What Does Soundgarden Sound Like To You?

photo by Matthew B. Thompson (view set)

With the death of Chris Cornell yesteray, we asked KEXP DJs to stop and reflect: “What does Soundgarden sound like to you?” Here are some of their answers below. Let us know what the band sounds like to you in the comments below.

John Richards, host of The Morning Show:

Listening to Soundgarden and Chris’ voice sounds like Seattle to me. They are Seattle.

Darek Mazzone, host of Wo’Pop:

As with most of my city I awoke to the news that Chris Cornell passed last night. Fuck. Both Amy and I were stunned in the morning as John Richards confirmed. Wow. No.

This was the sound of Seattle in the early ’90s, a real tangible manifestation of what the city felt, smelled, vibrated on. On Monday, I was at KEXP and Cheryl Waters played an early Soundgarden song and his voice cutting through the air created a dimensional portal for me that for a second felt like Capitol Hill in ’93. Dirtier, rawer, closer to the forest, cheaper, undiscovered by tech. I’m in line at Café Paradiso with him waiting for a coffee that would manifest the day’s art and experiments. RIP.


Owen Murphy, producer of The Morning Show:

Soundgarden sounds like the synthesis of our generation’s love of multiple genres of music; new wave, punk, metal, etc. Bur more importantly, rock. You can not help but rock when their songs kick in. They were the first concert I ever put on (at the University of Minnesota) and I loved them since I heard the first seconds of “Flower,” and love them more now. Rest in peace, Chris, and love to his friends and family from our KEXP family.

Reeves Richards, DJ:

Soundgarden sounds like one of the few great bands I listened to as a misguided middle-schooler still listening to the very, very bad top 40 in the late ’90s/early 2000s with Casey Kasem on the radio. I remember the first time I saw the music video for “Black Hole Sun,” and thinking, “This band is pretty cool.”

Quilty 3000, DJ:

The first time I heard Soundgarden was when I was assistant manager at Tracks in White Oaks Mall in Springfield, IL. It was a new store that I helped to open in August of 1989. Louder Than Love came out a week after the store opened. It was in the metal section, which is a genre that I don’t dabble in much, but one night I was closing with two guys who were big metal heads. They popped in the “clean” in-store play cassette of Louder Than Love (it excluded “Gun” and “Big Dumb Sex”). The store had a super sweet sound system that during the day couldn’t be turned up past level three, but that night we decided to push the limits and cracked it way, way up. I remember standing in the middle of the store with “Hand All Over” so loud that Chris’s wailing voice cut straight through that I could feel it in my chest. It was like being surrounded by a wall of sonic majesty. I went to drop the deposit at the bank at the other end of the mall with Soundgarden reaching everywhere (it was ridiculously loud). As I walked back, with “Full on Kevin’s Mom” getting louder and louder with every step closer to the store, the mall security guy comes up to me. I thought I was busted, but instead he thought it was awesome and wanted to know who it was so he could buy it the next day.

I saw Soundgarden play live only once, at Lollapalooza in 1992 in Bremerton, my first summer in Seattle. Soundgarden sounds to me like my twenties, with the angst and energy of being young and moving into the super unknown.

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5 Comments

  1. Rhea Rainwater
    Posted May 20, 2017 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Soundgarden …. Sounds like a walk in a violent windstorm, brings you back in warmth and drops you in a cold bath.

    Soundgarden sounds like a walk in the woods, a scream from the top of a mountain, a drive in a very fast car. A gallop on a smooth horse or big dumb sex.

    I love a lot of music. Soundgarden os one of the few I have the entire catalog of. Huge fan. Wish May 18th didn’t happen. Thursday was shock. Friday was tears

  2. Alexander
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    Sadness. His music accompanied me since the nineties and helped me growing. Condolences to the whole family and friends.

  3. Craig vint
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Soundgarden sounded like a shared isolation. The emotion of being a teen in the early 90’s. I live on the west coast of Scotland. By all intents a similar place to the Washington Coast. Chris Cornell even said that Glasgow reminded him of home, big cheer on the night but that just brought a tear to my eye. The whole Seattle scene grabbed me and my friends before “grunge” was coined. Some bought Nirvana”s Bleach, others bought Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. I started with Mudhoney and Soundgarden’s Louder than Love. We swapped these album around. They soundtracked our youth forever to sound like hopes, dreams, young love, angst and above all, Kick Ass Music. RIP Chris and thank you. Forever SubPopRockCity!

  4. anais ninja
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Listening to Chris Cornell’s voice was like getting a hot oil massage for my ears.

  5. CJ
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Soundgarden sounds like every day to me. It sounds like driving and cooking and yard work and laundry. Chris’s voice is the only one I listen to when I’m doing those things and living my life. I was at that show at The Fox. My front row seats were my birthday present to myself. I can’t count how many times I’ve seeen him/them. It has been many over the years, and that’s something I had planned on continuing to do for as long as I was able. Chris Cornell was without question my favorite writer, singer and musician. He died on my birthday, and he took a part of me with him.

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