I talk about albums at least once a week when I do the Album of the Week feature on Mondays. And I do listen to albums on a pretty regular basis. My main form of music listening and evaluation is the album.
However, in the end with music, it’s still about the songs. Some albums are kind of mediocre overall but have a few great songs on them. And even the best albums still have some songs that outshine others.
For this new ongoing series I’m going to highlight what I consider the best of the best. It’ll be sort of my own song hall of fame though I decided against using that to name this series.
Instead I’ll go with S-Tier songs.
As I add more songs to this list I’ll start a page to catalog them and offer some parameters I’ve come up with as I do this. For now, let’s get right into it and enjoy the first of the S-Tier songs.
Soundgarden – Burden In My Hand
This tune always stood out to me from the band’s 1996 set Down On The Upside. It’s some kind of twisted murder ballad that also seems to leave something to the imagination. It’s a bit distorted and trippy and it fits well on what would be Soundgarden’s final work for a long time.
Lyrically the song captures the torment of someone who killed his lover and now wanders without her. The words are well-placed and also fit the psychadelic music with a sometimes vague quality. Yeah, it’s clear he offed his old lady and that he’s messed up but this isn’t some Point A-to-Point B story. There is plenty of exposition, or perhaps mystery, to be found in the lyrics. There is no clear-cut resolution for the subject or certainly his victim.
Part of this may be due to how Chris Cornell wrote the song. In a 2012 interview with Artist Direct, Cornell states that he wrote the lyrics while playing on the guitar. It wasn’t a straight lyrical sketch – the riff seemed to dictate what words should go where. I’d imagine that would lend to the song’s lack of straightforward storytelling.
It’s a little hard to say this song has too powerful of a personal meaning – I mean, kinda hard to relate to murder. (At least I would hope…) However, the idea of wandering without direction through a desert, literal or metophorical, just totally lost – that part can hold some meaning.
Though not really important to evaluation of the song I did want to mention the music video. I like a video such as this that simply accents what’s in the song. The entire thing is just the band walking through the desert, just the same as the song’s subject murderer. It’s nice when a video accompanies a song, far too often a video has its own identity that I feel takes away from the song’s meaning. Certinaly not the case here.
Why is this song S-Tier?
It’s the combination of almost post-grunge music along with haunting yet cryptic lyrics sung by one of the best to ever pick up a microphone. Both the imagery conveyed and the space left for the listener to fill in offer a masterful soundscape.
That does it for the first edition of S-Tier songs. Enjoy your weekend and try not to like, stab your significant other or anything.