The late Cornell recorded those two songs, which he described as the first time he’d written anything specifically for a person, as demos and played them for Ament, who suggest the Soundgarden frontman should record them.
Cornell told Rolling Stonehe thought Soundgarden could record the two songs on an album as a tribute to Wood. As it turns out, Cornell asked Ament if he’d like to help record the songs. From there they decided to make an entire album, forming Temple of the Dog in the process.
The members of band recall the impact Cameron had on the record. “Once we started playing with Chris and Matt, the songs took on a different life, especially from Matt’s end. His playing becomes the hook on a lot of the songs. The part that he came up with on “Wooden Jesus” is such an iconic drum song to me. It’s such a riff and so musical. His playing dictated that we leave space in those songs. To my ears, that’s what makes the record really unique and fun to listen to,” Ament said in Rolling Stone.
Another standout, emotional track is “Times of Trouble” which details the trappings of heroin and how a user can hold on and overcome the addiction, even when it seems there is no hope left. Sadly, Wood’s addiction got the best of him just as Mother Lovebone was about to serve notice as a premier Seattle rock and roll band.
After laying down nine songs, Cornell wanted to make it an even 10 tracks to fill the Temple album. That’s when the band decided to lay down “Hunger Strike”, which Cornell had written a few months prior to the Temple sessions. It wasn’t finished but he recalls how Vedder, who had just joined Pearl Jam at the time, came to add vocals: “I thought that “Hunger Strike” would be a good message to end the album on, but it wasn’t complete. It was just one verse. I was singing the chorus in the rehearsal space and Eddie just kind of shyly walked up to the mic and started singing the low “going hungry” and I started singing the high one. When I heard him sing, the whole thing came together in my brain. I just felt like, ‘Wow, his voice is so great in this low register. He should sing on it. I’ll sing the first verse and then he’ll come in. Even though it’s the same lyrics, it’s a different singer and it’ll feel like two verses’,” recalled Cornell in a Rolling Stoneinterview.
For Temple of the Dog fans, there are rumors out there that a live album might soon be released with songs taken from the band’s 2016 tour.
With Cornell’s death in 2017, there will never be another Temple of the Dog tour or album. Fortunately, music fans can still reach out and listen to the 1990 masterpiece, which will stand the test of time.