S-Tier Songs, Vol. 19

Once again it’s time to add to the list of S-Tier songs. For the list as of now and the basic guidelines about it all, head here.

Today’s entry is quick and to the point. It’s about two minutes long, it’s about being unable to “perform” while drunk, and that’s really about it.

Elastica – Stutter

As I said, this one is pretty cut and dry. It’s a simple punk tune, though delivered with smooth women’s vocals as opposed to some shouty drunk guy. The song is expertly constructed in its simplicity and walks a fine line between hard and catchy while getting both sides right. No need to reserves space to evaluate a guitar solo here, this song is out just a quick as it came in.

The lyrical content, while simple in two verses and the chorus, doesn’t quite “come and go.” The song is about a well-known phenomenon where a fella can’t quite get to business after having too much to drink. I suppose “erectile dysfunction” is the proper medical term here. Vocalist Justine Frischmann, also the songwriter, handles the problem in stride, she seems willing to encourage her down and out lover rather than be too upset about it. Though it’s clear she’d also prefer to get to some action.

Stutter was released as a single before Elastica had recorded a full-length. The single was packaged as a limited run of 1,500 records and they flew off store shelves. A series of British media articles shined more attention on the band, and the meteoric rise to fame was on. Two more singles would light up UK charts in 1994, then their debut album released to smash success in early 1995.

The powers that be delayed the release of Stutter in the US until late 1994, a move that likely paid off as the full-length was close to release at that point. Stutter did nominally well on the Billboard charts at position 67, though it did hang out on the charts for 9 weeks. It also broke the top 10 of the alternative rock chart. Subsequent singles would climb higher on both UK and US charts.

The music video was a simple yet effective shot that was in heavy rotation on MTV and other video channels in 1995. Stutter served a number of outlets at the time – “post-grunge” was coming in and Elastica were exactly in the right place at the right time for that. And Britpop was a movement with legs around this time. While Elastica’s sound might not “vibe” with what most consider Britpop, they were undeniably a successful act on the scene at the time. And they were one of the more successful Britpop outfits in the US, second in sales only to the mass success of Oasis. Also, Elastica even outdid Oasis in their shared home country of England – Elastica’s debut album outsold Oasis’ Definitely Maybe, handing Elastica the crown of “highest-selling debut album” in the UK until the Arctic Monkeys came around over a decade later.

There is one other bit of trivia surrounding Stutter that also, uh, sort of involves the Britpop phenomenon. It is widely speculated that the song’s lyrics might be about another of the luminaries of the Britpop movement. Justine Frischmann was an early member of Suede and was in a relationship with that band’s frontman Brett Anderson. Frischmann wound up leaving Anderson for Damon Albarn, frontman of Blur (and later Gorillaz). Frischmann and Albarn were together for a handful of years and were linked at the time Stutter was conceived.

So the question is often asked – is Stutter about either Anderson or Albarn? No answer has been provided and I doubt one ever will. It’s the fodder of endless speculation on ye olde Internet, but it’s also pretty slimy in a way. It’s not like I’d ever ask Justine that question were I in the same room as her. Kind of personal stuff there.

And also – it’s entirely possible the song has nothing to do with either Anderson or Albarn. It might have just been an idea that Frischmann ran with. I thought about not even including this part of the post, but honestly the post was kind of short for my tastes and it’s not like Frischmann is gonna read this and be like “you’re gross.”

Why is this an S-Tier song?

Stutter is a short and to-the-point affair that communicates its message in a clever and coy way despite the aural assault of the music. Justine Frischmann lends some subtle qualities to her vocal delivery that makes the song work in a more playful manner, even though she’d prefer her lover to get to business. The song was a moment in time that fit the time perfectly, as 1995 was a period of transition out of the darker air of the early 90’s. Elastica were in a great place to offer up a ligher-hearted and funny take on an issue not really getting airplay in the grunge years, and the result was very well-received.

A Story And A Song – 3 AM

Today’s song and story come from a recent holiday drive. The song is 3 AM, one of the hit singles from the debut Matchbox Twenty album Yourself Or Someone Like You. In an odd bit of trivia, the song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 only because it was not released as a physical single in the US. But the song did very well and the album was a super smash hit.

