the Buzz for August 4th, 2011


Temple of the Dog — “Hunger Strike” (from Temple of the Dog) — Hunger Strike - Temple of the Dog

Because I love that boy dearly, I’m offering A a bonus grunge-era classic (albeit one to which he’s already had previous exposure, though I suspect he may have already blocked that all out) to put a kind of punctuation mark on our recent pilgrimage to Seattle. In eulogizing Amy Winehouse last week, NBC Nightly News‘ anchor Brian Williams stated that she forever changed her part of the music business, and while I’m still not so sure Williams wasn’t overselling the farm with such a confident declaration, I take his point well. You know, you listen to this song, this accidental collaboration between Messrs. Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder — the two most cocksure frontmen of their era, of their decade — and you can’t help but ponder if they had even the slightest clue when they recorded this that they were literally on the cusp of radical, mind-stomping success, that they were just about to change and change forever their corner of the bidness. (For those who don’t know the story, Cornell’s best friend had died of a heroin overdose, and he pulled together the friend’s bandmates to create a tribute, a tribute which grew to include Vedder, who had flown to Seattle to audition to be the lead singer of the band which was to become Pearl Jam. Vedder ended up sitting in on the Temple of the Dog sessions as a background vocalist, and when he saw that Cornell was having trouble with some of the lines in “Hunger Strike,” Vedder stepped up to the lead mike and so impressed Cornell and the band that the song was refashioned as something of a duet — “Up Where We Belong,” except with a grungier ethos — between the two men. Within a year, both Cornell’s own band, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam would have conceived and created their breakthrough efforts, and the rest is platinum-plated histree.)