can compete is with guitar solos."
  • Corgan told AOL's Spinner.com that lyrically the six-minute tune is a reflection on not having had any children: "I think it's got something to do about not having any kids and thinking about why I don't have any kids. And then also kind of thinking about my relationship with my father - there's some kind of connection there, but it's not overt. I didn't set out to write that, it just rolled out of me."
  • Corgan explained in publicity materials that the story of Teargarden by Kaleidyscope is based on The Fool's Journey, as signified in the progress of the Tarot. He said: "It is my intention to approach this by breaking down the journey of our life here into four phases as made by these different characters; the Child, the Fool, the Skeptic, and the Mystic."
  • The tarot is a pack of playing cards of Italian origin that dates to the mid fifteenth century. From the late 18th century they also been used by mystics and occultists for fortune telling. The Fool's Journey is the name of a modern interpretation created during the 1960s of the 22 cards that comprise the trump suit and the Fool of the Tarot.
  • Corgan described this song to MTV News as "a folk song." He added that the tune's basic structure forced him to explore and expand with two huge guitar solos and some dynamic shifts: "A lot of the songs I write have a lot of chord changes, which opens them up to a lot of interpretation," he said. "Whenever you do a song like that, a Bob Dylan type of song, you have to keep it interesting. And my harmonica playing isn't very good."

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