Matchbox Twenty were a pretty important band at the time. While I think their proper classification is alternative rock, the term “post-grunge” is used a lot when talking about them. This was the shape of rock after grunge flamed out in the middle part of the 1990’s.

The story goes back to Thanksgiving Day, which was was back like two weeks ago here in the US. We were driving back from a Thanksgiving dinner in a car with me, my girlfriend, her sister and her sister’s kid (my girlfriend’s niece).

We were coming from a fairly remote part of southwest Missouri back to the one city in the region that we live in. Finding something on the radio on forlorn highway roads is always a chore. These areas are known for having country, talk radio or religious programming on the dial. And of course, FM stations tune in and out very easily out in these rural areas.

At one point a rock station came on and the song in question was playing. After a bit, my girlfriend’s sister asked her daughter what she thought of the song. Her response?

“It’s fine. It sounds like country music.”

It was a pretty funny observation to the rest of us in the car, who have all been plenty exposed to country music. But after a second I realized how telling of a statement it was from a 13 year old kid who probably isn’t up on the history of country music.

The point is obviously about the state of modern country music – is this where it’s at? Someone not alive in Matchbox Twenty’s heyday thinks that their stuff is representative of a different genre of music?

Country music takes a lot of hits these days. The bro-country phenomenon of the past several years was awful. There has been a long-running battle between the entrenched machine of the Nashville industry and artists wanting more creative freedom. Country also takes a lot of flak for representing “older” values as well as a slant towards conservative politics and a lot of the worse things associated with those, both fairly and unfairly.

But when someone on first listen to an old alt-rock song thinks it sounds like your genre? I think it speaks volumes about the genre. Granted, I’m not very up on country these days and if I do pay attention, it’s to more independent artists who aren’t part of the Music Row network. I don’t really know what’s playing on mainstream country radio these days. But from the bits and pieces I’ve picked up, it’s not a far leap to suggest that today’s country is yesterday’s alt-rock. That’s not an absolute statement, of course, but it’s probably fair.

There are probably a lot of larger issues about country music that warrant discussion but that’s not really what this post is about. It was just a funny comment that made me think “Wow, is that what country has come to?” And there may not be as much to it as I’m speculating, but I’d say there’s something to it.

I could wrap up by posting Rob Thomas’ actual biggest hit, but I won’t do that to myself or anyone else. Instead let’s bow out with a bit of country.

S-Tier Songs, Vol. 17

It’s yet another installation of the S-Tier Songs series. The list of entries so far and the basic tenants of the exercise can be found on this page.

Today’s offering is one of the finest moments of the grunge movement. Even with being “grunge,” it is a suiting power ballad that evokes sadness and despair in a way not a lot of artists can touch.

Alice In Chains – Down In A Hole

Our song today hails from the album Dirt, the 1992 masterpiece of the Seattle-led grunge period. The album sold millions and was ever-present on radio and video airwaves. It qualifies as “classic rock” today and is still in rotation far and wide.

Down In A Hole was the fifth and final single from the album. It was released as a single almost a full year after the album arrived. The single sold over a million copies and charted in several countries. On Spotify it is the third-most streamed song from Dirt, behind only the mega-hits Rooster and Would?

The song begins very softly, almost in a way that departs the hard-edged album it is from. But it remains within the Alice In Chains lexicon, with suitably melancholy guitar work from Jerry Cantrell and the sheer power of the vocals of Layne Stayley, with harmonies provided by Cantrell. The singing has always been a highlight of AIC and both Stayley and Cantrell shine especially bright on this song.

The lyrical content of a song called Down In A Hole is, of course, pretty downtrodden. Though not from the doom genre per se, this could easily be considered a doom song thematically. It sounds like someone in the grip of utter despair and hopelessness. Every line is awash in depression and soul-crushing anguish. Lines like “See my heart, I decorate it like a grave” and “You don’t understand who they thought I was supposed to be, look at me now I’m a man who won’t let himself be” are jewels in this crown of misery.

