SOUNDGARDEN – The fifth studio album and platinum selling Down On The Upside was released back in November of 1996, via A&M Records. Already super fond of Soundgarden, I bought this album (on cassette) back in 1996 and still own it to this day. Last weekend I finally upgraded my ownership of Down On The Upside to CD. I bought it at Super Walmart for $5 (U.S.). Whoa! What took me so long to upgrade this Soundgarden classic? I can’t even answer that question myself. File that question in Stone’s mystery folder and carry on my wayward son.
Back in 1996 I was a traveling printing salesman. Yes, you read that correctly. I need to correct that, I was a traveling printing salesman whore. Why use the word whore? Well, my customers treated me like shit regardless of my stellar customer service; while the various owners I worked for only gave a shit about my contacts and how much money they were worth. As a printing salesman, my self-image was at an all-time low; existing for the sole purpose to make someone else a ton of money, while making corporate print buyers look like winners of the week.
Why have I brought up this part of my past, in the middle of a very cool Soundgarden post? The reason is simple. Down On The Upside got me through (at least) three years of a profession that drained my spirit, while driving around all of New England. I’m serious about that. That Soundgarden cassette was my best friend on many, many lonely drives while being a white-collar punching bag.
I remember once, a jack-ass V.P. of my biggest client bellowing aloud, as I entered the room: “here come’s just another slimy salesman.” What an asshole that guy was. A genuine narcistic scum bag. Nice greeting to start my day, with a customer I essentially sacrificed my soul for. That dumb ass had an “I’m an ABBA fan” written all over his face every time I saw him as well.
I remember leaving the building of that customer, on that God forsaken day, shaking my head in disgust. Once I started up my Ford Contour, I slapped in my Down On The Upside cassette and cranked up Pretty Noose… then Rhinosaur… then Zero Chance… and Soundgarden had me snickering all the way down the overstuffed highway to hell… or next disloyal customer, if you will.
Believe me, there were many other cassettes in my Contour while I served time as a printing salesman. Too many bands and titles to mention. It’s just that this Soundgarden album kept me afloat and had me realizing that it was Rock ‘N Roll that poured through my veins and soul… and not some stupid ass print-sales career. Whatever Soundgarden did with tweaking their musical nuances on Down On The Upside, they did it with a mystical wand.
From the very first time I heard Soundgarden, I recognized an attitude in their sound that beckoned me to become a fan. Is it Chris Cornell’s vocals? Can it be Kim Thayil’s guitar tones? The totality of Soundgarden’s sound is so unique, I never could even classify them as a “Grunge only” band. Hell no. There’s no question that Soundgarden did originate from the birth place of Grunge and pioneered an entirely new Rock movement. At the end of my Metal day, this band has and always will kick my ass with their hard and heavy Rock style and that’s all that matters to me.
It feels F’n grand to get this (silly) part of my life off of my chest today. No matter how I slice it, I can relate segments and experiences of my life to Rock ‘N Roll… and how it has and will forever save my Rockin’ soul. Thank you Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron. Metal be thy name.
* For more info on SOUNDGARDEN, click on the links below!
LONG LIVE SOUNDGARDEN.