This reflects the mood of lead singer Billy Corgan, who was very depressed when he wrote it. Corgan was in therapy, suffering from writer's block, and struggling with expectations that Smashing Pumpkins would be the next Nirvana.
With the lyric, "today is the greatest day," some listeners misinterpreted this as a hopeful song, when it was just the opposite. Billy Corgan said: "I was really suicidal. I just thought it was funny to write a song that said today is the greatest day of your life because it can't get any worse."
Corgan played almost all the instruments on this track, partly because he was a control freak and partly because drummer Jimmy Chamberlain was unreliable due to drug problems.
The record company put a lot of pressure on the band to complete the Siamese Dream album, which put Corgan in a tough spot because he was having trouble writing songs. "Today" came to him pretty quickly and his demo appeased the record company because they thought it would be a hit.
Corgan never thought much of this song. He considered it a light pop song, even though many listeners thought it was quite meaningful.
In America, this wasn't released as a single, since Virgin Records wanted fans to buy the album, not just the one song. It was issued to radio stations as a promotional single, where it got significant airplay alongside heavy rotation on MTV. Smashing Pumpkins were still considered a "college radio" band at the time, but this song reached a wider audience and set the stage for their breakout album Mellon Collie and the
Infinite Sadness, released in 1995.
Billboard's rules (amended in 1996) stated that any song not for sale as a single was not eligible for the Hot 100, so this song never appeared on that chart. It did show up at #69 on the Airplay chart, however, a reflection of the band becoming radio-friendly for the first time. Their singles "Disarm" (#48) and "Landslide" (#30) also made that chart.
The video was directed by Stéphane Sednaoui, a French photographer who directed some very vibrant videos for Red Hot Chili Peppers ("Give It Away
"), Garbage ("Queer
") and U2 ("Mysterious Ways
In the "Today" video, Billy Corgan plays the role of a guy who takes an ice cream van into the desert (on his uniform, his name is spelled "Billie"). Part of it was shot at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, California in a homage to the 1970 film Zabriskie Point
Corgan says he remembers a time when he was younger and the local ice cream man decided that today would be the day that he quit, so he drove around the neighborhood giving free ice cream to all the kids. At the start of the video this is echoed when Billy's character gives smiling children free treats, then drives off on his wild ride.
Matthew - Santa Barbara, CA
The album was produced by Butch Vig
, who worked with Nirvana and was one of the first to use Pro Tools software to record and mix directly into a computer. He is also the drummer for Garbage.
Smashing Pumpkins performed this on Saturday Night Live
on October 30, 1993.
John - Colorado Springs, CO