Jerry Cantrell, the song’s sole writer, shed some light on the song’s origins in the liner notes to the band’s 1999 box set Music Bank. He states that the song was written about his girlfriend at the time and the realities of a long-term relationship and how they clash with being in a band. While there are plenty of songs about that and about life on the road in general, I don’t know how he got Down In A Hole out of that. But hey, I’m glad he did.

Down In A Hole has been a staple of the Alice In Chains setlist, with one major caveat to that – they did not often perform the song when Layne Stayley was alive. It was not a regular part of the setlist on the band’s tours in the early 90’s, and the group did not tour much after that due to Stayley’s health issues. A vast majority of Down In The Hole performances are from the band’s modern incarnation with William Duvall at the vocal helm.

One notable exception was the 1996 MTV Unplugged performance. This did feature Layne and the song worked very well in the unplugged setting. Alice In Chains were always a proficient acoustic act anyway, so having this version of the song is a massive plus.

Why is this an S-Tier song?

Down In A Hole is both beautiful and soul-crushing. It communicates absolute sadness but in a very majestic way. It showcases the main strengths of Alice In Chains, those being the voice of Layne Stayley and the musicianship and songwriting of Jerry Cantrell. It is an amazing work that got huge airplay despite being such a depressing affair.

Tales From The Stage – Nine Inch Nails

Gonna turn back the clock to the year 2000 and talk about a much-anticipated show I took in. The gig was Nine Inch Nails with A Perfect Circle opening and it took place at the end of May in St. Louis. It was a gig with some marquee names and – well, something of a crowd, anyway.

No massive build-up for this one, it was pretty simple – NIN booked the gig, we got tickets and went. The show was at what was then called the Riverport Amphitheater outside St. Louis. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it was the scene of the infamous Guns N’ Roses riot in 1991. (As opposed to the 1992 riot in Montreal, which was indoors). We had pretty decent seats that were under the awning, which extended a bit past the stage. The bill was simple – APC first, then NIN. No other openers or anything that I recall, and online archives seem to back me up.

A Perfect Circle were just getting started in 2000. Their debut Mer De Noms had just released a few days prior to the show, while the lead single Judith was getting a lot of play on the airwaves. The band was formed by Tool mainman Maynard James Keenan and his friend, guitar tech wizard Billy Howerdel. The album and touring cycle would prove immensely successful for the group and defined the band on their own terms as opposed to being Maynard’s side project.

APC would air a 40 minute set out in their opening slot. Given the compact nature of their songs this gave them time to play all but one song from Mer De Noms. Maynard opted to sing the gig front and center as opposed to his usual antics he gets up to in Tool, though I don’t recall any stage banter from him. The band played well and ran through the album, though not in album order. Future singles The Hollow and 3 Libras saw time and they wrapped their set up with the hit Judith.

One of the few clips I could find as opposed to full shows. This show is from a date after the NIN tour but still in 2000.

During their set a bit of rain fell from the sky. Our seats were a bit under the amphitheater roof but still close enough to the edge to get wet. It wasn’t a downpour or anything and it only lasted a moment but I did take a mental note to get seats closer if I wanted to avoid being caught in anything. The weather wouldn’t be a factor at future gigs there (rain-wise, anyway).

After the stage changeover it was time for the main event. Nine Inch Nails were touring the US on their 1999 double album The Fragile. While the album was lengthy it had gone over pretty well with the fanbase so the tour served as a showcase of that album as opposed to being a hits set with just a few newer tunes sprinkled in. The 19-song set would feature 3 tracks from the debut Pretty Hate Machine, 3 from the seminal Broken EP, 4 from the magnum opus The Downward Spiral and the remaining 9 all from The Fragile.

Trent and company made their way through their romp without much fuss. Much like Maynard and APC, there was not a ton of inbetween-song banter to be had from Trent Reznor. He did comment “fuck you pigs” at one point, without elaborating on who exactly he was referencing. He might have belched out another thing or two but it was pretty much get one song done and get on with another. Of course, one doesn’t go to a show that Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan are fronting for stage banter. Sammy Hagar was around a few months later, if memory serves.

