Limo Wreck

Album: Superunknown (1994)

Songfacts®:

  • Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell called this swirling guitar track a "shame-on-decadence song" that reminds the social elite they aren't above mortality. He got the idea while sitting in traffic on the Los Angeles freeway and noticing the contrast between the dented Chevys and smashed-up pickup trucks driven by working-class folks versus the pristine automobiles driven by – or for – the wealthy.

    "The idea of seeing a couple of limos smashed into one another, I'd never seen that before, and I thought these people in expensive cars - especially the limos where the windows are blacked out and someone else is driving - they seem to have a feeling that they're not susceptible to mortality," Cornell told Request Magazine in 1994. "During our trip down the freeway, I was talking to this guy who drove a limo, and he said that once this guy was in the back and some supposed vagrant came up and started knocking on the window. The guy opened the door like, 'F--k you, you can't touch me, I'm in a limo.' And a bunch of other vagrants came up and beat the shit out of the guy, almost killed him. The song describes that sort of decadence and this strange perception that you're so high on the social or political ladder that you're somehow beyond all that. But it's not true."
  • Cornell saw his image of the out-of-touch moneyed man reflected in the Guns N' Roses video for "Estranged." He explained: "A big chunk of the video is Axl [Rose] coming out of this huge mansion on a hill with a bunch of servants wearing white and him getting into this huge stretch and having a motorcade of police wearing white ice-cream-salesman suits. Who the f--- does he think he is going to honestly connect with besides Donald Trump? Who else is going to give a shit about the fact that he can afford that kind of attention? It goes beyond decadence, it's spitting in the face of the people that have put you there. I was offended by it, and I don't get offended by much."
  • Soundgarden released a deluxe edition of Superunknown to celebrate the album's 20th anniversary in 2014. Cornell told Rolling Stone the stylistic leap the band took from 1991's Badmotorfinger to Superunknown is evident on this track: "'Limo Wreck' was one of those songs where, if it were someone else's song, I would've thought, 'God, why didn't I write that?' It's a complicated song. There are a lot of things musically working together that don't make any sense that shouldn't work really, but they do. Those things are fascinating to me."
  • Cornell elaborated on the song's unique qualities in a 2014 Entertainment Weekly interview: "It's actually a complicated series of rhythms and melodies, and they go into these interesting places, and none of it is particularly based in any sort of rock tradition that I was aware of. Because of that, any idea I had melodically seemed really interesting to me. We really didn't play 'Limo Wreck' much live previously, but in rehearsing it now, I really think it's one of the more unusual songs I've heard in modern rock. It's an accomplishment, and I can look at some of the slower, heavier, weirder melodic songs on Superunknown as being uniquely ours, without reference or root in anything else - any other period of music, any other band, any other records."

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