Album: Down on the Upside
. . .
“Burden in My Hand” starts with just Chris Cornell singing over a couple of guitars, one of which I swear to god is a piano, except nowhere in the credits is there any mention of a piano, so I guess it has something to do with the jauntiness of the guitars, even without any real drums.
Follow me into the desert
As thirsty as you are
Crack a smile and cut your mouth
And drown in alcohol
‘Cause down below the truth is lying
Beneath the riverbed
So quench yourself and drink the water
That flows below her head
Oh no, there she goes
Out in the sunshine
The sun is mine
The sun is mine
As this point, a Matt Cameron drum roll explodes “Burden in My Hand” into technicolor light, some guitars getting suitably fuzzy and others dancing on the horizon, as Cornell reveals that he’s singing a big-ass hooky murder ballad that Kim Thayill compared to “Hey Joe.”
I shot my love today, would you cry for me?
I lost my head again, would you lie for me?
Uh, no. But please do go on, especially with the funky-adjacent drums Cameron is playing on those verses — there’s a fast, sneaky roll he squeezes at some point that’s as terrific as it is unexpected — and all of those guitars. No solo, though, just the verses and choruses, and a quick breakdown bridge that provides the title.
It’s just a burden in my hand
It’s just an anchor on my heart
It’s just a tumor in my head
And I’m in the dark
BTW, this is all as catchy as fuck, like a lost classic rock song from 1973 that reached the lower reaches of the top 40 charts, back when hard rock bands could actually do that. Not as catchy as “Black Hole Sun,” mind you, but it did do exactly the same thing that “Black Hole Sun” did: topping the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart while making it to #2 on their Alt Rock chart.
Which means, technically, “Burden in My Hand” was as big as “Black Hole Sun.” Just not culturally. Which is too bad, because it remains a helluva song on every level.
“Burden in My Hand” Official Music Video
“Burden in My Hand” live on MTV, 1996
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