Soundgarden’s 1994 classic “Black Hole Sun” is one of rock’s titanic singles. The anthem carries an inextinguishable torch for grunge — its generational malaise, its plodding melancholia. Yet the song’s singular beauty arises from the ways it lifts the genre’s massive, earth-bound sounds to new and transcendent heights. In the song’s airy verses, Chris Cornell’s words swirl like gathering storm clouds, brewing power pop melodies and Sgt. Pepper psychedelia into a festering, ominous mass. By the time its final iconic chorus drops, “Black Hole Sun” has soared amid some pretty expansive sonic vistas — heaven, earth and back again.
Bluegrass/jam vanguards Leftover Salmon take a similarly expansive approach in their cover of “Black Hole Sun.” From their panoramic vantage high in the Rockies (the band has long been based in Boulder, Colorado), Leftover Salmon render the tune in their signature blend of sounds. Pacific Northwest hard rock, progressive picking, and classic Appalachian acoustics are all teased in equal measure. The tune runs at quick clip, with distilled piano and crisp banjo rounds set atop a propellent snare backbeat. Echoes of the original course through Leslie speakers, impassioned vocals and a heavy electric bridge. The iconic post-chorus yelps — “Black hole sun! Black hole sun!” — are transformed into a side-stage, full band holler. The scene may be a little less apocalyptic, but Leftover Salmon have lost none of Soundgarden’s big and fervent energy.
Leftover Salmon’s cover of “Black Hole Sun” is featured on the band’s new record, Brand New Good Old Days, due out on May 7th courtesy of Compass Records. Pre-order the album here, and check out the cover below.