Album: Siamese Dream (1993)
Charted: 11
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • The song's author and lead singer Billy Corgan was quoted in an interview about "Disarm" as saying, "I never really had the guts to kill my parents, so I wrote a song about it instead." When he wrote this song, he was at a point where he was really angry at his parents for always making him feel lower than he really was.
  • The album climbed to #10 on the Billboard charts based on radio friendly songs like this, "Today," and "Cherub Rock."
  • This single did well on Modern Rock charts, but Smashing Pumpkins didn't really hit the mainstream until their album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, released in 1995.
  • The video for this song was shot in crisp black and white, and was a very serious and artistic video. This was in sharp contrast to the video for "Today" which featured a lot of color and a group of kids just having fun.
  • Corgan has described this song as being "about my childhood and how I turned into an a--hole."
  • This was the third single off Siamese Dream after "Cherub Rock" and "Today." It was one of the most played songs on the radio in 1994.
  • One interpretation for these lyrics is that they are about abortion. With that interpretation, the singer and his girlfriend are making the decision to kill their unborn child. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Paul - Westlake, OH
  • The band played a heavy electric version at the MTV Music Video Awards in 1994.
  • This was covered by the alternative folk band, The Civil Wars, for their eponymous second album. The Civil Wars comprise Joy Williams and John Paul White and it was Williams' husband, Nate Yetto, who suggested they record a version. The duo worked it out the same day that they wrote "Oh Henry" in the mountains of Salt Lake City during the Sundance Festival.
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Comments: 38

  • Judy from Florida Abuse of any kind is harmful and especially as a child. We push it down and act like it doesn’t matter in order to survive. But, no matter how much you push it down and act like everything is ok...it still comes out to haunt you later in life when you have to choose who you want to be.. that’s what the song means to me.
  • Ben from Perth, Western AustraliaOK. So here it goes, this is my interpretation of Smashing Pumpkins - "Disarm". The song is fundamentally about how the
    type of childhood we have when we are very young, also determines who we turn into as we become adults. Billy, like myself obviously had a sad childhood, I can't speak for him, but long story short my abusive father died when I was only five and then I got an even worse step-father when I was seven.

    The line "there a killer in me and a killer in you" explains that we cannot choose our parents, and like with serial killers who
    have kids and grow up in a similar environment, those kids also display "serial-killer" behaviour, and in some rare cases can
    actually turn into serial killers themselves. What people have to understand is that you are your parents offspring, and that can determine who you become later in life.

    The line "ooh the years burn" means that the depression he encountered at a young age multiplies with each passing year. Its too hard for a kid growing up the depression they don't know or refuse sub-consciously to wrestle with (its all too much).

    At start of the song he says "Disarm you with a smile, And cut you like you want me to, Cut that little child
    Inside of me and such a part of you". This line says that he has learnt to survive by shrugging all of his depression off, if you "smile" at someone it generally puts the person you are smiling at, at ease. The next few lines I take to be related to his parents who have wronged him when he was young, whether it be abuse or bad parenting etc...his "smile" cuts his parents soul. The last line sums up what he is trying to express, he is a tortured child, but he is also his parents child, and they where also once children as well, who also may have had a bad childhood... and are doing the same thing to their own child.

    The line "I used to be a little boy, so old in my shoes" means that he was forced to grow up quickly in order to understand his childhood. Even though he was a little boy, he had become wise beyond his years trying to deal with the pain of his childhood.

    "What I choose is my choice, whats a boy supposed to do" means he is still is only a child and doesn't have any other life experiences other than his family life. So long story short he just has to get on with his life the best way that he knows how.

    "Send a smile over to you" has two meanings in my opinion, he smiles at his parents and that cuts into them because they know they have damaged him (ie. screwed up his childhood), or he wants to his parents to know that he can take it, and he will be able to smile, with whatever life throws at him, also he may understand that he wants to show his parents that he is happy, which will put them at ease and make life more peaceful.

    The next few lines "Disarm you with a smile, And leave you like they left me here, To wither in denial, The bitterness of one who's left alone" I take to mean that his parents never helped him or explained his depressing childhood to him because they may have felt it was a too much of a touchy subject for a young boy to comprehend. He is left to his own devices in order to survive, he has to deny what has happened to him, which is painful, and he becomes a bitter child, not able to experience fun or happy moments properly. So, he "Disarms" them with a smile, makes them feel bad because of what he is left to deal with as a lonely child.

    Anyway, this is my long interpretation of the song, and yes I don't think it has anything directly related to abortion in it. However, it is art and it is open for interpretation, so you can make of it what you will. Just know that I have had the same CD as when it was released, to this date, so I have listened to it a lot of times.