One of The Fragile’s best songs with bad video but great audio from the same tour

I will say one thing – the crowd was very much not about energy that night. I mean, I suppose we can consider Nine Inch Nails a more ponderous experience than a straight up rock n’ roll band, but there just wasn’t a lot of life in the crowd. I thought it was a bit lame but honestly it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the set. It would mark the start of generally lame Missouri concert crowds I would notice in the future, though (with some exceptions).

There was a bit of energy in the crowd at one point – in the aisle not far from our seats, a few people got into a fight at one point. I have no clue what they were into fisticuffs about since I was, like, listening to Nine Inch Nails, but they had it out over something. The fight didn’t last long – security came out and absolutely messed these two up. One of the combatants got thrown straight into the concrete. Remember, this is the very place that Axl Rose tore to the ground nine years earlier and the birth of pre-9/11 big concert security. The fight got broken up in far more brutal fashion than the fight itself went.

Undaunted by action they probably didn’t see, Nine Inch Nails pressed on with their visit through The Fragile and other works. They played a handful of other hits, stuff like Sin, Wish, Gave Up and Terrible Lie were all welcome inclusions. They wrapped up the set proper with obvious hits Closer and Head Like A Hole, before coming back for an encore that featured a few Fragile tunes as well as the finale Hurt. We were still a few years away from Johnny Cash working his magic with that song.

I was a bit stumped that they did not include The Fragile single We’re In This Together Now, but it was not to be found that night. And while it wasn’t a breaker for me, I would’ve loved to hear Last and Burn, though I think the former wasn’t played much live until several years on from this show.

Overall the concert was a good experience. It does mark my first and, to date, only time seeing either band. I would like to see them again, especially Nine Inch Nails, but we will see what time and circumstances have on hand. Both bands did great in the house that Axl Rose tried to unbuild.

One other note – at one time I had the Nine Inch Nails performance on burned CDs. This was back in the wilderness days of eBay and they let people get away with selling bootlegs. I didn’t pay much for it, less than $10. It was a cool memento to have but sadly I lost the discs before the age of digital ripping really caught on and I don’t have access to the set anymore.

Sin, from an earlier stop on the same tour

A Story And A Song, Vol. 3

Just a quick note – this series is an unconnected group of stories, just titled this way for summary purposes. Nothing missed before is necessary for this or the next, and so on. The category this is under on the right will lead one to other one-offs in this series.

This will be a bit of quickie. It’s a song and a quick story.

The song is this – the big hit from the Wallflowers in 1996. One Headlight would become the signature song for Jakob Dylan’s outfit amongst the alternative rock, post-grunge hits of the late ’90’s. It placed on multiple US Billboard rock charts and was a staple of mid- to late-90’s rock radio. The Wallflowers would have a few more noticeable songs, mostly from the same 1997 album Bringing Down The Horse, but One Headlight is the band’s bona fide hit.

Here’s the story – I think it’s 2018, or maybe 2019. It’s winter, so if it’s 2019 it’s just a bit before the pandemic came over to the United States. I can’t quite remember which winter this story fell into, but I recall the details clearly.

Several of us met up at a local brewery. Craft beer has been a social and economic boon the past decade, and our semi-sleepy Midwest town caught the late wave in the latter half of the 2010’s. One of the best ones in our town that now boasts 12 or 40 or however many has hosted music over their few years of existence. While now they have a mix of renowned local talent and hot regional acts come in to play on a prepared stage, such was not the case in 2018 or 2019 when this story happened.

I was out with several of my friends on that evening. As time wore on, our friends and significant others left us (for the evening), just leaving my friend and I behind at around 8 PM.

We were at one of those tall bench tables, standing and having a few more suds on a Saturday night. Around that time, some dude comes in and sets up shop with a mic, practice amp and an acoustic guitar. He does cover songs. A one-person project doing cover songs acoustically is not some huge deal, other than the guy is set up just a few feet away from us. We press on with our drinking and talking.

