"Rusty Cage" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, "Rusty Cage" was released in 1992 as the third single from the band's third studio album, Badmotorfinger (1991). The song became an instant hit and was released as a single in several different formats. The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides and the 2010 compilation album Telephantasm.
The tuning on that song was pretty nutty. It's recorded with a wah wah in the low position used as a filter. That was the first time we did anything like that. It was Chris's idea; he wanted to get that weird tone that you can't really dial in on an amp. But if you use the wah wah as a filter, it gets an incredibly weird sound. And if you listen to that riff, especially if you've heard the original demos of it, it almost sounds backward.
On "Rusty Cage" the bottom E string is tuned all the way down to B, with Thayil stating that "the string was all wobbly but it had a good effect". The song features a striking tempo change towards the end of the song. The phrasing and meter also change: the first part of the song is in 4/4 but the second, slower, part is in six-bar phrases consisting of three bars of 3/4 followed by one bar of 5/4, followed by a bar of 3/4 and a bar of 2/4 (3+3+3+5+3+2). Thayil has said that Soundgarden usually did not consider the time signature of a song until after the band had written it, and said that the use of odd meters was "a total accident".
"Rusty Cage" was released as a single in 1992 in various versions with a previously unreleased B-side titled "Touch Me". Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The song gained considerable airtime on alternative rock radio stations.
"Rusty Cage" was part of the soundtrack of the 1994 bike racing game, Road Rash, which received 3DO's 1994 "Soundtrack of the Year" award. The song appeared on the fictional radio station "Radio X" in the 2004 video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. However, these versions are all 1 minute and 43 seconds shorter than the album version. The majority of these versions end as the breakdown at the end of the song comes in. It is also featured in the 2008 racing game, Burnout Paradise, where the full version is intact. The song is a part of Soundgarden's compilation album Telephantasm DLC Pack for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. The song was added to the Rock Band 3 downloadable content catalog on July 19, 2011. The Johnny Cash version also appears in the Mob of the Dead zombies map in Call of Duty: Black Ops II's Uprising downloadable content. Like previous songs in the Call of Duty series' DLC, it is triggered by activating objects in the environment. It also appeared on the official trailer for Prey 2, which was later cancelled.
The music video for "Rusty Cage" was directed by Eric Zimmerman, who had previously directed the "Jesus Christ Pose" music video for the band. The video features Soundgarden performing the song in a white room amid scenes of the band members being chased through a forest by dogs, farmers, and a man in a truck. The video was released in March 1992. It gained considerable airtime on MTV.
A performance of "Rusty Cage" can be found on the Motorvision home video release.
All songs written by Chris Cornell, except where noted:
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"Rusty Cage" was covered by Johnny Cash on the 1996 album, Unchained, which won a Grammy Award for Best Country Album. During at least three live performances by Soundgarden (July 21, 1996, in Knoxville, Tennessee, at Forks In The River, early November 1996 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinois, and at Soundgarden's last pre-breakup show at the Blaisdell Arena, Honolulu, Hawaii, on February 9, 1997), Cornell introduced the song with a dedication to Cash. On Cornell's Higher Truth acoustic tour in late 2015, he started including "Rusty Cage" in the set-list, employing Johnny Cash's country-rock arrangement of the song.
Cash's version was featured in the TV shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Preacher in addition to the Call of Duty: Black Ops II Zombies map "Mob of the Dead", the Prey 2 'Bounty' trailer and closing credits for the syndicated television show "Heart of the Matter" originating from KTMW. This version is also used as the entrance song to UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch.
A cover of "Rusty Cage" was included on the 1993 album "Grunge Lite" by Sara DeBell. More recently, the song has been covered by the Chicago, Illinois, quartet Soil, which can be found on the band's Myspace page. Hungarian thrash metal band Ektomorf covered the song in the EP The Gipsy Way.