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Route 66 News

Billy Corgan’s smashing road trip

Billy Corgan in Montoya

Billy Corgan, lead singer and songwriter for the rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, recently finished a three-week road trip for a film documentary that included sections of Route 66.

Corgan announced the trip on his blog earlier this month. He casually mentioned Route 66 in it, but with few specifics. Given the broad purpose of his trip, it wasn’t certain he was going to travel the Mother Road at all.

A series of videos Corgan posted during his journey showed he did travel Route 66, from Missouri to at least Arizona.

A few observations from those videos:

— Corgan was writing songs almost daily on the road. He said many would show up on a new Smashing Pumpkins album, and he mentioned in a video Thursday that others’ reactions to the new tunes were positive.

— He’s considering a four- to five-night stand at the historic Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, with many of the songs performed in an acoustic setting.

— He asked in a video who coined the term “Mother Road” and guessed it might have been Jack Kerouac. (Answer: It was John Steinbeck in his novel “The Grapes of Wrath.”)

— Corgan filmed Facebook videos in the Route 66 cities of Tulsa, Elk City, Oklahoma; near Gallup, New Mexico; and Montoya, New Mexico, the latter at the ruins of a long-closed store there that offered “COLD BEER.”

— He shot footage and conducted interviews in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. He mentioned possible shoots in Kansas and California, but those haven’t been confirmed.

— He said his documentary aims to “tap into the American spirit and what’s left of it.” He mentioned Oklahoma “reminds me of the America I grew up in.” He said the footage during his trip will become a pilot episode that has received interest from several television networks for a possible series.

— Corgan seemed relaxed and genial during the videos he shot, which is remarkable given his reputation for being prickly. He said he’s been “in a good place” for the past four to five years, and it shows.

The Smashing Pumpkins is best known for its hit singles and albums during the 1990s and has sold more than 20 million albums in the U.S. alone.

(Screen capture of Billy Corgan in Montoya, New Mexico)

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