“Dolby’s 12 Days of Soundgarden: Day 8 (Discussing the Punk Androgyny and Uninhibited Simplicity of ‘Kickstand’)”

Punk rock, for anyone unacquainted or just with an incredible amount of patience for my blogging platitudes, is simplicity in a complex world. Now, this brings up an interesting discussion: the difference between “simple” and “simplistic.” It’s sort of like how flaring your nostrils can be sexy the first six or seven times, but then yields starkly negative returns upon overuse.
The next question, then, upon an examination of The Stooges [1] which any article about grunge will have to engage in, is was the song “We Will Fall” a success? I wouldn’t go that far, but The Stooges had an interesting problem in their early days: they didn’t have enough songs, and the songs they had, sort of like The Struts’ “Kiss This,” were more than good enough to propel them to stardom, at least within the counterculture. By putting filler on their first album, they facilitated it into modal expansion, but upon the passing of time we see the immense importance of a few songs like “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “No Fun” and “1969.”
What Soundgarden had on The Stooges, and the rest of grunge, undeniably was SOUND. Right off the bat they’d teamed up with Sub Pop [2] and elite producer Jack Endino and were basically making rock music of unparalleled muscle, this side of Led Zeppelin and Slayer. Actually, for all their drama and bombast, they were occasionally chided (and indeed ostracized) by their alternative rock brethren such as Steve Turner, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain.
Well da** it Soundgarden you killed Kurt Cobain. Killed Kurt Cobain again dude. Dude, where’s your Christ-like grunge messiah? Where’s your Christ-like grunge messiah, dude. Superunknown came out one month before his suicide. Still, it’s not out of the question that he’s essentially the reason that Soundgarden stripped down into brevity for the punk “Kickstand,” since there’s no songs like it on Badmotorfinger — that album is composed of deliberate, grinding grunge through and through. “Kickstand,” though, for all we know, could even be ABOUT Kurt Cobain — it’s definitely about a boy, with subtle sexual implications.
But as always music, it’s not so much open to interpretation as it is entirely defeating of interpretation in general. Reasons for this are generally physiognomical — music is an absorptive form transcendent of our general understandings of logic and reason and, we hope, has the power to displace stress, displace social unease and maybe even help us understand each other better, help us understand our whole living condition a little better. “Kickstand” is simplicity in a complex world, but it’s also a cry for help, making it, in a way, a doubly courageous creative entity.
[1] For the absurd extent to which grunge lifted from Iggy and the Stooges two reference points are helpful: (1.) Peter Bagge’s incendiary comic strip Hate and (2.) Ben Shepherd’s own clone of the punk godfathers, who believe it or not are called Hater.
[2] Check the liner notes for A-Sides for a great Soundgarden writeup from Sub Pop co-head honcho Jonathan Poneman.

18 thoughts on ““Dolby’s 12 Days of Soundgarden: Day 8 (Discussing the Punk Androgyny and Uninhibited Simplicity of ‘Kickstand’)”

Leave a Reply