According to Wikipedia, this song was a minor alternative hit in 1992, peaking at #24 on the alternative radio charts, but in 1992, pre-Siamese Dream, I'm not sure I knew of the band. Although I would come to love Gish probably more than their chart-topping mainstream success that was Siamese Dream, I'm almost positive I didn't own it until after 1993, when I became, briefly, a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan. It didn't last very long -- I convinced myself I liked the bloated double album Mellon Collie but they definitely lost me with 1998's Adore to the point that I don't really listen to them anymore, not even the old tracks on Gish or Pisces Iscariot that I used to listen to rather nonstop in 1994. Which brings me to "Drown". Back in pre-Internet days, we discovered music largely through something called the "radio", and I remember hearing "Drown" on the radio, it had to be after Siamese Dream because otherwise I wouldn't have really known the band, and I know I hit "record" on the cassette tape I used to have on my stereo cued up so I could tape any song on the radio I hadn't heard but might like. I know it sounds primitive now, but that's how we discovered new songs, and that's how we played music, particularly when we were younger and didn't have any cash to buy CDs. And I distinctly remember having "Drown" on a mixtape, minus the first 5 or 10 seconds, from a radio recording -- probably after the DJ said something like "here's a track from Smashing Pumpkins that you may not have heard." And I hadn't. And I freaking loved it. Probably as much or more than any track on Siamese Dream. But for at least a year or more, the only time I ever heard that song was that single radio appearance and on the cassette I fortunately caught the track on. By then, I'd bought Gish and the B-sides and outtakes collection Pisces Iscariot, but it wasn't on them, it wasn't on anything they'd released as far as I could tell and again, pre-Wikipedia, pre-Internet days, I had no idea where to find this magical, wonderful hidden track by my one of my favorite bands at the time.
Fast forward to 1994. I was visiting my old apartment where my old roommates still lived but I was out of school then (they were younger than me, not taking longer to graduate) and I remember we were all just hanging out in the vast expanse of our shitty living room and Singles was on some cable channel and we were all watching it, intently, for some reason. Actually I think most everyone in the room was high. Anyway, at some point in the film, "Drown" comes on. And I start flipping out -- in my mind at least -- I thought maybe I was hallucinating or something but no, there it was, this magical song that I'd loved for some time but didn't ever hear anywhere outside of a fraying cassette tape I'd made in my bedroom a year earlier. I didn't have a job yet, that I remember distinctly, so I didn't have any cash still but at some point not too long in the future, I eventually bought the Singles soundtrack and found "Drown" on there, in the last position, after the Pearl Jam and the Soundgarden and the Westerberg and the Screaming Trees. And at 8+ minutes long, it was one of the first really long songs I'd ever liked (long songs have since become a passion of mine). So even though I don't really care much for the Smashing Pumpkins anymore, there's still something magical about that song. And my memories of it.
No matter where you are, I can still hear you when you drown.