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What Is Soundgarden’s ‘4th of July’ Really About?

todayJuly 4, 2024 3

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What is Soundgarden’s “4th of July” really about?Typically, the Fourth of July and fireworks are associated with summer and positive feelings, but the song, featured on Soundgarden’s 1994 magnum opus Superunknown, is one of their darkest and doomiest.”I heard it in the wind / And I saw it in the sky / I thought it was the end / I thought it was the Fourth of July,” Chris Cornell sings in the chorus, and the droning music actually sounds like the end of the world.Hardcore fans may be aware of what inspired Cornell to write such catastrophic lyrics — but for newcomers or more casual listeners, here’s the story of Soundgarden’s “4th of July.”An Acid Trip Inspired the Lyrics to ‘4th of July’In 1994, Cornell told RIP Magazine [via Alt77] that a bad experience on LSD inspired the lyrics for the song.”One time I was on acid, and there were voices 10 feet behind my head. The whole time I’d be walking, they’d be talking behind me. It actually made me feel good because I felt like I was with some people. At one point I was looking back, and I saw that one person was wearing a black shirt and jeans, and the other person was wearing a red shirt,” he recalled.READ MORE: The Tentative Songs From Soundgarden’s Unreleased Album With Chris Cornell”They were always there. It was kinda like a dream, though, where I’d wake up and look and focus once in a while and realize there was no one there. I’d go, ‘Oh, fuck, I’m hearing voices.’ ‘4th of July’ is pretty much about that day. You wouldn’t get that if you read it. It doesn’t read like, ‘Woke up, dropped some acid, got into the car and went to the Indian reservation.”No, it doesn’t.The Music in Soundgarden’s ‘4th of July’Guitarist Kim Thayil explained the band’s writing process for “4th of July” in a commentary edition of Superunknown. He noted that he used heavier guitar strings to create the sludgy guitar tone.”This was a difficult song to pull off live because of its tuning,” he admitted. “It’s an amazing song, it’s fun to play live and it has this incredibly strong and dark sort of presence to it.”Soundgarden, “4th of July”Top 30 Grunge Albums of All Time

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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