    Thanks for letting me vents guys.

    Cheers, Ben Lopas. c",)

  • Al from UsaThis song is OBVIOUSLY about drug and alcohol addiction. "The killer in me, is the killer in you." Billy's mom was a hardcore alcoholic supposedly and do is he supposedly.
  • Gus from AustraliaWhat is it with yanks that every other song is interpreted to be about religion or abortion! Good grief.
  • Gaz from Hackensack, NjWhether the song is about abortion, breaking up, mass murder or hating your parents it's the way the lyrics are so brilliantly complimented by the music that really grabs your heart.
  • Gaz from Hackensack, Nj Hope you found this site Billy C. If I'd wrote this song I'd no doubt laugh at the interpretations that are light years away from the original meaning. But that's the beauty of music. We can create our own meaning and enter that place that is seen only by our mind's eye. The image that I created when I first heard disarm is of a bitter serial killer who enjoys cutting up little children and is suffering the burning years of a lifetime in prison. (Hee hee hee... my whacky idea might be the funniest yet). But when I
  • Chris from Saugus, MaI do believe that Billy Corgan's parents abusing him is relevant. I believe this song is about social isolation. The dark orchestral arrangements give it a touch of alienation. Also in the lyrics the verse : "Disarm you with a smile and leave you like they left me here to wither in denial the bitterness of one who's left alone, the years burn " Somebody who has been isolated can relate to that. For some resaon this reminds me of a cold, cloudy autumn day walking alone in the woods in New England. Very beautiful stuff.

  • Mark from Elkridge, MdGary from Somewhere is correct. Also - "the killer in you is the killer in me" simply means, to parents, we are the same.
  • Susan from Aiken, Sc"the killer in me is the killer in you" means his parents killed his spirit, his happiness, his childhood and the parents abusive actions caused him to want to strike back at them..to kill them..

    "Cut me like you want me to, cut that little child" He even thinks of hurting himself, just like the parents hurt him, he has learned to hurt himself...

    But instead of hurting himself or his parents he disarms them with a smile...and this hauntingly beautiful song.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnThis is a perfect song. Heard it when I was 12 and still think this is the most haunting ballad ever!
  • Matt from Houston, TxVery deep.I mean let's be honest this is lyrical perfection at it's best.A lot of people want to hurt their parents in one way or another,directly or indirectly.The hard part is the repricussions you have to pay.
  • Amber from Edmonton, Aball though i believe that the beauty of music is the ability for open interpretation and relation for everyone, this song actually is about his childhood. the lyrics have multiple references to his childhood; being left behind, growing up too fast, and making his own choices. such a sad and beautiful song <3
  • Mike from Parts Unknown, NjMy interpretation of the song was basically his parents trying to "kill" who his true self, turn him into something hes not and conform him into what they want him to be. Him possibly sending over a fake smile his way of saving himself in order to keep himself. This may not be the meaning behind the song but it is how I interpret it due to the fact that I can very much relate with it, my parents are very loving but it is almost impossible for a parent to completely accept my "uniqueness", but to a moe extreme degree it also relates to a drug problem I once had and the psychogical impact it had on me, I felt as though the person living inside of me I had known for so long was fading away. Basically I beleive there can be more then one interpretation to just about any song.
    This is my favorite song.
  • Myra from Chicago, IlIf this song is about Corgan's disabled brother, how do you explain the lyrics "a killer in me is a killer in you"? Just tell me that.
  • Myra from Chicago, IlThis is a sad song, and to me it seems as if Billy Corgan is trying to communicate about his painful childhood.
  • Emma from Casterton, AustraliaThis is my absolute favorite song in the world! i cant explain my love for it... but reading what its about, its pretty sad!
  • Andrew from Los Angeles, CaA sound unlike any other.
  • Mike from Downey, Cain one of the lines, what does he say

    "oh ho the years burn" or "oh ho he's burned"

