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Billy Corgan Loves an Old-Fashioned American Story

Corgan discussed finding comfort in daily routine and relics of former eras in a phone interview from his home. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.


What I love about antique malls is you still get a sense of regional America. But you also get a sense of the America that was. It’s a really beautiful back window into the American psyche. I bought a Lillian Gish book once, and I got it home and realized it was autographed. Or you find these weird, mass-produced Art Nouveau statues that would have been sold at the dime store. My house is populated with this bric-a-brac.


If you’ve ever watched the movie “42nd Street,” Ruby’s the star of the movie, and it’s literally her story. She was a buck-and-wing dancer in New York. She gained prominence as a teen dancer, was in some big, Ziegfeld-type shows, went to Hollywood and became a huge movie star. And within about 10 years, she was pretty much out of the movie business, went on to have a family, and was at one point famously married to Al Jolson. It’s an amazing, only-in-America story. I’m obsessed with Ruby Keeler — she’s, like, the perfect ingénue.


Another incredible American success story. At one point, Creedence Clearwater Revival was bigger than the Beatles. And then, famously, through bad contracts, John Fogerty lost all of his songs. My understanding is, in the ’70s when he would play live, he wouldn’t play the songs because he didn’t own them anymore. And just recently, he got his catalog back after 50-something years. I emailed him and his wife, Julie, just to say, “Man, this is so amazing,” and got a nice response back. You want to talk about one of those, like, Jimmy Stewart movies? Guy makes good, loses it all, and at the end of the day, gets it all back.


They’re a no-kill shelter, and they really are committed to making sure that every pet finds a home. I think I’ve got about four pets from PAWS in my home at the moment. The most recent one is a French bulldog, Colette, whose mother was found lying in an alley, dying, trying to give birth. Out of that beautiful story, we have a little dog peeing in the corner everywhere.

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