Welcome to the first Song of the Month, a new feature on the Unofficial Soundgarden Homepage. The idea is to choose one song each month and provide as much information and related media as possible. If you have songs that you would really like to see featured, feel free to let me know, but I've already pretty much chosen the songs for the next twelve months.
Originally recorded for 1991's Badmotorfinger, "Jesus Christ Pose" is the only song in Soundgarden's catalog for which all four members are given music authoring credit. It was instantly made a part of the band's live gigs, and has continued to be an important part of the shows in the last 5 years -- it was performed in 1991 when Soundgarden opened for Guns N' Roses, and it is still being performed in 1996 at Lollapalooza, where it has been introduced as "This is where Matt does his fuckin' workout" by Chris Cornell.
Rolling Stone magazine described "Jesus Christ Pose" in the July 9, 1992, issue as "a track so assaultive and strobelike that listening to it makes you feel edgy." The song seems to have originated from a drum pattern (see below) that Matt Cameron dreamed up; in Modern Drummer (June 1994) he says, "As soon as I played this pattern everyone dove right in, and within an hour we had the guts of the song. The approach we took on this one was pure assault of the senses. Canadians dance to this song."
Drum pattern for verse section
In Guitar School magazine (June 1994), Kim Thayil comments on his part of the song: "The song's groove reminds me of helicopter blades. [makes helicopter blade sounds] I bent the strings at the beginning and end of the song. That's all I remember."
People often speculate about Soundgarden's religious tendencies, given songs like "Jesus Christ Pose," "Holy Water," etc. "Jesus Christ Pose" is not, however, about religion, as Chris Cornell explains in the Rolling Stone interview (January 12, 1995): "The key word in that song is pose. That was a response to seeing a bunch of different photo shoots of models and rock stars doing the Jesus thing, posing on a crucifix. I'd seen it so much that year, and it seemed silly. It's silly for other people to use it in some way to project themselves."
When asked about the "Pose" itself, Cornell says: "You just see it a lot with really beautiful people, or famous people, exploiting that symbol as to imply that they're either a deity or persecuted somehow by their public. So it's pretty much a song that is nonreligious but expressing being irritated by seeing that. It's not that I would ever be offended by what someone would do with that symbol."
The video for "Jesus Christ Pose" caused instant controversy; it was banned by MTV because of images of various subjects -- a girl, Chris Cornell, and a half-robot, half-skeleton -- being crucified. As Thayil notes in Guitar School, "That was our first single off Badmotorfinger, but it never got any airplay because of the references to Jesus. And MTV wouldn't play the video because they didn't like the idea of a girl on the cross. There are no guitars in the video at all. There's not even a picture of a guitar in the video. It's like this hard, rock-fast, punk-metal video that has no instruments in the whole thing. And it's a six minute video!" Thayil also indicates in Guitar magazine (July 1996) that the "Jesus Christ Pose" video was one of the few Soundgarden videos that satisfied the band, mentioning "Black Hole Sun" as another. There are images from the video on the left-hand side of this window.
The following are some full-length clips of "Jesus Christ Pose" being performed live. Some of the recordings are really poor, and I apologize for that, but if you want to hear it perfectly, go see Soundgarden in concert. If RealAudio didn't suck, I would have used it to make your lives easier.
03/05/92: Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA [AU: 7,369,693]
And you stare at me
Is the Song of the Month feature a good idea? A crappy idea? Let me know.