    cuz i cant tell what he says at all
  • Derek from Chandler, Azin actuallity, billy corgan origionally wanted to write a hateful and angry song to hurt his parents when he got famous, he wrote this instead because when he got famous he said to himself "i want to write something beautiful to tell them how much they hurt me, because writing something hurtful shows that im not a better person" and he wrote disarm.
  • Miasha from Oklahoma City, OkThis song is not About Abortion
    like hell no
    its about His Childhood and him wanting to hurt his parents for being mean to him
  • Brandon from Sterling, Vai definately w/ the unloved child theme b/c he says inside of me and such a part of you meaning that his childhood affected him deeply and ooo, the years burn, how it is painfull just to think of his past
  • Gary from Somewhere, Mnthis song isnt about abortion it is just about childhood and dreaming of being able to fly, billy corgan says this in one of the smashing pumpkins videos i have
  • Dena from Nowhere To Be, NjIt irritates me at some of the absurdly awful "interpretations" I'm reading. This song, I feel, has nothing to do with Billy's brother Jesse--you're confusing Disarm with Spaceboy. If you are familiar with Billy's childhood, it makes it easier to understand this song. He had multiple issues with his father and step-mother, as both of them were abusive in a number of ways. Because of this abuse, Billy felt he was "so old in his shoes", as he had seen more than a child should have. He had to smile and shut up, else he'd be repromanded and beaten. He had gone to live with his grandmother for a while (leave you like they left me here, to wither in denial, the bitterness of one who's left alone), until he ended up back with his father. All of the moving around and misplaced emotions and blah blah blah are what this song is about.
  • Bobo from Bruxells, BelgiumOkÃ? guys you're simply wrong

    Billy Corgan has a brother who is mentally handicapped. The song is about him - so in the song he tries to describe the feelings of his brother.

    cheers
  • Yolanda Morphinite from Bountiful , UtThis song just touches you right down to your very soul. The arrangement the lyrics are equally beautiful.
  • Victoria from Gaithersburg, MdAndrew's right--this song isn't about abortion. If you've ever had parents that put you down and make you feel like you are useless--then you would know what Billy's singing about. "Disarm you with a smile"--giving them something like a smile "disarms" them and makes them temporarily think he's being a good kid.
  • Dan from Sydney, AustraliaListen to this after breaking up and you will be 10 times sadder
  • Jim from Glenolden, PaHe wants to kill his parents because he is mad. Cut that little child is a metafor for abuse either vocal or physical. This is his lash back.
  • Andrew from Pullman, WaThis song is NOT about abortion!


    Listen to the lyrics

    Cut that little child
    Inside of me and such a part of you
    (he doesnt mean kill the unborn child in me. he's talking about the child in him like his spirit and the line 'its such a part of you' is because its the parents kid)


    The killer in me is the killer in you
    My love
    (The boy wanted to kill his parents and by the saying the killer in me is the killer in you has to do with how the parents killed his spirit and made him hate himself. And 'my love' is becuse he still loved them anyway and he was in denial about what they were doing)

    Disarm you with a smile
    And leave you like they left me here
    To wither in denial
    (He wanted to pretend it wasn't happening so he acted like he was happy to fool everyone around him)


    I used to be a little boy
    So old in my shoes
    (becuse no one whould let him be a kid they and they ruined his childhood so he forced himself to grow up and move on in life)
  • Derek from Qld, AustraliaTeenage angst and confusion. Simple as that in my mind.
  • Johnny from Roseville, CaI think i agree with the part about him feeling lower than he actually was. I dunno I like that thought better than abortian...but I could be wrong...then again I can interupt the lyrics by my idea so my guess is as good as everyones...except for the band.
  • Steven from Ogden, UtYeah, i think this song has to be about abortion. How about this lyric:

    "Cut that little child. Inside of me and such a part of you"

    Sounds to me like a woman referring to her unborn child, who is 'such a part' of the man.

    That's how they do it. They cut the child out limb by limb. So sad, when there are so many alternatives to death.

    A very beautiful song that helped me to be courageous and except my responsibility as an accidental father. No doubt in my mind, I would have 'whithered in denial' by becoming a killer.

    Thank you, Pumpkins. My child and I owe you one. Us fans miss you! Please make more music!
  • Marvin from East Brady, PaNever thought so much about this until now: the line "the killer in me is the killer in you" seems to say everyone has the same capacity to kill; the better person is the one who can "send a smile" to their enemy rather than give in to their desire (and ability) to kill.
  • Dennis from Toledo, OhThe picture of an upset child facing a house in the CD booklet says it all...
  • Scott from Cape Cod, Masend a smile over to you, the killer in me is the killer in you, my love....the song is about about a child growing up unloved, and affected by it
  • Jeff from West Chester, PaThis is a beautiful song. I love the use of the cello and all the orchestra instruments. Corgan takes a very simple chord progression and turns it into this massive and epic song with complicated embellishments weaving through the entire structure of the song. My favorite part is the cello during the last chorus, it sounds so beautiful in rhythmic synchronization with Corgan's voice.
  • Katie from Prince George, Canadaand beautiful it is. the last lines of the song reflect his anger but also show he can fight off that anger with 'love'
  • Marvin from East Brady, PaCorgan also said he couldn't write anything angry so he'd write something beautiful instead...so he says in the first line "disarm you with a smile," in that he is gonna fight fire with water...
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