Despite its title, Soundgarden's "4th of July" is far from some jingoistic patriotic anthem. Instead the Superunknown standout is packed with harrowing surreal lyrics and apocalyptic visions ("Jesus tries to crack a smile beneath another shovel load"). Chris Cornell and cohorts brought these visions to vivid life during the encore of their September 6th, 1995, set at Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen, Germany, building from the song's brooding intro to waves of crushing sludge and soaring vocals. Watch the gripping performance above.
Turns out, the apocalyptic visions in the lyrics have a fittingly drug-induced backstory, which Cornell relayed to RIP magazine in 1994. "One time I was on acid, and there were voices 10 feet behind my head," he described. "The whole time I'd be walking, they'd be talking behind me. It actually made me feel good, because I felt like I was with some people. At one point I was looking back, and I saw that one person was wearing a black shirt and jeans, and the other person was wearing a red shirt. They were always there.
"It was kinda like a dream, though, where I'd wake up and look and focus once in a while and realize there was no one there. I'd go, 'Oh, fuck, I'm hearing voices.' '4th of July' is pretty much about that day. You wouldn't get that if you read it. It doesn't read like, 'Woke up, dropped some acid, got into the car and went to the Indian reservation.'"