Dedicated to those songs that I can't stop playing, humming, or thinking about; the 4+ minutes you fall head-over-heels in love with. Past instances have included Outkast's "Dracula's Wedding," David Bowie's "Starman" and The Clash's "Guns on the Roof."
Soundgarden belongs completely to my college years. I discovered them early in my freshman year (late for the band) when "Black Hole Sun" was getting major play, the band's hey-day was almost entirely contained to this period, and the group broke up my junior year. They were one of the few bands to get me excited for a musical appearance on Saturday Night Live as well as the first contemporary band whose demise I mourned. I bought their posthumous greatest hits CD despite owning most of the previously available tracks because this disc came with the yet-unreleased "Bleed Together." Though their musicianship certainly grew as they went on, their general purpose never wavered: they started out a heavy band and ended a heavy band.
I've thought they were great since I first laid ears upon them, but I've often felt alone in this feeling. It may be their timing, or their metal roots, or even just the fact that they weren't Nirvana or Pearl Jam, but finding other dedicated Soundgarden fans has always proved difficult. I remember sophomore year getting really excited at a small party when I was not only put in charge of music selection, but the collection I was supposed to pull from had "Superunknown." I chose "The Day I Tried To Live." Unwise. Nobody wants to party to Soundgarden because they are a listener's band. They are a band that thrives in an intimate relationship with the listener, which is odd, because they are a loud group. Maybe I just don't have the right kind of friends, or maybe they just don't have the right kind of speakers.
"Blow Up The Outside World" was Soundgarden's final album's middle section dirge rocker, a semi-standard grunge-era style with quietish lyrics, LOUD CHORUS and back again. Though it doesn't work on large groups, the song's invitation to screaming along does wonders for an individual. If you're one person singing "Blow Up The Outside World" over and over again, especially with occasional Cornell voice crack, you will get some weird looks and raise concerns. However, if you got a group of people together singing along, then you'd be talking potential police intervention. Safety out of numbers I suppose.
Make no mistake, I do not wish to blow up the outside anything. I've never been that upset, but what bands like Soundgarden provide is an opportunity to act that upset. When you're feeling down, and you just want to be pissed, but "Nothing seems to kill" you, no matter how hard you try. Your anger requires a defiant, screw-off rant, and that's just what this song is. The singer's not only a little depressed at his predictable indestructibility, but he seems to be daring someone, anyone, to test it. It's normally referred to as a death wish, which in some bizarre way is kind of sexy. Not have-sex-with-that-guy sexy, but attractive sexy. Cool sexy. Leone westerns possess the same kind of sexy, as do the Frank Miller's Batman stories. These are driven, hardened characters without fear. They've made peace with their own situation, but they don't have to be happy about it, and what are you smiling at?
"Blow Up's" sexiness comes through with striking clarity when you air guitar to it. It's all hard hits and face grunts. Not grunts of pain, but the pursed lips, head nods, Bronson eyes grunts that metal more than any other genre calls for. It's a step up from simple head banging. This is complete musical assimilation. Soundgarden's seemingly inability to create legions of visible fans creates the illusion that you, yourself, are alone. Your friends don't get it. Your girlfriend doesn't get it. You know this, and you are not one of them. "They" are the people who don't understand. You belong to something else and they don't get it. They have their groups and their fun and their girls and their futures. They are kidding themselves. You are a sophomore. You are alone. You are going to show them all. You'd really like to, anyway.