Spoonman

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"Spoonman"
Spoonman.jpg
Single by Soundgarden
from the album Superunknown
B-side "Cold Bitch"
ReleasedFebruary 15, 1994
Format CD single, cassette, vinyl
RecordedJuly–September 1993 at Bad Animals Studio, Seattle, Washington
Genre
Length4:06
Label A&M
Songwriter(s) Chris Cornell
Producer(s) Michael Beinhorn, Soundgarden
Soundgarden singles chronology
"Rusty Cage"
(1992)
"Spoonman"
(1994)
"The Day I Tried to Live"
(1994)

"Spoonman" is a song by American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, "Spoonman" was released on February 15, 1994 as the first single from the band's fourth studio album, Superunknown (1994). "Spoonman" is often credited as one of the songs that launched Soundgarden's career into the mainstream. The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number nine on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. A remixed version of the song by Steve Fisk appears on the "Black Hole Sun" and "My Wave" singles. The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides and the 2010 compilation album Telephantasm .

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Soundgarden American grunge rock band

Soundgarden was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron became the band's full-time drummer in 1986, while bassist Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto in 1990. The band dissolved in 1997 and re-formed in 2010. Following Cornell's suicide in 2017 and a year of uncertainty of the band's future, Thayil declared in an October 2018 interview with Seattle Times that they would not continue as Soundgarden; they did, however, reunite in January 2019 for a one-off concert in tribute to Cornell.

Chris Cornell American singer-songwriter, musician

Christopher John Cornell was an American musician, singer and songwriter. He was best known as the lead vocalist for the rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave. Cornell was also known for his numerous solo works and soundtrack contributions since 1991, and as the founder and frontman for Temple of the Dog, the one-off tribute band dedicated to his late friend Andrew Wood.

Contents

Origin and recording

"Spoonman" was originally written for the soundtrack to the 1992 film Singles . At this time, Soundgarden, along with fellow alternative rock band Pearl Jam, was working on the soundtrack for the film. Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament had been put in charge of creating the name for a fictional band that would appear in the film. Before finally choosing Citizen Dick for its name, Ament had compiled a list of potential names which included the name "Spoonman". The name was inspired by Artis the Spoonman, a street performer from Santa Cruz, California and later Seattle, Washington, who plays music with a set of spoons. [3] Soundgarden vocalist and songwriter Chris Cornell eventually used the names on the list to create songs for the film. [3] "Spoonman" was among these, and an acoustic version was created from it. [3] This early version of the song can be heard during a scene in the film in which a poster advertising a Citizen Dick show is stapled to a lightpost. [3]

<i>Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack</i> 1992 soundtrack album by various artists

Singles is the original soundtrack album to the film Singles, primarily focused on the ascendant Seattle grunge scene of the early 1990s. It also features contributions from Minneapolis's Paul Westerberg, Chicago's The Smashing Pumpkins, and past Seattle rockers Jimi Hendrix and The Lovemongers. It was released on June 30, 1992. The album has been certified two times platinum by the RIAA in the United States.

<i>Singles</i> (1992 film) 1992 American romantic comedy by Cameron Crowe

Singles is a 1992 American romantic comedy film written, co-produced, and directed by Cameron Crowe, and starring Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, and Matt Dillon.

Alternative rock is a style of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1980s. In this instance, the word "alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from mainstream rock music. The term's original meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by their collective debt to either the musical style or simply the independent, DIY ethos of punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the groundwork for alternative music. At times, "alternative" has been used as a catch-all description for music from underground rock artists that receives mainstream recognition, or for any music, whether rock or not, that is seen to be descended from punk rock. Although the genre evolved in the late 1970s and 1980s, music anticipating the sound of the genre can be found as early as the 1960s, with bands such as The Velvet Underground.

Rather than just leave the song on the film's soundtrack, Soundgarden began working on an electric version of "Spoonman". The song's inspiration, Artis the Spoonman, played a prominent role in the song itself. The final version of the song featured Artis the Spoonman playing his spoons as part of the song's bridge. Drummer Matt Cameron also plays pots and pans on the song. [4] Bassist Ben Shepherd performs backing vocals on the song.

