Saturday, March 3, 2012
Temple of the Dog: Say Hello 2 Heaven
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden wrote this song months before "grunge" alternative rock exploded onto the national music scene. He wrote it in memory of his close friend and roommate, Andrew Wood, lead singer of the Seattle band Mother Love Bone. Wood, a long time drug addict, overdosed on heroin in early-1990 while Cornell and Soundgarden were on tour. After writing two songs, Cornell approached the surviving members of Mother Love Bone about recording them. The recording sessions went so well that they started writing and reworking other songs, while adding a few members to the band (mostly from Soundgarden and the future Pearl Jam). This group was eventually named Temple of the Dog, from the lyrics of the Mother Love Bone song, "Man of Golden Words."
When Temple of the Dog's self-titled album was release in early 1991, music critics gave it generally favorable reviews, but the album didn't sell well. It was reissued a year later after both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden had received national mainstream success, and was marketed by A&M Records as a Soundgarden/Pearl Jam collaboration, despite the fact that Pearl Jam didn't yet exist when Temple of the Dog was recorded. "Say Hello 2 Heaven" reached number 5 on the US Billboard mainstream rock charts.
As an aside I think that "Say Hello 2 Heaven" is one of the outstanding early examples of why Chris Cornell is the best rock vocalist of the last two decades. Here are two more recent examples: Imagine from the Howard Stern show, and I Will Always Love You from a recent show in San Francisco.