Rolling Stone magazine best sums up ‘1979’ as “a mid tempo tune that looks back on the aimless fun of adolescene with a touch of melancholy and longing.”It is a song that still stands the test of time, no matter what generation of youth choose to listen to it. Though, I don’t think you have to be young to appreciate its sentiment. I often find myself nowadays cranking up the volume on 1979, simply because it is a beautiful song. And so while I’m thinking about it, that hypnotic rollercoaster of chord changes (on guitar) and the effortless drumbeat, always seems to set my mood, in recalling the vivid memories of my youth, that helped me become the person that I am today.

Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan chose 1979 for the title, not necessarily to represent a time of youth in the late seventies, but because it sounded good in a rhyme scheme. Corgan also confesses that 1979 was a year as good as any other.

Like all good songwriters, Corban captures the essence of life as a teen. He reflects upon his own experiences, but also highlights some of the typical feelings associated around insecurity, unease and longing of youth. We are reminded also that as young people, we often feel that living in the moment will never end, only to discover that all good things sometimes do come to an end.

The song almost didn’t make the album ‘Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness’ because co- producer Mark “Flood” Ellis thought that 1979 wasn’t good enough. He was ready to drop it, when Billy Corgan feverishly wrote the entire song, in about four hour period, the night before the album was set to be finialised. Upon hearing it the following day, Flood had a change of heart and immediately added it to the album.

The song would go on to become a successful single, peaking at no. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996. Today, it stands as one of the great songs of the nineties , and easily in anyone’s top 5 list of Smashing Pumpkin songs.

Photo Credit: The image of Billy Corgan is used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license. I am not the uploader of the You Tube clip.

Posted by Robert Horvat

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.


  1. This one has really grown on me over the years; though I didn’t really pay much attention to it in 1995. I can get why the producer wanted to leave it off the album – because Meloncollie is populated by so many big, epic or expansive songs, and ‘1979’ by comparison is fairly low-key and standard. But after you listen to the album numerous times you start to notice this track more and more and realise how cool it is.


  2. My 15yo nephew recently told me his story about this song. He first heard it on the radio while returning home from a family vacation. Didn’t know who or what about the song and never heard it again. Fast-forward to early last month while on his first date with his new girlfriend – hanging out listening to music on her phone. 1979 plays and he freaks. “What is this song? Who is this?” “It’s 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins”, she replies. “Oh my god! You’re not gonna believe this………”

    And memories are made because of a really great song. Enjoyed this reflection and the bit of synchronicity.


    1. Wonderful story. That’s the great thing about music, it allows us to escape and reminisce.


      1. Forgot to include that my nephew was only 10 when he first heard the song. Stuck with him for 5 years. That’s what great songs do.

  3. Love this song Robert, this reminds me of my youth too. Also Bjork and Alanis too…lots of memories 😄


  4. Thank you for this wonderful dissection of a wonderful song


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