Back in November, a recently revitalized Soundgarden played legendary New York recording space Electric Lady Studios as part of SiriusXM’s intimate concert-and-Q&A Town Hall series. Thankfully, footage from the exclusive event has surfaced online, capturing vivid live performances of Badmotorfinger’s molten classic “Rusty Cage” and King Animal‘s razor-sharp opener “Been Away Too Long,” as well as bits of an interview moderated by Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. The colossal Seattle quartet reliably hammers out both songs — sure, carpeted hardwood floors aren’t all that conducive to a hard rock show from a mega-selling arena act, but the Spoonmen are professionals — but another version of “Rusty Cage” steals some of the focus in the above six-minute clip.
Before the camera cuts to frontman Chris Cornell leading his bandmates through their 1991 game-shredder, Cornell and crew answer a question from an audience member: How did it feel to be covered by the late, great Johnny Cash? After the knee-jerk cheeky response from guitarist Kim Thayil (“He was alive when he did the cover”), Soundgarden discuss the honor of being mimicked by the Man in Black. Cornell deadpans that appreciating the distinction is the one thing the Pacific Northwestern outfit has in common with Bob Dylan, while drummer Matt Cameron shares an anecdote: “[Johnny Cash] was interviewed by Larry King and he was talking about the lyrics of ‘Rusty Cage’ reminding him of Beat poetry,” Cameron says. “His version of the song really brought out the lyrics of that song in a way that only he can.” To which Cornell quips, “I got messages on my answering machine… saying that they heard Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Rusty Cage’ and how great the lyrics were, and I thought, ‘Well, when our version came out I didn’t get one message.'” Outshined, once again.
To make the wait for Soundgarden’s Dave Grohl-directed (and Deadmau5-featuring) “By Crooked Steps” video easier, watch the interview clip and rendition of “Rusty Cage” above, and scroll down to see “Been Away Too Long.”