Burden in My Hand

"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.

"Burden in My Hand"
Single by Soundgarden
from the album Down on the Upside
B-side "Karaoke"
Released September 18, 1996
Format CD single, vinyl
Recorded November 1995 – February 1996
Genre Alternative rock, hard rock
Length 4:50
Label A&M
Songwriter(s) Chris Cornell
Producer(s) Adam Kasper, Soundgarden
Soundgarden singles chronology
"Pretty Noose"
"Burden in My Hand"
"Blow Up the Outside World"
"Pretty Noose"
"Burden in My Hand"
"Blow Up the Outside World"
Down on the Upside track listing
"Blow Up the Outside World"
(Track 6)
"Burden in My Hand"
(Track 7)
"Never Named"
(Track 8)
Audio sample
  • file
  • help

Origin and recording

"Burden in My Hand" was written by frontman Chris Cornell. It was written in open C tuning.


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."[1] 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.[2]

Release and reception

"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.

Music video

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.[3] 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.[4]

Live performances

"Burden in My Hand" was performed on Saturday Night Live in May 1996 in support of Down on the Upside.

Track listing

All songs written by Chris Cornell, except where noted:

CD (Europe) and 7" vinyl (Europe)
  1. "Burden in My Hand" – 4:50
  2. "Karaoke" – 6:01
CD (Europe)
  1. "Burden in My Hand" – 4:50
  2. "Bleed Together" – 3:54
  3. "She's a Politician" – 1:48
  4. Chris Cornell Interview – 7:42
    • The interview segment with Chris Cornell is conducted by Tom Russell and was recorded in April 1996. Cornell talks about the cancelled Superunknown tour dates in the UK ("My voice just crapped out"), the pressure to release a record that will sell well ("The pressure comes from us"), publishing companies ("We didn't need that"), and the band's sense of humor ("We don't take ourselves seriously").
CD (Australia)
  1. "Burden in My Hand" – 4:50
  2. "Karaoke" – 6:01
  3. "Bleed Together" – 3:54
  4. "Birth Ritual" (demo) (Cornell, Matt Cameron, Kim Thayil) – 5:50
Promotional CD (UK)
  1. "Burden in My Hand" – 4:50
  • The club promotional CD is a limited edition of 300 in a clear plastic sleeve, sealed with a blue sticker that doubles as the liner notes.
Promotional CD (US)
  1. "Burden in My Hand" – 4:50
  2. "Burden in My Hand" (edit)

Chart positions

Weekly charts

Chart (1996) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[5] 57
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[6] 9
Canada Rock/Alternative (RPM)[7] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[8] 33
US Radio Songs (Billboard)[9] 40
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[10] 1
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[11] 2
Chart (2017) Peak
US Rock Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[12] 25

End of year charts

Chart (1996) Position
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[13] 75
Canadian RPM Alternative 30[14] 1
Preceded by
"Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart" by Stone Temple Pilots
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single
August 31 – October 4, 1996
Succeeded by
"Test for Echo" by Rush
Preceded by
Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart by Stone Temple Pilots
Canadian RPM Alternative 30 number-one single
August 12–26, 1996
Succeeded by
"Who You Are" by Pearl Jam


  1. ^ Watts, Ted. "Soundgarden spins back to Detroit" Archived October 15, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.. Michigan Daily. November 12, 1996.
  2. ^ Florino, Rick. "Chris Cornell of Soundgarden Looks Back on 'Burden in my Hand'". ARTISTdirect.com. September 13, 2011.
  3. ^ "Soundgarden - Burden In My Hand: Closed-Captioned". YouTube. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
  4. ^ "Soundgarden music videos". Music Video Database. Retrieved February 22, 2008.
  5. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  6. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 9815." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  7. ^ "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 8496." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  8. ^ "Soundgarden: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  9. ^ "Soundgarden Chart History (Radio Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  10. ^ "Soundgarden Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  11. ^ "Soundgarden Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  12. ^ "Soundgarden – Chart history – Billboard Rock Digital Song Sales". Billboard. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  13. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 64, No. 18, December 16, 1996". RPM. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  14. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 64, No. 18, December 16, 1996". RPM. Retrieved October 25, 2010.

External links

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