"Burden in My Hand" as written by and Chris Cornell....
Follow me into the desert
As thirsty as you are
Crack a smile and cut your mouth
And drown in alcohol
'Cause down below the truth is lying
Beneath the riverbed
So quench yourself and drink the water
That flows below her head

Oh no there she goes
Out in the sunshine the sun is mine
The sun is mine

I shot my love today would you cry for me?
I lost my head again would you lie for me?

Close your eyes and bow your head
I need a little sympathy
'Cause fear is strong and love's for everyone
Who isn't me
Kill your health and kill yourself
And kill everything you love
And if you live you can fall to pieces
And suffer with my ghost

I shot my love today would you cry for me?
I lost my head again would you lie for me?
I left her in the sand just a burden in my hand
I lost my head again would you cry for me

Just a burden in my hand
Just an anchor on my heart
Just a tumor in my head
And I'm in the dark

So follow me into the desert
As desperate as you are
Where the moon is glued to a picture of heaven
And all the little pigs have God

Oh no there she goes
Out in the sunshine the sun is mine
The sun is mine

I shot my love today would you cry for me yeah?
I lost my head again would you lie for me?
Left her in the sand just a burden in my hand
I lost my head again would you cry for me, yeah
Would you cry for me?


Lyrics submitted by jt

"Burden in My Hand" as written by Chris Cornell

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Burden in My Hand song meanings
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  • +8
    My InterpretationI think all the opinions of this song are taking the song way too literally. If you know anything about Chris Cornell, his bout with heroin was his monkey on his back, and the "Burden In His Hand". He refers to the object of his addiction, (heroin), as "her", but that doesn't mean it is a woman or female creature.

    Below is a copy of the lyrics, and my interpretation. As a songwriter, lyricist and producer of 40 years, I have a good understanding of where the pain of many artists come to write about... and remember, this was in the days of the "Seattle Grunge Invasion", where most of the big musicians were into heroin. (Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain, others):
    +++++++

    "Follow me into the desert
    As thirsty as you are
    Crack a smile and cut your mouth
    And drown in alcohol"

    ---- he's asking you to follow his story of desperation regarding his addiction, his "desert". If you "smile" you "cut" your mouth because the smile is fake. You are desperate too. Drowning in alcohol is only the legal "painkiller" you can buy freely, which is why the 30% of the world population can be considered alcoholics. Drowning in booze is just another path to self destruction he knows he's on, and his "go to" solution if he can't find his heroin fix. He never admitted to using "heroin" and made his comments about his addictions strictly about "alcohol", but this song was released after his friend Kurt Cobain committed suicide, and Layne Staley overdosed, along with several other close friends he saw dropping due to addictions.


    "'Cause down below the truth is lying
    Beneath the riverbed
    So quench yourself and drink the water
    That flows below her head

    ----the "riverbed" is the source of Life, and below that, even if the riverbed is dry, you can dig "below" for water and find "truth", but there is a "lie, a deceit" that "flows below her head". What is the first big hint at what the song is in this phrase, "her head" --it means the tip of the syringe needle. He's saying you think you'll find satisfaction and relief in heroin. You think you're drinking water of "truth", but notice it's "below her head". Who is "her"? Heroin. Also, take notice that the "truth" is "BENEATH" the riverbed. It's not the real water flowing in the riverbed, its the dried up riverbed that forces you to dig to find release to your emotional pain. -----

    "Oh no there she goes
    Out in the sunshine
    The sun is mine, sun is mine
    ----- I am shooting up, the day is not rainy because I'm high and the "sun is mine"... said TWICE.

    "I shot my love today
    Would you cry for me
    I lost my head again
    Would you lie for me

    --- then he actually states he "shot" (shoot up) his "love" (heroin or other drug). Will you cry for him and his lack of control, and spiral to these depths of self-destruction? He lost his head, and if you were his friend or "hanger-on", would you "lie" for him?

