Friday, November 3, 2017
Unlike Alice In Chains, Soundgarden had actually called it a day--then a night, for good measure.
Chris Cornell solidified himself as one of the greatest male voices of his generation. He released four solo albums (some more adventurous than others), took over Zach de la Rocha's spot in a renamed Rage Against the Machine, and performed a Bond theme. Matt Cameron joined Pearl Jam. Ben Shepherd lost a fiancee, gained a pain pill jones, and continued playing music. Kim Thayil stayed in the ring as well, perhaps most prominently as a member of the reactionary punk group No WTO Combo (alongside Jello Biafra and Krist Novoselic).
Thirteen years after watching the jersey ascend, the members of Soundgarden reconvened to ascend the rafters and rip that bitch back down. Another two years passed by before they re-took the field.
"Been Away Too Long"--So on the nose that it begins burrowing into the motherfucker. High-octane rock-demigod maneuvers on display. Has it truly felt so empty without them?
"Non-State Actor"--Masterful meerkat boogie, featuring those oddball time signatures I've always loved them for. (Soundgarden, not the meerkats.)
"By Crooked Steps"--The abominable snowman walks with a limp and talks with a lisp. Thus, he doesn't do much of either. He envies the likes of Chris Cornell. He'll never open his mouth and hear doves soar. He thinks being "addicted to feeling" is a positive.
"A Thousand Days Before"--A defanged coppermouth is a coppermouth, regardless. Defiance in isolation is awesome since it impresses the exact number of people it needs to impress.
"Blood On the Valley Floor"--The sun's having its period, then. Or perhaps it was stabbed. How much blood, I wonder, and how thick. If I want to smear some on my face and run screaming into a bank with a bouquet of fallen tree branches, will my demands be met or will I be laughed out of the lobby?
"Bones of Birds"--Look, this is the 21st century. Don't pull the thang out unless you plan to bang.
"Taree"--Written in the 90s, recorded in the 00s. Therein the problem splays. Disheartening modern rock pablum with an anemic chorus.
"Attrition"--Tire-tester working a double shift. All's on the level.
"Black Saturday"--"Kill me right away if I start to get slow and don't remember how to separate worms from the apple."
People are here on this planet to be bothered by one another. Don't forget that.
"Halfway There"--Various questions. I've answers for several. Most people are born to a life of mediocrity, talents and efforts be damned. Makes as much sense as flavoring a cup of coffee with a splash of apple juice. Yet, that's what I'm hearing here.
"Worse Dreams"--Wandering room to room, wiping hands (and worse) on doilies and spooking old women.
"Eyelid's Mouth"--Christ, that is such a Soundgarden song title. And such a Badmotorfinger b-side.
"Rowing"--Onward. Ever so. Don't stop till you get too much.
I'm glad the final song on a Soundgarden's final studio album is super-sparse and ruminative. Honors them well.
"Rowing is living/And living is hard/But living beats losing all that we are."
I'd advise strongly against castigating a man for changing his mind.