One of the greatest albums of the 1990s is Smashing Pumpkin’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and if you disagree, feel free to send me an email at A two disc spectacular of sun and moon, raging drums and guitar chords interspersed with melancholy/mellon collie melodies.  My Discman played this album on repeat during my adolescence.

I realized for the first time today that I have misheard the opening lyrics to “Tonight, Tonight” for the past twenty years.  Or maybe I have always heard them the way I wanted to in my mind.

Here’s my version:

Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave
Without leaving a piece of you

The legit version:

Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave
Without leaving a piece of youth

I looked up the Wikipedia page about Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and this struck me:

However, Billy Corgan has also said that the album is based on “the human condition of mortal sorrow”. Corgan aimed the album’s message at people aged 14 to 24 years, hoping “to sum up all the things I felt as a youth but was never able to voice articulately.” He summed up by stating, “I’m waving goodbye to me in the rear view mirror, tying a knot around my youth and putting it under the bed.”

(Sidenote: I am not doing a deep dive on this research.  If you really care to, go to the Wikipedia page and look up the sources).

As someone who has suffered from chronic depression and anxiety since youth, I now realize why this music is so special to me.  I have always been able to tap into “the human condition of mortal sorrow” and usually have either felt it so acutely that living was painful, or have tried to entirely avoid it.  As I now approach middle-aged existence, I have found a way to sit with it. 

Still, shit happens.  To quote language I learned at my last job, a “prompting event” occurs and the pain emerges.

A brilliant author and activist that I follow on Instagram recently shared a meme that said: “If an employer ever says ‘We’re like a family here’, what they mean is they’re going to ruin you psychologically”.

I would amend that to say that if an employer treats employees like family or attempts to create a “tribe” atmosphere, you’re as good as ruined when it comes time for you to part ways.

The thing is that it works when it is working (and even that’s debatable).  Think about it for a minute…families are inherently full of dysfunction and odd dynamics.  We also should acknowledge that each family has their favorites – the untouchables.  Others may be disproportionately discriminated against or punished for a plethora of reasons.

The point remains that although in theory it is a lovely concept, it is actually a terrible idea to enact.

Some families are really fucked up.  Some people have entirely lost their families and are extremely vulnerable.  A surrogate family sounds like a dream, but only until the dream ends.  Or the family breaks down.  Or someone is banished.

What exactly does this have to do with “Tonight, Tonight” and the lyrics I heard? 

You can never ever leave

Without leaving a piece of you

At this point, I’ve got pieces all over the place.  If you happen to find one, would you be so kind as to return it to me?

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