3 Grunge Songs that Will Make Any Fan Tear Up

The Seattle-born genre of rock music known a grunge is a nuanced sound. It’s hard and forceful but it’s also comprised of sensitive lyrics. Sonically, it is a gut punch and lyrically a cry for help. There’s a reason, sadly, so many of its stars have passed away.

Videos by American Songwriter

Here below, we wanted to dive into three songs from the genre that will get your heartstrings tugged and your tear ducts welling. From bands like Soundgarden to Pearl Jam, these are three grunge songs that will make any rock fan tear up.

[RELATED: Catching Up with Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic: “Well, Let’s Just Do Whatever We Want to Do at This Point”]

“Jeremy” by Pearl Jam

Released on Pearl Jam’s debut LP Ten in 1991, this song has a sordid history. Lead singer Eddie Vedder wrote it inspired by two news stories about children and guns. The first is about a teenager who shot and killed himself in front of his class. The second is about a school shooter Vedder knew from middle school in San Diego. But no matter how you slice it, this song is sad and, in a way, portends the rash of school shootings that would come over the next decades. On the track, Vedder sings,

Clearly I remember
Pickin’ on the boy
Seemed a harmless little f–k
Oh, but we unleashed a lion
Gnashed his teeth
And bit the recess lady’s breast
How could I forget
He hit me with a surprise left
My jaw left hurtin
Oh, dropped wide open
Just like the day
Like the day I heard

“Fell on Black Days” by Soundgarden

This song is about depression, something Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell suffered from, leading to his 2017 suicide. Released on the band’s 1994 album Superunknown, the heart-wrenching song makes you feel for Cornell as he describes the darkness in his mind. Said Cornell of the song’s inspiration, “you realize you’re unhappy in the extreme, to the point of being really, really scared.” On the song, he sings,

Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life
And whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life
Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile
Sunspots have faded, now I’m doing time
Now I’m doing time

‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

Whomsoever I’ve cured, I’ve sickened now
And whomsoever I’ve cradled, I’ve put you down
I’m a search light soul they say
But I can’t see it in the night

“Say Hello 2 Heaven” by Temple of the Dog

This song is from grunge supergroup Temple of the Dog, which included Cornell, Vedder and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. It’s about the loss of their brother in music, Andrew Wood, the lead singer of many influential early grunge bands, including Mother Love Bone. Wood died from a heroin overdose just days before that band would release its debut LP Apple. So, Cornell wrote this song for Wood, which was released on the band’s only album, Temple of the Dog from 1991. On the forlorn song, Cornell sings,

Please, mother mercy
Take me from this place
And the long-winded curses
I hear in my head

The words never listen
And teachers, oh, they never learn
My warmth from the candle
Though I feel too cold to burn

He came from an island
Then he died from the street
And he hurt so bad like a soul breakin’
But he never said nothin’ to me, yeah

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Anniversary Album: 30 Years of ‘American Recordings’ by Johnny Cash