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.
For My Sunday Song #335, we are tackling “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog. The song was off their debut and only album, 1991’s Temple of the Dog. It was the first single and reached #4 on the US Mainstream Rock Chart. A song that was written by Chris Cornell and he thought it was only filler for the album and suddenly became their biggest hit. We could write a whole story on the band, but we will stick with just the song.
The band was Chris Cornell, Jeff Ament, Steve Gossard, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron. They got together to honor their friend Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone who died a year earlier. Chris pulled this song out and Mike McCready thought it was a beautiful song. The song is about the inequalities amongst people. How some people get everything they want and it is handed to them on a silver platter while others scrap by, barely able to make ends meet or can’t make ends meet. He feels that the rich are stealing from the others that don’t have. He understands he is in that position where he can do something and wants to do a hunger strike until everyone has equality. He will become Robin Hood and steal that bread from the rich to help the poor. It is a great sentiment, but one that sadly has never been fixed as it is even more of a problem today.
Eddie Vedder joins Chris on vocals but that wasn’t the plan. Eddie was in the studio helping with backing vocals when he saw Chris struggling on the really low notes and with balls of steel, got up out of his chair went up to the mic and started singing. Chris thought it was gutsy and brilliant because it worked on so many levels are their voices play so well off each other and for me is the highlight of the song. I also love the guitar parts as there is this particular twang around the choruses that sounds so cool. The drumming is great, the rhythm section is fantastic and this is one of my favorite songs of Chris’ and of the 90’s. Brilliant track!