Friday, June 30, 2017

Soundgarden - "Rusty Cage" (the song remains the same)

Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell passed last month, which I have to think will mark the end of Soundgarden, and possibly leaving only Pearl Jam as the lone survivor of the grunge movement of the early 90s.   I first learned of Soundgarden from my friend Drew, who in 90 or 91 lent me a copy of "Louder Than Love".  I don't think I have any Soundgarden CDs in my collection now, but I used to have the "Singles" soundtrack and I guess that counts.

Although Nirvana is probably the first among equals for the Seattle sound, it's hard to convey the impact of Soundgarden in the 90s.  Let's put it like this: when it came time for Johnny Cash's comeback LP, 1996's "Unchained", Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage" was one of the songs Cash covered.  Surely Rick Rubin had a big hand in the song selection, but it's hard to think of a higher honor than having Johnny Cash cover your song.

 "Rusty Cage" was the third single from Soundgarden's 1991 LP "Badmotorfinger" and while it's hardly their most popular song, it's the one Johnny Cash chose and so it's the one I choose to mark the death of Chris Cornell.

Soundgarden: "Rusty Cage"
Johnny Cash: "Rusty Cage"

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sonic Youth - Paulínia, Brazil 2011-11-14 (concert)

I recently read Kim Gordon's excellent 2015 autobiography "Girl in a Band", which chronicles the rise and fall of Sonic Youth and Kim's relationship with SY co-founder, Thurston Moore.   I previously blogged about the Gordon / Moore split, and as much as I'm a Thurston Moore fan he does not come off as a sympathetic character in Kim's version of the story.

I can't help but compare this to Chrissie Hynde's biography, which I read immediately prior to "Girl in a Band".  While both are good, there are several reasons why I enjoyed Kim's book more.  First, under Kim's aloof, arms-length persona is a poignant and vulnerable storyteller, and under Chrissie's armored exterior, there's just another layer of armor.   At the end of both books, you know Kim far more than you know Chrissie.  Second, Sonic Youth's music means more to me personally, and Kim arranged a good portion of the book to temporally aligned with major releases in SY's extensive discography.  In addition to the broader SY story, I learned interesting trivia such as Kim's father was a professor at UCLA, her teenage boyfriend was Danny Elfman, her life briefly intersected with Bruce Berry, and her dislike of Billy Corgan is rivaled only by Danette's. 

The book began with a description of SY's last concert in Brazil (soon after the announcement of their split), esp. the scene captured above of Thurston's mock surprise when the tech hands him his guitar.  Kim stated that she had not been able to watch this concert because of the emotional entanglement it represents.  Of course, this only increased the voyeuristic appeal of my seeing SY's last concert, and  Kim definitely seems detached from the rest of the band.  Since I would assess the probability of a SY reunion at roughly 0.0, this last show from 2011 is all we're likely to have.



See the reviews of "Girl in a Band" from the NY Times, Slate, The Guardian, and Stereogum