My Sunday Song – “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden

For the last My Sunday Song #350 for the Chris Cornell 10 song set is “Black Hole Sun” by his band Soundgarden. The song is off their 1994 album Superunknown and went to #1 on the Mainstream Rock Chart in the U.S. The song has so many accolades including one of the Top 500 Songs of all time landing at #368. It didn’t go Gold in the U.S., but did in the UK, Australia and Italy. It is one of their most recognizable and amazing songs and was written by Chris Cornell.

The song was written by Chris mostly on a drive from the studio in Woodinville to Seattle which was about a 34-40 minute drive. Once he got home, he whistled it in to a dictaphone. The next more he got and wallah, a new song. The song was inspired by a story on the news, Chris doesn’t remember the story itself just the words Black Hole Sun which he thought would be a great title to the song. When he wrote the lyrics in about 15 minutes, there was no meaning, per se, behind them, basically it was him putting words together that painted this dark picture. From reading the lyrics, it sort of looks like a song about disillusionment and how the world has grown so dark and mean that no more honest men exist as everyone is eventually turned to the dark side.

Musically, the song is just as dark sounding at times with a grunge sound, but also a little psychedelic with a slight Beatles vibe to it. The chorus feels a little upbeat and a little sunnier, but when that chorus comes in it feels like a menacing dark sludge. Kim Thayil’s guitar tone on this is perfect for the song as it has some really cool moments with that solo lying under the grungy riff really plays nicely off each other. Cornell’s vocals on the chorus seem monotonous at times as they are trudging through the sludge of the music. His backing vocals are higher pitched and really give the song something a little extra. I was immediately engrossed in this song the first time I heard as there is so much going on. It is simply wonderful.

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My Sunday Song – “Burden in My Hand” by Soundgarden

Happy New Year and let us kick it off with a new 10 song set of My Sunday Songs. And with #331, we are kicking off with the first of 10 songs that will feature Chris Cornell, First up is the Soundgarden song “Burden in My Hand” off their 1996 album ‘Down on the Upside’. It was written by Chris and was released as the second single September 18, 1996. It did really well spending five weeks at #1 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Chart.

The song is rather dark as it is about a guy that loses it and kills his wife. He admits it in the song. He is out in the desert where he buried her and his trying to deal with the grief and the guilt and coming to grips with what has happened. The lines “It’s just a burden in my hand / It’s just an anchor on my heart” reflects the guilt he is feeling. Kim Thayil of the band has called the song a modern “Hey Joe”. I can see that. Now, the song doesn’t say what happens to him or if he ever deals with his grief, but he is sitting there drowning his sorrows with alcohol and hopefully he drinks himself to death for what he has done

I love how the song starts out with Chris’ vocal going directly in to the first verse. The guitar comes in and it plays the song in C tuning (I read that on wiki as otherwise I’d have no idea). That opening verse with just the guitar, his voice and then the bass is perfect. The drums not coming in to until the bridge really adds a punch to the bridge. Then the full band is in for the second verse. I love the dark tone coming from the music as it matches the darkness and gloom of the situation. Chris vocals aren’t judgmental to the character, it is almost indifferent to what he has done, yet you feel a little empathy through his vocals. It is really interesting approach and it works.

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