In March of 1990, Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone passed away following a heroin overdose. His friend Chris Cornell took this as an opportunity to form a band in tribute to Wood. The resulting band was called Temple Of The Dog, and in addition to Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, it featured members of Pearl Jam (two of which had been members of Mother Love Bone), and Matt Cameron, who was at the time the drummer for Soundgarden, but then became the drummer for Soundgarden. Some tracks, including ‘Hunger Strike’ also featured vocals from Eddie Vedder, known for his fronting of Pearl Jam. Y’know what, it’s almost easier if we treat this as Pearl Jam with Chris Cornell taking over vocals. That sounds easier.
While Temple Of The Dog saw moderate success at the time, their work wasn’t really recognised until Pearl Jam had broken into the mainstream and become famous musicians in their own right. The album’s first, and best-known single, was ‘Hunger Strike’. It featured Cornell and Vedder trading off verses before sharing vocal duties in the chorus, and it is now considered one of the defining moments in grunge music.
The track itself has been open to interpretation for some time. Though many view it as a look at the music industry itself, many others view the track as a cynical view towards greed. While the lyrics speak of how Cornell and Vedder don’t mind stealing from the rich to satisfy themselves, but they condemn those who take too much from the others who can’t afford to give anything away. Eddie Vedder has also spoken of the song’s meaning in the past, stating how he has viewed it as an attack on those who take advantage of others.
While the song’s meaning is rather noble, I’ve always viewed this song as a meaningful snapshot into the world of grunge music in the early ’90s. Before Pearl Jam had made it big, and while Soundgarden were slowly seeing their deserved success, they released a fine record as Mother Love Bone, and it influenced thousands. That in itself is a great reason to remember this song.