Matt Cameron American drummer

Matthew David Cameron is an American musician who currently serves as the drummer for Pearl Jam. After getting his start with the Seattle, Washington-based bands Bam Bam and Skin Yard, he first gained fame as the drummer for Soundgarden, which he joined in 1986, appeared on every studio album, and remained in until the band's break-up in 1997. In 1998, Cameron was invited to play on Pearl Jam's U.S. Yield Tour. He soon became a permanent member and has remained in the band ever since. In 2010, Soundgarden reunited, and Cameron remained with them until the death of Soundgarden's lead singer Chris Cornell on May 18, 2017.

Hunter Benedict Shepherd is an American musician best known as the bassist in the rock band Soundgarden from 1990 to 2019.

Backing vocalist singer who provides vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists

Backing vocalists or backup singers are singers who provide vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists. In some cases, a backing vocalist may sing alone as a lead-in to the main vocalist's entry or to sing a counter-melody. Backing vocalists are used in a broad range of popular music, traditional music and world music styles.

Composition

"Spoonman" was performed in drop D tuning. [5] The main riff was written in septuple meter, in 7
4
time. The chorus is 4
4
and part of the spoon solo is in 3
4
. Guitarist Kim Thayil has said that Soundgarden usually did not consider the time signature of a song until after the band had written it, and said that the use of odd meters was "a total accident". [5]

Drop D tuning

Drop D tuning is an alternative form of guitar tuning in which the lowest (sixth) string is tuned down from the usual E of standard tuning by one whole step to D. Drop D tuning, as well as other lowered altered tunings, are often used with the electric guitar in heavy metal music. It is also used in blues, country, folk, and classical guitar.

Septuple meter

Septuple meter or septuple time is a meter with each bar divided into 7 notes of equal duration, usually 7
4
or 7
8
. The stress pattern can be 2+2+3, 3+2+2, or occasionally 2+3+2, although a survey of certain forms of mostly American popular music suggests that 2+2+3 is the most common among these three in these styles.

Kim Thayil American musician

Kim A. Thayil is an American musician best known as the lead guitarist of the Seattle-based rock band Soundgarden, which he cofounded with singer Chris Cornell and bassist Hiro Yamamoto in 1984. Thayil was named the 100th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone in 2010 and the 67th greatest guitarist of all time by SPIN in 2012.

Lyrics

Cornell on "Spoonman":

Release and reception

The band would play "Spoonman" while on its 1993 tour with Neil Young. [7] With hype building around the band's upcoming album Superunknown, Soundgarden released the single a month before the album's release. The song was released as a single in 1994 with a previously unreleased B-side titled "Exit Stonehenge". On the choice of "Spoonman" as the album's first single, Shepherd called it a "great first choice," adding that "it just jumps out at you instantly." Shepherd said, "You know how you listen to a record and there is one song that literally seems to leap out of the speakers—well, "Spoonman" did that to me." [8] Shortly after the single's release, the song became widely popular, reaching high positions on rock charts. The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number nine on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. At the 1995 Grammy Awards, "Spoonman" received the award for Best Metal Performance. [9]

Neil Young Canadian singer-songwriter

Neil Percival Young, is a Canadian singer-songwriter. After embarking on a music career in the 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and others. Young had released two solo albums and three as a member of Buffalo Springfield by the time he joined Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1969. From his early solo albums and those with his backing band Crazy Horse, Young has recorded a steady stream of studio and live albums, sometimes warring with his recording company along the way.

A-side and B-side the two sides of 78, 45, and 33 1/3 rpm phonograph records and cassette tapes

The terms A-side and B-side refer to the two sides of 78, 45, and 33​13 rpm phonograph records, or cassettes, whether singles, extended plays (EPs), or long-playing (LP) records. The A-side usually featured the recording that the artist, record producer, or the record company intended to receive the initial promotional effort and then receive radio airplay, hopefully, to become a "hit" record. The B-side is a secondary recording that has a history of its own: some artists released B-sides that were considered as strong as the A-side and became hits in their own right. Others took the opposite approach: producer Phil Spector was in the habit of filling B-sides with on-the-spot instrumentals that no one would confuse with the A-side. With this practice, Spector was assured that airplay was focused on the side he wanted to be the hit side.

