“What You Are” by Audioslave

What the title of this song (“What You Are”) leads us to, as used therein, is the concept of the vocalist being overly willing to transform himself into the image of the addressee. And what that idea entails in more practical terms is that he has gone above and beyond the call of duty to do whatever it is this person desires, even becoming the addressee’s “slave” in the process.

But now, it’s like the narrator has had enough. And no, his gripe is not based on realizing he is a tool of the addressee. Being this person’s “slave” seems to be a reality he’s content with in and of itself. Rather his beef is that even after subjugating himself so, this individual still is not content with his performance. Indeed, Chris further acknowledges that if he were to bounce, then the addressee would simply go about promptly replacing him.

And as it tends to be with the music industry, it’s easy to presume that said addressee is a romantic interest, i.e. the singer’s unappreciative girlfriend. However, as you can deem based on the above explanation, there are a number of different types of relationships this type of dynamic can be applied to. But the song’s general implication is that that the addressee would be someone who the singer is close to in a social sense.

Lyrics of "What You Are" by Audioslave


Audioslave was what in the world of music is referred to as a supergroup, i.e. a band consisting of members from other outfits that have beforehand respectively proved viable. And as for Audioslave its instrumentalists – Tim Commerford, Tom Morello and Bard Wilk – had already made a name for themselves prior as participants in the 1990s rock group Rage Against the Machine (RATM). 

Meanwhile the late Chris Cornell (1964-2017) was concurrently down with one of RATM’s contemporaries, Soundgarden. But to note, both of those acts were on hiatus at the turn of the century and throughout most of the aughts, i.e. when Audioslave was created and active.

Audioslave got around to dropping three studio albums between 2002 and 2006. And the song we’re reviewing today was released as part of their debut effort, which itself is entitled Audioslave, on 19 November 2002.  And it was put out by two of the biggest labels in the game, Epic Records and Interscope Records.

The aforementioned quartet of musicians that made up Audioslave are individually credited as the writers of “What You Are”. And its producer is none other than the prolific Rick Rubin, who had the band’s back during their early goings.

“What You Are” appeared on a few Billboard lists and in the process broke the top 10 of the US Mainstream Rock chart.

What You Are

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