“Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden
Let it be known from the onset that if a listener decides to attribute a particular meaning to the lyrics of “Black Hole Sun”, that is his or her prerogative. Yet as for the writer himself, he did not mean for this song to have any type of particular meaning. Rather, the lyrics are more of just a hodge–podge of random musings that he put together after hearing the phrase “black hole sun”, which he thought sounded cool. So the wording may sound terribly-deep at certain points of the song. But Chris Cornell himself never meant for them to be taken literally.
So on that note, we are not going to try to derive an understanding from this tune which may not actually be present. Yes, there is at least one passage which he ascribed a palpable explanation to. And that is when he says “times are gone for honest men”. What he was actually speaking to was the state of the music industry, which he described as being a cut-throat profession. But according to Cornell’s overall explanation of the lyrics, what they represent is him “playing with words for words’ sake”.
So yes, with “Black Hole Sun” we do in fact have an interesting tune on our hands, indeed Soundgarden’s signature song. And whereas comprehensively it possesses a brooding tone, for the most part its lyrical interpretation is very much left in the hands of the listener.
“Black hole sun, won’t you come?”
Facts about “Black Hole Sun”
“Black Hole Sun” was written by Soundgarden’s lead singer, the late Chris Cornell (1964-2017). He conceptualized the tune while driving home from work one day after mishearing a news anchor utter the words “black hole sun”. Moreover, upon actually sitting down to write it, the song only took him approximately 15 minutes to pen.
The track was originally released, by A&M Records, as part of Soundgarden’s fourth-studio album, which is entitled “Superunknown”. It was the third single from that project and was officially dropped on 4 May 1994.
The entire band produced this song in conjunction with Michael Beinhorn. And it went on to become what many people consider to be Soundgarden’s signature tune. For instance, it took home a Grammy Award in 1995 in the category of Best Hard Rock Performance. Moreover it topped Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart and also was placed at number one on their year-end Alternative Songs chart for 1994. Outside of the US, it also charted in 15 other nations, including making an appearance on the UK Singles Chart and reaching number 1 in Iceland. And “Black Hole Sun” also managed to be certified Gold in Australia.
The track’s music video, which was directed by Howard Greenhalgh, also proved to be a hit. For instance in 1994 it won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Metal/Hard Rock Video.
Guns N’ Rose, Metallica and others performed this track during a posthumous tribute to Chris in 2017. And interesting to note is that Weird Al Yankovic also parodied the tune in 1996.