At some point this one-man band busts out his rendition of One Headlight. It was the first noteworthy song he did to point. My friend and I looked at each other with this combination spark of bewilderment and familiarity – “we know this song.” Then, “oh yeah, it’s that one song from way back when.”

We had to take a moment to assess this rendition being done basically in front of us. We started debating the merits of One Headlight and The Wallflowers. Are they worthy? Is it a good song or not? We defaulted to “nah,” but as the song went on we amended our two-person consensus to “you know, it isn’t terrible.”

We finished our brews and called it a night, leaving the one-man acoustic project whose name I can’t recall but I think was Tyler behind. Then I woke up the next day.

Come on, try a little, nothing is forever….

I had the damn song stuck in my head.

It’s ok. I’ve been jamming to music since I was like 5 and I was 43 at this point. I can hack this, I’ve had songs stuck in my head before.

But this wouldn’t go away.

Got to be something better than in the middle…

I honestly went for days with this song in my head. I get it, in a way – I really hadn’t heard it in many years and it was a sudden nostalgia trip. I have never had a song stuck in my head for as long as this ear worm crawled its way in. It was honestly days, even weeks that I had to play it. This wasn’t that momentary song you could get over after a bit – this fucker was straight stuck.

Me and Cinderella, we put it all together…

I had to reckon with this song for awhile. I’ve had songs stuck in my head that I don’t necessarily mind, but I don’t really want to be stuck with them. I’ve also had songs stuck in my head that I wish would die in a fire and the ashes be shot into the Sun.

But this was different. Hearing The Wallflowers again caused me to revisit the album and remember that, hey, I dug this stuff once upon a time. I do wind up in fond nostalgia from time to time, as I’m sure most music listeners do. This was one that had truly passed me by but I became re-acclimated through this dude with his guitar at the brewery on a Saturday night.

We can drive it home on one headlight…

That’s about all there is to this story. It isn’t world-changing or even that notable. Hell, it’s barely a story. But I do still vividly recall that night I got this damn song stuck in my head after nearly two decades of not hearing it. And now I’ll even cop to being a fan, even if on the edges, of The Wallflowers. Hell, they put out a record last year that I gave a minute to. It’s nice to get back in touch with something seemingly long lost, you only get so many of those moments before it’s all said and done.

Who Killed Hair Metal? Part One

Music has been rife with death. Many songs are about death, many great players have died, and many scenes and movements have also passed on. Hell, there’s a whole metal subgenre about the subject, started by a band with the very name.

But this isn’t about death metal. No, this is about the death of a scene in rock and metal. 1991 marked the effective end of a distinct sound from the 1980’s, that oft-maligned but still beloved entity known as hair metal.

My purpose in this series is to examine the factors that led to the demise of hair metal. There are multiple issues at hand and different angles to look at. While a lot of ink has already been spilled on the matter, I wanted to go back 30 years after the fact and cover a few points that don’t always get brought up.

This will be a 4-part series, each one with its own “suspect” in the brutal death of hair metal. Our first look will be at the prime suspect, and the next 2 parts will cover suspects that maybe slide under the radar a bit.

And yes – any of us who were around then know exactly who killed hair metal. That’s part 4 of my series coming on Friday, so please air a bit of patience while I build up to the extremely obvious answer to the question that everyone already knows damn good and well.

We have a crime, a victim and a murder scene. Now it’s time to get into it – who killed hair metal?

Trixter tried warning everyone to get on the flannel bandwagon. Their call sadly went unheard on Sunset Strip.

Suspect One – Grunge

If this were a game of Clue, the answer is simple – Kurt Cobain with the guitar in the MTV lobby is what killed hair metal. The video premeir of Smells Like Teen Spirit on September 10, 1991 is as good of a time of death as any for hair metal – Nirvana was the figurehead that shifted music forever and rendered a lot that came before them obsolete. Nothing was the same after Nirvana hit the airwaves.

