I have to admit that I heard Soundgarden for the very first time in early 1994. I guess it was February when MTV Europe began to show a video that just ruled. A weird guy playing spoons, some photos of strange looking pack of four guys - it was really mystical. And the name of the band was intriguing - Soundgarden - it seemed and heard funny. At this time I was 16. I wasn't any music maniac at all. I didn't owe any cassette or CD (sic!), because my family was relatively poor at that time. My music likes and dislikes were shaped only through radio and music television. From my birth on I liked songs with a good melody line and a powerful vocal. And my favorite instrument was percussion. As a kid I was spending hours hitting pans and pots which pretended my drumkit. And I've been always a little bit different from my contemporaries. It wasn't just religion and my self-scepticism. I wasn't simply interested in those down to earth matters that were banging in my colleagues' heads. After 1989, when the communist party handed over the power to Solidarity at the Round Table, Poland became open for Western culture and music. About the year 1992 the 'grunge wave' came here and Nirvana became very popular among young, restless people. I liked this kind of music but I wasn't any big fan or something. When I heard Soundgarden and was amazed by them I didn't even know that they were from Seattle.
I write all this crap to give you a hint what kind of paranoid human beings become Soundgarden fans.
So as I mentioned I've heard Spoonman and I liked it very much. Days were passing by and so did my memories about this fantastic song. And then came April I think. MTV once again and something which is hard to describe. A guitar intro as magical as orange hills on the video. And then a tall guy with a golden guitar beginning to sing. Yeah, Black Hole Sun was kind of breakthrough I haven't ever heard a better song before. The vocal so strong that force you to scream. Kim's twisted guitar solo and Matt's swirls from cool to furious and hard drumming - all of it was really amusing. Not surprisingly at all it became a hit all around the world and in Poland too. But popularity doesn't mean that people understand the message. Soundgarden's music has always been a bit too much complicated and wide for a regular mortal. The critics had problems with classifying the band to a specific style of music. And for a guy like me, who asks himself daily existential questions finding only sad answers and is so self-analitycal, getting the message correctly was just a piece of cake.
So I finally decided that Superunknown is worth to experience it and I bought the first record in my life. The result was striking. I've listened to it for hundreds of times, every day, sometimes more than once, all the album, only selected songs or all songs but in various order. When I was walking to school I was singing quietly and heard music in my soul. I became hard fan of a band, which I didn't know completely few months earlier. And I like to mention the best video made to a song by Soundgarden - it's The Day I Tried To Live. Flaming guitars, a guy walking on a ceiling, shots of the Puget Sound - this is what's Soundgarden all about.
Superunknown was the runner-up for the title of the best selling foreign LP of 1994 in Poland.
I have to admit honestly that I was really afraid of buying Soundgarden's earlier records (I've learned that such exist as well about the fact that the band was formed a decade earlier). I've heard that Soundgarden was a metal band who gave up their style and started playing softer 'grunge' when it became popular. This opinion turned out to be yet another lie which rule the world when I bought Badmotorfinger. In opinion of many this is their best album.
I guess it was the time when I realized that Soundgarden is for me something more than the favorite band. It's the only one. The only true and nonconformistic music group on planet Earth. You don't meet people with their own and clever mind very often. And in Soundgarden there were four guys who see the world in the proper way (I guess). Chris has the ability of writing beautiful songs and his lyrics are always teaching or touching. Kim is a philosopher, and his guitar solos are unforgettable. Matt is the best drummer in the world and no one could follow or copy his way of playing. And Ben who is the craziest of them added a bit of madness to Soundgarden. Then came the year 1996. I became mature and something similar happened to Soundgarden. April was the month when Down On The Upside was released and I remember that I was sticking around my local music shop for three days or so to get it. And once I finally got it I was nothing but confused. Soundgarden so soft - what's happened guys? But it was only the first impression. You can't listen to Soundgarden just once and tell the truth. You begin to understand their music after 2-3 times. The album is just fabulous.
In September Soundgarden came to Europe and I went to Prague to see them. For a round up of my odyssey and review of the concert go here.
Those days were beautiful and I thought that my life could be over right then. But there were still some Soundgarden records which I'd never heard so I decided to stay alive possibly for a bit longer. Louder Than Love just blew my head off! Hiro played less freaky but far more heavier than Ben. Both Screaming Life and Fopp became my favorites for some time - it happens with every Soundgarden record which hits into my ears.
The year 1997 started with some rumors that guys would visit our country and play at the Jarocin Festival. In the 80's it was the biggest and legendary punk rock festival in Poland. But due to nasty fights and crimes in previous years it was canceled. There will be no Jarocin anymore and Soundgarden won't play in Poland.
And on the 10th April I was watching Polish TV. Suddenly they broke current program to announce that Soundgarden decided to quit playing and start solo careers. My blood pressure rose instantly and my face went red. In the evening I thought of coming days without my favorite band and how to live through. I came to a conclusion that everything has its end and if guys work separately I'm gonna have four records instead of one. Tough I knew it was stupid I cried almost all night long. Soon I made my mind and understood that they know what's best for them. 13 years of doing the same is a hell lot of time. And everyone should do what brings him joy and satisfaction.
Perhaps we'll meet up some day once again.
'There must be something else
There must be something good