    "Close your eyes and bow your head
    I need a little sympathy
    'Cause fear is strong and love's for everyone
    Who isn't me

    ---- "close your eyes" to his addictions, his failures, bow your head and say a prayer for him because he "needs a little sympathy". His fear is strong, and he thinks everyone else gets love that "isn't him".

    "Kill your health and kill yourself
    And kill everything you love
    And if you live you can fall to pieces
    And suffer with my ghost

    ---- If you follow his path, you will "kill your health and kill yourself and kill everything you love". If you "live", you will still "fall to pieces" and suffer with his own "ghost", predicting his own death, and if you're on his same path of self destruction, you will "suffer" with the memory of him dying, regardless of his rockstar status, he died unhappy, addicted, and his addictions will be his "ghost" following you.

    I shot my love today
    Would you cry for me
    I lost my head again
    Would you lie for me

    I left her in the sand
    Just a burden in my hand
    I lost my head again
    Would you cry for me

    Just a burden in my hand
    Just an anchor on my heart
    It's just a tumor in my head
    And I'm in the dark

    ----- "Just a burden in my hand" is his bottle, his syringe, his simple drugs he can fit in his "hand". It's an anchor on his heart because he doesn't want to be addicted (he's now sober). He looked at his addiction as a "tumor in his head" and that he was in the "dark" about it.

    So follow me into the desert
    As desperate as you are
    Where the moon is glued
    To a picture of heaven
    And all the little pigs have God

    ----- He's daring you to follow him into his "desert" (his desolation of addiction), as "desperate as you are" (he's relating to the pain that lures you into self-medicating with alcohol and illicit drugs). The "moon", described symbolically as a portal to a fake "heaven", and that all the people who worship money, success, fame, and beyond that, the conservative mindset of those who "judge" those addicts for their lack of strength or ability to fight off their demons by going to church, praying to God, yet still living a materialistic "piggish" life. (That's not hard to connect if you look at conservatives, how they use Jesus as their frontman, yet do nothing that Jesus would do. Be religious, and you can be as rich as Mitt Romney)

    Oh no there she goes
    Out in the sunshine
    The sun is mine, the sun is mine

    I shot my love today
    Would you cry for me, yeah
    I lost my head again
    Would you lie for me

    I left her in the sand
    Just a burden in my hand
    I lost my head again
    Would you cry for me
    Would you cry for me

    --- this last line "I left her in the sand" means he beat his addictions, they were just a "burden" in his hand. Now he's sober and having to deal with his demons without medication, booze, so the pain could be greater, but either way, would you cry for Chris Cornell?

    Would you cry for yourself?

    Chris Cornell is a prophet in the same realm as Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain.
    varangianguardon June 28, 2012   Link
  • +5
    General CommentYou are all wrong. Chris wrote this song about 'Love' being the feminine trait of every man. She he addresses 'Love' as female person throughout the song. It not about actually killing his woman, it's about killing his feelings of 'Love' to get past the pain of losing someone in a relationship.

    And the rest of the song is about not let anyone else have his heart, he buried it so no one else can hurt him with it again.

    Oh no there she goes
    Out in the sunshine the sun is mine

    Simply means that there have been a number of women trying to find his heart, but he won't allow them to. So, they wander out in the sunshine of the desert where he burried his feelings looking for it.