Of course, grunge doesn’t actually begin with Nirvana. There were a “big 4” to grunge, just as thrash metal has its big 4. And two bands were already making early waves before 1991 – both Soundgarden and Alice In Chains were quietly gaining momentum on MTV and radio before the actual “death” of hair metal, with AIC having a long-running hit single with Man In The Box and its album Facelift going gold before grunge really even “took off.” Seattle mates Pearl Jam would join in the popular explosion of grunge, releasing their debut in August 1991 and it taking off to untold heights in the next year.

Grunge rewrote the rules for how bands should look and how music should sound. Hair metal would suffer greatly under the weight of the new regime. Grunge fashion was flannel shirts and whatever else might be laying on the bedroom floor, a far cry from the leather and diamonds glitz of hair metal. And the sound was rough, unpolished and about heavy and vulnerable topics – a world removed from hair metal’s celebration of party life, sex and ballads about love (and sex). The worlds could not be more different, even if the instruments were the same.

I do think it’s fair to use Nirvana’s ascent as the symbolic end of hair metal, even if doing so obscures several truths. It’s a quick and easy place to point to without having to raise too much fuss. I will be going far beyond Smells Like Teen Spirit in this series, but that moment was a very stark turning point in the course of music in 1991.

I don’t think it’s entirely fair to only “blame” Nirvana, or even the others of grunge’s big 4. There always was a different strain of rock music playing out long before grunge hit. Some of the acts influenced the grunge movement and others became huge stars on their own terms, free of ties to any particular movement.

The fact is this – grunge ushered in the age of alternative rock, and alt-rock subsequently took over and became rock music. But it must be noted that alternative rock was going for a long time before grunge captured the scene. College radio was filled with alternatives to the hair bands, and MTV ran the 120 Minutes progam that showcased a large variety of alternative artists before the term alternative really became a thing.

The idea of having something else besides hair metal was already there. Honestly, I’m not sure Nirvana was even necessary in the equation. That doesn’t matter, of course, as history is what it is. But the apparatus to overthrow the excesses and poor record label decisions in regards to hair metal was already in place.

Grunge itself would die a death not totally unlike hair metal. Bands that came after the Seattle legends would be derided for riding coattails by critics, although fans flocked to the likes of Stone Temple Pilots and Bush without issue. And the acutal death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 threw the grunge scene into chaos. Pearl Jam would transcend the grunge label and go on their own way, while Soundgarden and Alice In Chains would go on long hiatus (the latter also fueled by death).

The death of grunge did not lead to new life for hair metal. The bands who defined the 1980’s Sunset Strip scene were not the same as they were before. Many members had quit or died, bands went on their own hiatus and even the return of Motley Crue did not serve to reawaken the hair metal beast. Rock music had moved on and hair metal would become a movement relegated to state fairs and legions of rights disputes and multiple lineups of the same band performing at clubs all over the land.

The cultural shift of 1991 was not just a change in sound – it marked the end of ’80’s excess and ushered in a new age of self-awareness and discussion of tough issues not normally given air in conversation before. It was the true defining mark of Generation X, a group sometimes lost in today’s “civil” discourse but still very much responsible for the need for change still felt today.

I’m not a lawyer or a judge, but this is my courtroom, and I do indeed find grunge guilty of the murder of hair metal. But I don’t stop at Nirvana, or Soundgarden or the others. I find the whole of alternative rock just as guilty. Alt-rock would supplant the norms of rock music before it, both hair metal and AOR and reshape what radio and TV played. The late ’90’s saw a whole new host of bands redefine rock, and then the early 2000’s saw the advent of who has become rock’s biggest band in the modern era. As maligned as they are, there is no doubt that Nickelback took a sound and sent rock music into a direction far away from the hair and makeup glitz of the 1980’s.

Yes, grunge and alt-rock are responsible for the death of hair metal. Sometimes the obvious answer is obvious because it’s simply true. Hair metal died on September 10, 1991, having lived barely a decade. It really was Kurt Cobain in the MTV lobby with the guitar that did hair metal in, even if he had tons of assistance.

Sure, grunge had its role to play in this “murder,” but grunge was not alone. Tomorrow I’ll cast light on a different suspect – was the death of hair metal an inside job?

S-Tier Songs, Vol. One

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.