Soundgarden vocalist says ‘Spoonman’ was demoed acoustic, but he won’t play it unplugged
Those who head to Chris Cornell’s solo run of shows this winter, billed the “Songbook Tour,” will notice one important Soundgarden nugget missing from his repertoire of songs such as “Black Hole Sun,” “Fell on Black Days” and “Blow Up the Outside World”: eternal grunge rock hit, “Spoonman.”
What is it about “Spoonman” that makes it not right for this tour? According to Cornell, the hard rock vignette just doesn’t work acoustic. “Some songs just lend themselves to [playing acoustic],” Cornell told the Arizona Central. “Some songs were written on an acoustic guitar that nobody would even know, like ‘Spoonman,’ for example. The original demo is just acoustic guitar, but when I do it acoustically as a performance live, I don’t think it really works. It’s not nearly as good as it is when it’s Soundgarden playing. And it doesn’t become a different thing that’s also good in its own right. I’m sure there’s a way to do it that might work, but I haven’t really found that way.”
On the subject of how Chris Cornell — a man known for his gruff, hypnotic voice hammering against a background of electric guitar — grew so fond of performing acoustic, he says it all started during his days in Audioslave. “When I was in Audioslave, I started out doing one or two acoustic songs in the middle of the set, and it ended up being five or six,” he said. “I like that feeling, in the middle of a rock show, to be able to strip it down to one guy and a guitar. And I started doing that on my solo tours even when I had a band out with me. I would do a long acoustic set in the middle…”
Then, a few years back, he did an acoustic stint in Stockholm that, to his surprise, got picked up by a load of U.S. radio stations. “… at that point, I just felt like, OK, people obviously want to hear me do this,” he said. “So, I did a few shows in Los Angeles over the last couple years, and they were great. But it was still not me taking it out on the road and discovering what it could be. So at some point, I thought, ‘I’m just gonna book a 25-date tour and see what this becomes.’ And that’s what ‘Songbook’ was.” Find dates for Cornell’s current acoustic tour, here.