Song Of The Month, January 1997

Welcome to the first Song Of The Month for 1997. This month's featured song is "Outshined," for several reasons. First, I love the song -- always have -- and hearing it performed live in Chicago strengthened that feeling. Second, the "Outshined" video clips made their way onto my hard disk just as it was time to select a song. Third, it would have taken me a full month to dig up enough info on the song I had originally intended to do, and I just got back from vacation on December 29. Enjoy.

Canadian video

US video

The Song
Originally recorded for 1991's Badmotorfinger, "Outshined" was written by Chris Cornell and released as a single in 1992. It appeared several times between March and November of that year, backed by some b-sides that to this day are not available anywhere else (not including bootlegs): I Don't Care About You," "Can You See Me," "Homicidal Suicidal," and "I Can't Give You Anything." KERRANG! has described "Outshined" as "brutal" and "overdriven," and Melody Maker says "God it hurts, but good." Cornell says the song is the relief for his reclusive behavior: "My one outlet is that I get to stand in front of five thousand people and sing 'Outshined.'"

"Outshined" features what are possibly Soundgarden's most famous lyrics: "I'm looking California/And feeling Minnesota." In Details magazine, Cornell says: "One of the first times I remember writing something personal was on tour. I was feeling really freaky and down, and I looked in the mirror and I was wearing a red T-shirt and some baggy tennis shorts. I remember thinking that as bummed as I felt, I looked like some beach kid. And then I came up with that line -- 'I'm looking California / And feeling Minnesota,' from the song 'Outshined' -- and as soon as I wrote it down, I thought it was the dumbest thing. But after the record came out and we went on tour, everybody would be screaming along with that particular line when it came up in the song. That was a shock. How could anyone know that that was one of the most personally specific things I had ever written? It was just a tiny line. But somehow, maybe because it was personal, it just pushed that button." In Rock Power magazine, he adds: "I've never really been biographical in my lyrics, so when I wrote a line like 'I'm looking California and feeling Minnesota' from Outshined, it just felt refreshing." The line has become so well-known that in 1996 a movie was actually titled "Feeling Minnesota," though Soundgarden has nothing to do it (the film does feature Courtney Love...).

Cornell told Rip magazine in 1992: "I don't know how everyone else feels, but I definitely go through periods of extreme self-confidence, feeling like I can do anything. Perhaps a fan will sense that, like in a performance, and the hero image creeps out. But then someone will say something, however insignificant, or I'll get something in my head and, all of a sudden, I'm plummeting in the opposite direction, I'm a piece of shit, and I really can't do anything about it. That's where 'Outshined' comes from, and why I'll never consider myself a hero."

The video for "Outshined" was directed by Matt Mahurin, and though it is a favorite among Soundgarden fans, the band was never pleased with Mahurin's work. According to Cornell, the director was concentrating on Metallica's epic "Unforgiven" while putting together the footage for "Outshined": "He does people on the street, social underbelly crap, but it's pretend underbelly. The clip was in the MTV Buzz-bin for a few weeks and then it fell off. About two months later he sent us the real cut, and it was fantastic, way better than the one that got on the air. It was frustrating. The unseen version was dangerous; the released version was a standard hard rock video. He kind of winged it, he was too busy with Metallica."

Kim Thayil echoes this sentiment: "All I can remember is that they cut the guitar solo to make the video 'single-length.' I thought that was a stupid thing. Here we are, a guitar band, and the guitar solo -- it may not be a great guitar solo -- was edited out just for the video. That's ridiculous. It was a heavy song and our most popular video, even though it was a crap video. It never kicks in or explodes; there's no dynamics. The band never loosens up and explores the riff because the solo was taken out."

Sound + Vision
There is a sound clip from the studio version of "Outshined" available below. As always, you should find yourself a real recording of this song (hint: buy Badmotorfinger).

AUDIO "Outshined" [MP3]

There are no full-length live clips this month -- I still have barely enough disk space. I should have more next month, so hopefully there will be live clips then.

There are, however, two video clips. They are from two different versions of the "Outshined" video -- US and Canada -- and they're quite different than each other.

[VIDEO] "Outshined" [MPG: 240x180, 1m07s, 5.05MB]
[VIDEO] "Outshined" (Canadian) [MPG: 240x180, 1m04s, 4.87MB]


I got up feeling so down
I got off being sold out
I've kept the movie rolling
But the story's getting old now
I just looked in the mirror
Things aren't looking so good
I'm looking California
And feeling Minnesota
So now you know, who gets mystified
Show me the power child
I'd like to say
That I'm down on my knees today
It gives me the butterflies
Gives me away
Till I'm up on my feet again
I'm feeling outshined
Someone let the dogs out
They'll show you where the truth is
The grass is always greener
Where the dogs are shedding
I'm feeling that I'm sober
Even though I'm drinking
I can't get any lower
Still I feel I'm sinking
So now you know who gets mystified
Show me the power child
I'd like to say
That I'm down on my knees today
It gives me the butterflies
Gives me away
Till I'm up on my feet again
I'm feeling outshined

The "Outshined" tablature was worked out by Andrew Northcut; it's a bit too large to fit here, so follow the above link to check it out. A small piece of the bass line was worked out by Christopher Kush.

Authorized Releases
Wondering where you can find "Outshined"? Here you go:

  • Badmotorfinger, A&M, 10/08/91

  • "Outshined" (edit)/"Cold Bitch", Australian CD, US promo 12", A&M, 10/15/91

  • "Outshined" (edit)/"Outshined", promo CD and 12", A&M, 10/15/91

  • Radio Sampler Volume 12, A&M, 11/18/91

  • "Outshined" (edit)/"Outshined"/"Girl U Want"/"Show Me"/"Into The Void (Sealth)", German CD, A&M, 03/92

  • "Outshined"/"I Can't Give You Anything", picture 7", A&M, 11/92

  • "Outshined" (edit)/"I Don't Care About You"/"Can You See Me"/"Outshined", etched DigiPak CD, A&M, 11/92

  • "Outshined" (edit)/"I Can't Give You Anything"/"Homicidal Suicidal"/"Outshined", UK DJ promo 12", etched CD, A&M, 11/92

  • High Voltage 92-04, promo

  • True Romance (soundtrack), Morgan Creek Records, 07/01/93

  • Foreshocks, promo CD, A&M, 06/28/94

Unauthorized Releases
Tons of 'em. Too many to list. Check out Steve Russell's comprehensive Bootleg Discography for details.

Thanks to Geoff Kleemola and Steve Russell Jr. for making this month's featured song page possible.

CD5 cover

Picture 7" (side A)