Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready Recalls Chris Cornell’s Request For Temple Of The Dog’s ‘Reach Down’

Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready recently spoke to Guitar Player about one of Chris Cornell‘s requests. According to the musician, Cornell wanted to make a long song during the recording of Temple of the Dog’s self-titled album.

Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood, a close friend of Chris Cornell, died on March 19, 1990, due to a heroin overdose. Later on, Cornell approached his former bandmates, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, to form a tribute band for his late friend. Cornell had already started writing new materials and wanted to release the songs as singles.

The drummer Matt Cameron and the guitarist Mike McCready last joined the band, completing the lineup. They went to the studio and recorded the album only in 15 days. Chris Cornell wrote all the lyrics on the album, and it was a melodic record, different from Soundgarden’s aggressive sounds.

During a recent conversation, Mike McCready recalled the recording sessions of the album and Chris Cornell’s request from him to play a solo for the song, ‘Reach Down.’ He revealed that it was the first real album he played on, and he wanted to do a good job. In addition to being nervous, Cornell wanted to record a song 11-minute long to drive their record company crazy.

Cornell said that he could do better and left for a smoke in the first take. Therefore, McCready tried to use all the tricks he learned by listening to his inspirations. The musician brought out the best in himself and created exceptional work in the end. McCready also added that he is very grateful to Cornell that he gave him the chance to play an extensive solo in that record.

Mike McCready’s words on Chris Cornell’s request from him:

“‘Temple of the Dog’ was the first legitimate album that I played on. Chris Cornell wrote a demo for this song that was just spectacular. He played everything on it. I remember him saying, ‘Hey, let’s make the first song on the record an 11-minute song, just to piss off the record company!’

He’d said, ‘We’ll need a long lead part on the song to stretch it out.’ I was very nervous; I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overplaying and that I was respecting the song. I did one lead, and Chris said, ‘I think you can do better,‘ and then he went out for a cigarette.”

He continued:

“I just really went for it on the next take. I pulled out all the tricks I’d learned up to that point from listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix, toggle-switch stuff, everything. I didn’t think about it, though; I was just playing. For the last minute and a half of the solo, my headphones had fallen off, but I was so into it that I played on through.

That’s the take on the record. Somehow, I really channeled something special. I think people weren’t really playing long solos so much at that time, and I’m still so grateful to Chris and the guys for giving me the opportunity there to really put my own mark on such a great song.”

You can listen to ‘Reach Down’ below.