Alternative Songs is a music chart in the United States that has appeared in Billboard magazine since September 10, 1988. It lists the 40 most-played songs on alternative and modern rock radio stations. The chart was introduced as a companion to the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and its creation was prompted by the explosion of alternative music on American radio in the late 1980s. During the first several years of the chart, it regularly featured music that did not receive commercial radio airplay anywhere but on a few modern rock and college rock radio stations. This included many electronic and post-punk artists. Gradually, as alternative rock became more "mainstream", the Alternative Songs and Mainstream Rock Songs charts began featuring more of the same songs. However, the formats would differentiate themselves by the late 2000s. Today, the Alternative Songs chart favors more indie rock, indie pop, and synth-pop bands while the Mainstream Rock Songs chart favors more alternative rock, hard rock, and heavy metal music.

Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In Canada, the song reached number 12 on the Canadian Singles Chart. "Spoonman" reached the UK Top 20 and would peak at number 23 on the Australian Singles Chart. "Spoonman" reached the top 30 in Australia and Ireland and was a top ten success in New Zealand.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

"Spoonman" appears in the 2001 video game ATV Offroad Fury for the PlayStation 2. [10] The song is also featured in the 2008 video games Battle of the Bands , [11] Rock Band 2 , [12] and as a cover in Rock Revolution . [13] The following year the song also appeared on the soundtrack for the PSP game Rock Band Unplugged , which included a number of tracks from Rock Band 2. Despite the inclusion on the Unplugged track list, Spoonman did not export from Rock Band 2 to Rock Band 3 due to licensing conflicts. It appeared again on the track list of the 2012 downloadable game Rock Band Blitz and became playable in Rock Band 3 as part of the Blitz song pack. The song is also available as downloadable content for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock as part of the Telephantasm album pack, and likewise available as downloadable content for Fantasia: Music Evolved .

Music video

The music video for "Spoonman" was directed by Jeffrey Plansker (under the alias John Smithey). [14] The video also features Artis prominently, making him the focus of the video instead of the band. The band members are shown only in black-and-white still photographs. The video was released in February 1994. [15]

In an interview with Hit Parader magazine in 1994, Chris Cornell said about the music video:

I think we were fairly smart with "Spoonman" in that you really don't see us that much in the video. You see various pictures of us, but it's not quite the same as having us in your living room all the time. We're trying to maintain some degree of mystique about Soundgarden, I guess. I remember back when I was a kid, long before MTV, and the only way to see my favorite bands was to go to their concerts. It was an incredible experience. MTV has helped a lot of bands, but they've also helped rob a lot of groups of that special mystique. It's tough when you can see a great rock band on TV one second, then hit the clicker and be watching a soap opera or a sitcom the next. That's what rock and roll has become for some people. [16]

Track listing

All songs written by Chris Cornell, except where noted:

CD (Europe) and 12" Vinyl (Europe)
  1. "Spoonman" – 4:06
  2. "Fresh Tendrils" (Matt Cameron, Cornell) – 4:16
  3. "Cold Bitch" – 5:01
  4. "Exit Stonehenge" (Cameron, Cornell, Ben Shepherd, Kim Thayil) – 1:19
Cassette (UK) and 7" Vinyl (UK)
  1. "Spoonman" – 4:06
  2. "Fresh Tendrils" (Cameron, Cornell) – 4:16
Promotional CD (US)
  1. "Spoonman" (edit) – 3:50
  2. "Spoonman" – 4:06
CD (Germany)
  1. "Spoonman" (edit) – 3:51
  2. "Cold Bitch" – 5:11
  3. "Exit Stonehenge" (Cameron, Cornell, Shepherd, Thayil) – 1:19
Promotional 12" Vinyl (UK)
  1. "Spoonman" – 4:06
CD (Australia and Canada)
  1. "Spoonman" – 4:06
  2. "Cold Bitch" – 5:01

Chart positions

Chart (1994)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA) [17] 23
Canada Top Singles ( RPM ) [18] 12
European Hot 100 Singles (Music & Media) [19] 47
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista) [20] 8
Ireland (IRMA) [21] 23
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) [22] 10
Netherlands (Single Top 100) [23] 37
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) [24] 37
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [25] 20
US Mainstream Rock ( Billboard ) [26] 3
US Alternative Songs ( Billboard ) [27] 9
Chart (2017)Peak
position
US Hot Rock Songs ( Billboard ) [28] 18
US Rock Digital Song Sales ( Billboard ) [29] 11

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Artis the Spoonman is an American street performer and musician from Seattle, Washington, who uses spoons as a musical instrument.

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