Lleyton Hewitt-Billy Corgan career trajectory intersection
Two happenings over the last week that would seem completely unrelated somehow meshed to provide some common meaning.
Lleyton Hewitt won matches at the Olympics, reminding people he is still around and giving glimmers of a return to the glory days.
Billy Corgan brought his Smashing Pumpkins to Australia reminding people of his (and perhaps their) glory days.
(These are not the Smashing Pumpkins of Siamese Dream/Mellon Collie glory days – but really, it was all about Billy back then too.)
Billy and Lleyton make an odd couple with some similarities. Lleyton has never been fully embraced by the Australian public and ‘Camp Hewitt’ has always been looked upon with some suspicion that it was completely removed from reality and added to other negatives such as the spoilt brat persona and the Bec and Kim changeover.
As a rock star, it’s part of the PD to be out of touch with reality, and Billy fills it like hand in glove. From sackings and re-sackings of his original bandmates, overly pretentious stylings, to the plain creepy romance with one of the Veronicas – even Smashing Pumpkins fans are not necessarily Corgan devotees.
To understate it, in the ‘all-round-good-bloke’ stakes, Lleyton is no Pat Rafter and Billy is no Dave Grohl.
A Lleyton Hewitt match these days is a punishing workout. You know that nothing will come easy, you know that it’s hurting him but you know that he’s giving it the lot and that’s reason enough to keep watching. The trademark “c’mon’s” and stolen Mats Wilander hand signal are still there, it hasn’t really changed from the glory days except that the rest of the world ended up passing him.
And when Billy stepped on to the stage at Splendour in the Grass there was an eerie sense of connection. His opening rock moves were hard to distinguish between sincere and parody, much like Lleyton’s histrionics. After a bizarre opening that had his anonymous drummer singing a Kiss cover, he played a slew of hits in workmanlike fashion before settling in to the ‘new album’. At this point you couldn’t help but notice the protruding gut from under his T-shirt, the on-stage demands to roadies to fix this and fix that. Hanging on, the words that we’re all thinking with Lleyton.
Though when he launched into ‘1979′ followed by ‘Cherub Rock’ you could forgive him for everything – two very different but iconic songs from his two big albums and they sounded brilliant.
And when Lleyton takes a set off Djokovic, you remember what made him great and you dare to think that it could all come together and he wasn’t just ‘hanging on’.
The reality is Lleyton will never win another major and Billy won’t have another hit or critically acclaimed album. And for most, as soon as that point is reached they pack it all in and go and do something else where they can’t lose or ‘damage the brand’.
In sport it’s the commentary box, in music it’s showing up to do reunion tours every five years with maybe the odd dabble in a reality TV show.
And perhaps that’s what we should look at with these two often-maligned figures, give them credit for supposed egomaniacs taking the ultimate ego hit for the love of the game. Lleyton sure can’t enjoy seeing his name ranked at 179, and I don’t think Billy would feel great about being interviewed by Larry Emdur on the Channel 7 morning show to plug the album and tour.
They are ego hits that clearly are outweighed by the passion these blokes have for their craft in spite of what we think they should do. When Lleyton talks about playing on and Davis Cup being his ultimate priority, it can’t be anything but true and he’d probably be the only player in the last 20 years who could say that.
In ‘1979′ “Justine never knew the rules”, either do Lleyton and Billy and, despite their idiosyncrasies, that’s admirable.
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