The first time I heard it was in late 1991 in Brad Swiniarski’s Dodge Daytona. That’s pretty bold of Dodge to name their shittiest car after the world’s most famous Nascar race. Or were they being funny naming it after the world’s worst spring break destination. The Dodge Daytona was like the drunk shirtless rapey frat boy who ages really poorly. This particular Daytona might have even been a soft top. I know, just when you were thinking it couldn’t get more awesome.
Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger is, to me, the best album ever made. Yes, I understand there are other great albums, Led Zeppelin IV ( I know, it’s technically unnamed), Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street, Guns and Roses Appetite for Destruction, Gloria Estafan’s Greatest Hits. When Brad played Badmotorfinger (on cassette), I felt how those kids at Jesus Camp must feel. I thought, “This is where I fit in.” It was as if I had been searching my whole life for something that had meaning. For some people it’s a book, for some it’s religion, and for others it’s their first trip to “Chaps” or “Meow Mix.” I know it makes me seem simple, that one of my first feelings of belonging came from an album, but I didn’t realize that music could sound so fucking awesome. Full disclosure – I was phenomenally stoned when I first heard it. …I just spent 2 minutes trying to think of a cooler word than “stoned.” I struck out.
It was like a friendly devil had made an album. It was so awesomely heavy and dark, but somehow inviting, like chasing a Percoset with a shot of Jack. I felt a gentle rage come over me, like I wanted to kill someone in a pillow fight. There’s a line in the song “Searching with my Good Eye Closed” where Chris Cornell’s distorted voice is heard saying, “And the devil says.” I think I listened to that 40 times, just rewinding it over and over. This was during a time when I would coerce people to listen to me read from the book of revelations. I wasn’t a satanist at all, I just experienced a weird confluence of Soungarden and The Omen all in the course of 3 days. It was enough to make a young man turn to the dark side.
If your only experience with Soundgarden is Black Hole Sun or some other awful attempt at a hit, then you’re really missing out. I can still listen to “Outshined” and want to get stoned in a Daytona and top it out at 78 mph.