    'Love' to some people who have been burned by love, view 'Love' as a burden. If you could rip your heart out of your chest to not feel the pain, would you? I would, and I would burry all those feelings with it where nobody could hurt me again.
    oi81b4uu812b4on September 25, 2013   Link
  • +5
    Song MeaningChris Cornell's lyrics never make sense. He's said multiple times in multiple interviews that he has a general feeling for a song, and then he picks words that fit that meeting and sound cool when he sings them. Just look at blackhole sun, or worse, any of his audioslave stuff. It's intelligible gibberish that rymes. Which is fine, but trying to find meaning in chris cornell lyrics is just a exorcise in futility.
    charliemoppson July 14, 2014   Link
  • +3
    General Commenti think chris cornell once called this song the "Hey Joe" of the 90's, a nice sounding song but the undertones in the lyrics are sad and both refer to leaving behind or killing their love
    heliumnobeliumon August 15, 2008   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningCornell addressed this song in an interview:
    Q:After all of these years, what does "Burden In My Hand" mean to you? Is that a particularly special song?
    A: It kind of became that. That was a song that really came from the guitar itself. It was mostly like the guitar was dictating what the lyrics should be and creating a mental image. The mental image was this sort of destitute guy. I guess he'd lost his cool if you want to put it that way. He's sort of coming to grips with what had happened and not necessarily feeling particularly emotional about it either way. He's trying to figure out how he would stand up and put one foot in front of the other—or not—and the song never really resolves any of that. It's just that moment of somebody sitting in the dirt. I had more moments like that after that song was written than I ever had before it was, so it means a lot more to me now than it did then. That's true of a lot of songs, not just songs I'd written but songs I'd been a fan of. I was like an Elvis Costello freak when I was about 17-years-old. I listened to every single record and knew almost every song. It wasn't until like 20 years later that I realized I'd be listening to an Elvis Costello song and I'd be like, "Oh, I know what that means now!" [Laughs] I thought I knew what that meant before. I thought it was just words, but now I actually have experiences in my life that relate to it completely and now I understand it entirely. The funny thing is those were experiences that he had at 24-years-old. It took me to be like 38.

    artistdirect.com/entertainment-news/article/chris-cornell-of-soundgarden-looks-back-on-burden-in-my-hand/…
    Prospero2on March 24, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is incredible but ur missing one thing it's not "Where all the little pigs have gone" It's "where all the little pigs have GOD" read the lyrics on the Chris Cornell page.
    Doomsday578on October 30, 2009   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThe cool thing about great lyrics is that each person can find their own meaning. But it looks like we are all getting pretty much the same thing from it. It's a murder song that also has a freedom metaphor in it. If you are into Chris's lyrical work there is a theme of being trapped vs. liberation in a number of his songs. "Rusty cage" "Pretty Noose" "Blow up the Outside World" come to mind as being similiar in this sense to "Burden in my Hand".

    The path to spiritual liberation is lonely and painful. You have to face difficult truths and deny yourself certain comforts which you may have used to stave it off. "Follow me into the desert, as thirsty as you are" The desert is desolate, hot and barren. The Christ story has Jesus walking into the desert alone. Many a man has found that a woman can help dull his pain with her affections, yet this is only temporary and the woman, although deeply in love with him, ends up keeping him from the work he needs to do to become free. She is happy and in love, she is "out in the sunshine" that he provides her but he is not happy because she has no sunshine of her own to bring to him. "Sun is mine" It is a one-sided relationship that is unsatisfying to him and it drags him down so she's got to go.

    Also many men feel that if they only had a woman, the right woman, then they would finally be happy. But this is a very dangerous notion because no such woman exists. Happiness has to be found within oneself for it to be truly satisfying and permanent. Searching for something "out there" to bring it to you is a fool's errand which can waste years of a man's life. Again, this mythical, perfect "she" has got to go. "She" is a burden. Shoot her. Leave her in the sand. Be a man in possession of himself and quit looking for mommy.

