This song has some apocalyptic themes and very dark lyrics ("Jesus tries to crack a smile beneath another shovel load"). Chris Cornell explained the song in an interview with RIP magazine, April 1994: "One time I was on acid, and there were voices ten feet behind my head. The whole time I'd be walking, they'd be talking behind me. It actually made me feel good, because I felt like I was with some people. At one point I was looking back, and I saw that one person was wearing a black shirt and jeans, and the other person was wearing a red shirt. They were always there. It was kinda like a dream, though, where I'd wake up and look and focus once in a while and realize there was no one there. I'd go, 'Oh, f--k, I'm hearing voices.' '4th of July' is pretty much about that day. You wouldn't get that if you read it. It doesn't read like, 'Woke up, dropped some acid, got into the car and went to the Indian reservation.'"