I remember when Chad Higgins introduced me to the music of Soundgarden. I think I’d gone to his room to retrieve a Screaming Trees CD when he asked whether I was familiar with them. He popped in Badmotorfinger and played three songs: "Rusty Cage", "Searching for the Ground", and "Drawing Flies." They blew me away. Around that time, I was also into Screaming Trees and Smashing Pumpkins. Looking back, I see that there is a depressing, shoe-gazish thread in Smashing Pumpkins’ music. However, they aren’t nearly as bad as Soundgarden, who never did anything light such as Smashing Pumpkins’ “Whir” or “La Dolly Vita” or “Crush”. It’s noteworthy, though, that the Smashing Pumpkins album containing the most light, happy songs—or that is the least depressing over all, whichever you prefer—is Pisces Iscariot, which is mainly a collection of songs that didn’t make the cut for the previous two albums. It came out to very little fanfare the year following the release of the breakout hit, Siamese Dream. Come to think of it, I didn’t even find out about until housemate, Patrick Searle told me about at least a year after its release. It’s been my favorite by the band ever since. Even the hard and fast stuff on it, i.e., Frail & Bedazzled, a Zeppelin-level ass-kicker, has a positive feel, offering the good kind of catharsis that rock music can. I’ve been telling people for years it’s their best album. As I write, I recall that I did own the original band’s last album, Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness, but did, in fact, either sell it or give it away because I didn’t like it. I’m should also note that Smashing Pumpkins has a song called Geek U.S.A. (Please, say it isn’t so.)
Now that I know what I know, I have no choice but to suspect that perhaps there are some less than good intentions in Soundgarden’s art other than the obvious lyrical turns against Christianity. Like Pisces Iscariot, their second album, Badmotorfinger contains mostly songs that offer catharsis without being downright dreary, but their next two albums, Superunknown and Down on the Upside, each take a decidedly depressing down-turn from the previous album. I think I always knew that, but I liked the music in Badmotorfinger so much, I stuck with the band. It took me while to get into Upside. Some of its songs are obtuse to the point of being nearly completely inaccessible. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, and, like so many other things I’ve said, it’s going to sound crazy: part of the brainwashing is to make the subject like being depressed and feeling lonely. It’s better than going out and being covertly harassed. They make you indignant with anger and sadness and then trick you into thinking it’s all caused by the U.S., capitalism, and Christianity. Chris Cornell is quite obviously anti-Christian. I recently came to the unavoidable conclusion that the brainwashing I’ve been subject to is primarily meant to turn me against Christianity.
I’ve mentioned that part of the visual attack on me has been to expose me to eerie, dreary images of people in silhouette, lit from behind. There’s one on Kevin Andrew Walker’s Twitter page. There was one in the San Francisco State student film, “Trigger” starring my TEFL classmate, Miyako Abe all by her lonesome. I’ve seen them elsewhere. I think I may have also mentioned something about a “gloomy forest” appearing both in John T. Gestapo’s book, “Loneliness,” and on Bill Doggett’s business card. Recently, after taking another look at Soundgarden’s album-cover art (shown here), I had to reconsider their work. The covers for Superunknown and Upside were done by photographer, Kevin Westenberg. It doesn’t take more than a cursory examination of Westenberg’s website to see the stark, lonely quality of his many of his images: http://www.kevinwestenberg.com/. According to Wikipedia, two other titles were considered for Upside, “Mr. Bunchy Pants,” and “Comin’ At Ya.”
Another image I haven’t mentioned until now, but have suspected is related to all of this, is something that kind of looks like the round, sharp-edged working part of a grinder. I noticed quick shots of one in the film, “Event Horizon,” written by Walker. I've seen them elsewhere. Described on the Wikipedia page as a “jagged, cyclone-like design,” the image on the cover of Badmotorfinger, designed by Mark Dancey, is much in the same vein. Check out Dancey’s website: http://markdancey.com/. His surreal art is downright disturbing. Also, you may recall a video I posted recently in which I discuss visualizations in Windows Media Player, one of which is called “Event Horizon.” I talked about how they’re intended to hypnotize. Another one I covered in the video, shown here, is called “Cominatcha.”
Chad Higgins had a passing interest in music with Satanic themes. The only Grateful Dead song I ever heard him play was “Friend of the Devil.” He’s proud of a high school paper he wrote on Satanic themes in the music of The Rolling Stones. Bob Higgins is a big Rolling Stones fan. Bob and I used to talk about music a lot. In a discussion about Soundgarden, I said Badmotorfinger is way better than Down on the Upside, which I may have borrowed from him. He said he didn’t like Badmotorfinger because it’s “amelodic,” which is ridiculous. Bob had the tablature book for Upside which he just gave to me one day…and never asked for it back. Bob made a trip to San Francisco a few years ago and tried very hard to convince me that I’m insane.
It all must be a coincidence, or, perhaps, that pesky paranoid-schizophrenia of mine again.
Are you familiar with the Soungarden song, “Limo Wreck,” tucked away neatly on Superunkown, released in 1994? I hear the word wreck in there a few times, but I don’t hear anything about a limousine. Strange.
Please, excuse the layout issues in this post. Either blogger or my computer or probably a both can be downright impossible when I'm trying to add images to my posts. My computer always moves at a snail's pace, but when I'm trying to do pics in posts, it can be reallllly, oh, shall I say, frustrating?