It’s unbelievably sad that the 25th anniversary re-release of the generation-defining Singles soundtrack comes just days after the death of Chris Cornell, one of the main artists involved in the film’s sound.
Singles—an ensemble comedy about a group of 20-somethings in Seattle trying to figure out life and love—was made at the moment grunge was breaking through to the mainstream. And director Cameron Crowe not only populated the 1992 film with an amazingly talented main cast, he used the city’s exploding alternative scene to help color the action. What that means is that the majority of the then-fledgling Pearl Jam (including their newly-minted lead singer Eddie Vedder) and Cornell play small roles—and both Soundgarden and Alice in Chains perform in certain scenes of the film. (There are also cameos from Jeremy Piven, Paul Giamatti, and director Tim Burton, but that’s for another post.)
Sensing a good sales opportunity, the label released the album three months before the film hit theaters and it became one of the first soundtracks of the ’90s to go double platinum, thanks to some exclusive tracks from Pearl Jam (“Breath,” “State of Love and Trust”) and Alice in Chains (“Would’).
Today, to mark this year’s 25th anniversary, Epix Soundtrax/Legacy Recordings is releasing a deluxe double-disc reissue of the soundtrack, featuring a bonus disc of never-before-released material from Cornell, Alice in Chains, Paul Westerberg, Mike McCready, Mudhoney, and, yes, an official recording of “Touch Me I’m Dick” from the film’s fictional group Citizen Dick.
We commiserated with rock expert, podcaster, and creator of Soul Cycle’s “Rock Star Ride,” Noa Shaw about the soundtrack’s legacy—and had him create a Singles-inspired Spotify playlist that you can rock out to at home.
Shaw says back in 1992, he picked up the soundtrack as soon as it came out—and had to buy a second copy after he wore his first out. “Grunge, in general, spoke to my feelings,” he says. “Not that I didn’t love the fun of Mötley Crüe or Guns N’ Roses or Van Halen, but the Seattle sound was something you could attach to emotionally as well as musically. ‘Black’ is every breakup I had in the ’90s; ‘Alive’ speaks to me as a sober guy who’s been through a lot—it’s very personal music. And it allowed me to connect with the musicians who I knew had gone through the same things I was going through.”
His favorite track was the song used in the film’s trailer, Paul Westerberg’s “Dyslexic Heart.” “I love his writing and his composition,” he says. “The song makes me feel good. And the Replacements were such a big influence on Kurt Cobain and his songwriting.”
Shaw crafted his own rock playlist for InStyle, inspired by both the artists on the Singles soundtrack and the musicians that influenced them. Rock on, stream on… and, seriously, go watch Singles. It holds up.
Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack-Deluxe Edition is available on vinyl, CD or digital download via Amazon or wherever music is sold.