"Burden in My Hand" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, "Burden in My Hand" was released on September 18, 1996, as the second single from the band's fifth studio album, Down on the Upside (1996). The song topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it spent five weeks at number one. The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides.
The lyrics of "Burden in My Hand" suggest the song is about a man who murders a woman he is in a relationship with and leaves her in the desert, not without regret. Some fans believe the lyrics are 'deeper' than the surface and indicative of something such as drug abuse or an abusive relationship; however, the guitarist Kim Thayil called the song "the "Hey Joe" of the '90s." In a 2011 interview with ARTISTdirect.com, Cornell was asked what the song had come to mean for him, years later. Cornell responded:
That was a song that really came from the guitar itself. It was mostly like the guitar was dictating what the lyrics should be and creating a mental image. The mental image was this sort of destitute guy. I guess he'd lost his cool if you want to put it that way. He's sort of coming to grips with what had happened and not necessarily feeling particularly emotional about it either way. He's trying to figure out how he would stand up and put one foot in front of the other—or not—and the song never really resolves any of that. It's just that moment of somebody sitting in the dirt. I had more moments like that after that song was written than I ever had before it was, so it means a lot more to me now than it did then.
"Burden in My Hand" was released as a single in 1996 in various versions with the previously unreleased B-sides "Karaoke" and "Bleed Together", the latter of which can also be found on the band's greatest hits compilation, A-Sides (1997). "Burden in My Hand" appeared on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 Airplay chart, reaching the top 40. "Burden in My Hand" became the most successful song from Down on the Upside on the American rock charts. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number two on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song spent five weeks at number one on the Mainstream Rock chart.
Outside the United States, the single was released in Australia and the United Kingdom. In Canada, the song reached the top ten on the Canadian Singles Chart, and later reached number one on the Alternative Top 30 chart, Soundgarden's second single to top that chart. "Burden in My Hand" also reached number one on the Canadian Year End Alternative Top 50.
The music video for "Burden in My Hand" was directed by Jake Scott, who had previously directed the "Fell on Black Days" music video for the band. The video shows the band members walking through what appears to be the Kelso Dunes of the eastern Mojave Desert. The fighter aircraft seen in the video is a J 35 Draken, apparently operated out of the Mojave Air and Space Port. The video was released in June 1996.
"Burden in My Hand" was performed on Saturday Night Live in May 1996 in support of Down on the Upside.
All songs written by Chris Cornell, except where noted:
"Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart" by Stone Temple Pilots
|Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single
August 31 – October 4, 1996
"Test for Echo" by Rush
Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart by Stone Temple Pilots
|Canadian RPM Alternative 30 number-one single
August 12–26, 1996
"Who You Are" by Pearl Jam
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