A while ago I did a bunch of posts on the topic of music. I haven’t done a post on this topic in a while, and as I did a podcast with a friend in dutch (you can listen to it here) on the topic of Grunge I figured I would share the songs that were played during the podcast and the stories around these songs with you. Some of you will know this already, but I have always been a big fan of alternative music. Metal, punk, hardcore-pun, metalcore, thrash metal, death metal, etc. I also listen to other styles though, and grunge is one of them. I started listening to grunge around 1989 probably, the very early days and got acquainted with it through this album by Nirvana called Bleach. Grunge back then wasn’t that popular just yet, but it wouldn’t take too long before it took off massively. Surprisingly to many, as grunge is pretty raw and dark, and can also come across chaotic at times.
For this podcast, I was asked to create a list of my five or six favorite songs in a specific genre and preferably from different bands. Which wasn’t too difficult as there are many great grunge bands around. I wanted to share these songs with you as well. I created a simple Spotify playlist with the songs featured in this podcast but I also want to provide the reason I picked these tracks. I also added the Youtube videos after each song below, for those who prefer to watch the videos.
If anyone has any recommended bands or songs, just drop them in the comment section, always interested in expanding my horizon.
The first song is a song by Pearl Jam called State of Love and Trust. Pearl Jam’s album Ten is probably one of my favorite albums from the 90s. That whole album just breaths rock/grunge from start to finish. State of Love and Trust, however, was not on that album, although it does have the same vibe as the songs on Ten. It probably also is my favorite Pearl Jam song. You may wonder why it has the same vibe while it isn’t on the album, well this song was recorded and written during the same timeframe, it just wasn’t released as part of the Ten release but was a song for a movie called Singles. The interesting thing about the track is that there are two versions, and I recommend you to listen to both, there’s one version with drummer Dave Krusen, and one with drummer Dave Abbruzzese. The one by Krusen sounds a bit trashier, while the one by Abbruzzese is a bit faster. Both versions are awesome though. The youtube video below is the live version as there’s no video clip.
The second song on the list is Hunger Strike by Temple of the Dog. Temple of the Dog is formed out of members of various other bands and was started as a tribute to the vocalist of Mother Love Bone who died of an overdose. I love this song because it is a duet between Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), but originally it wasn’t intended to be a duet. Eddie Vedder was asked to join during the recordings when Chris Cornell had trouble recording certain parts of the song. It is my favorite song of the album, and it was recently covered by Chris Cornell’s daughter Toni. Watch that version as well if you have some time on your hands…
Next on the list is Heart-Shaped Box by Nirvana. I personally feel that every single grunge playlist needs to have at least one Nirvana track. This is the band that literally introduced grunge to the world. Although there were various bands playing grunge before Nirvana, none of them were as successful as Nirvana was (and still is). This song is from my favorite album called In Utero. The album came out after the hit album Nevermind and probably shocked a lot of people. Instead of the more clean sound that Nevermind had, In Utero was raw, and that is probably also why I really like it.
Whenever Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s name comes up, the name Courtney Love also comes to mind as she was married to Kurt. Courtney was part (or was) of the band called Hole, and a lot of people at the time felt that Hole was mainly getting attention because of that Nirvana/Cobain connection. I don’t agree with that. If you listen to their album Live Through This, and especially the song Doll Parts, you realize that this is much more than just lifting on the success of Nirvana. The song is about the early days of the relationship between Kurt and Courtney and has that characteristic Hole sound with the distinct sound of Courtney Love’s vocals.
One of the bands I never really was in to was Melvins, well I did listen to them but they simply weren’t my favorite band in this genre. They did however undeniably influence the grunge scene, and many other genres as well. They also released an insane amount of albums so it wasn’t easy to pick a song. I picked a song called Night Goat as it is dark, sludgy, doom, and grunge at the same time. Definitely my favorite Melvins song. It just sounds scary and you simply can’t play it loud enough. The video below is a live version, but the quality is great.
Last but not least is Outshined by Soundgarden. The vocals by Chris Cornell are brilliant on this track, but what stands out most are the lyrics. I think everyone who has heard this song will be able to sing along the famous sentence: “looking California and feeling Minnesota”. It is a shame
I hope you enjoyed the list and some of the backstories.