    "Kill your health, kill yourself, kill everything you love" is another way of freeing your mind. Killing your health sets you free from fearing pain in your body. Killing yourself sets you free from your ego, your false self, your whiny, useless rebellious spirit. Killing everything you love sets you free from emotional attachments or prideful notions that are dear to you and to which you cling in fear. "and if you live you can fall to pieces and suffer with my ghost" If you survive all this "Killing" you are doing, then what you will be left with is pure, free spirit, the "ghost", which is pure consciousness unfettered by the illusions of physical matter, or one's own body. Chris Cornell, as do a lot of other heavy rock artists, writes in brutal metaphors when he speaks of matters of the spirit. This enables him to connect with people who have suffered horribly in their life and are contending with staggering amounts of unrelenting emotional pain. These people need to be comforted and talked to in a language they can understand and Chris hits the mark dead on. "I don't know why I love these songs and I don't understand the lyrics but they make feel less alone because I can feel the emotion in the music and the screaming singer is screaming for me. Someone out there knows how I feel and look what he has done with his life so there must be hope for me." Lines like "I shot my love today" "I lost my head again" connects with people whose pain is so bad it causes them to be violent and lose their cool. "I need some sympathy" The more a person does crazy things the more he is ostracized when what he needs most is to be understood, cared for and listened to. Chris Cornell is a beautiful man writing beautiful songs that help heal those among us whose wounds run deep and wide. We are lucky to have him around.

    As with a lot of lyrics in pop music, the meaning of this song deepens when a person makes a conscious choice to root out his inner demons and starts down the path of the spirit. There is a way we can live with our pain yet still live happy productive lives. The best pop music artists do nothing else but sing to illuminate this path. Their words and music ring bells inside us that can give us hope and steer us toward a life we love, or at least tolerate, if we have the ears to hear them and the courage to follow their sound.

    Heroin itself is also a way to achieve the end result of the path of the spirit, but that is cheating isn't it? That is why using the drug as a permanent way to live is a sure fire way to die. But then, maybe that's what you want. It can be liberating to not care about dying. That is why a certain percentage of heroin users are also powerful artists. Lots of songs have inadvertent heroin metaphors in them and my feeling is that is what we have here with "I shot my love today" because the metaphor fails with "would you cry for me/lie for me" These lines follow a murder scene better than a shot of junk.

    To me the song is not depressing at all. I find it exhilarating with a bittersweet edge. Leaving the burden was a good thing and I'm glad I did it but it was a messy, violent affair wasn't it?

    dedpuppyon April 24, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI see a couple different possible interpretations:

    1. He's an alcoholic and in a fit of rage he shot his girlfriend or wife. "I shot my love today" "Drown in alcohol" "I lost my head again". And no regrets it "would you cry for me". It also seems like in a moment of panic he hid the body somewhere in the desert. This could very well be his confession to the police after they bring him in to question him. In the end he's talking about all the morals he has abandoned through alcohol. "Moon glued to...heaven" "All the little pigs have god" Implies that he is not like the "little pigs" he is now godless.

    2. this is possibly less likely but more interesting. this song is based on Charles Whitman. "I shot my love today" Before Whitman went on his rampage he killed his girlfriend and mother. "So kill your health". Whitman at the time had been on various drugs that contributed a deteriorated mental state and physical health. I don't know if he was alcoholic so I'm not sure if "Drown in alcohol" fits here. "Kill everything you love" Again, he killed his mother and girlfriend but this line could also mean that he intends to continue killing (this song being his thought process leading up to the shooting). "And if you live..." again possibly means he intends to kill more. "Suffer with my ghost" as I understand it. Whitman left a note basically explaining that he hoped he would be killed. the person in this song appears to also want to be killed. Finally the lyric "Just a tumor in my head" after Whitman's autopsy it was revealed that he had an aggressive brain tumor that may have contributed to his rampage.

    as I said 2 is more interesting but I'm not sure if all of the lyrics would really be accurate for that example.
    robertBosson February 20, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentuhh...no..."drown in alcohol", how about he lost his girl because of his alcoholism? To him, its a vicious cycle, the only thing that can ease his pain is drinking, yet drinking is robbing him of his health, and of his life...like a "tumor in his head" and the bottle is becoming a burden.
    tylenolon June 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit is about drug addiction, hence the burden in the hand is a syringe. The chorus "I shot my love today, would you cry for me?" addresses the listener, or society, and views towards those who are addicted. Other lyrics describe how the person is trying to stay off drugs (desert themes and being parched) but eventually "she" gets the upper hand ("I lost my head again"), even though the addict knows this is destroying him/her ("kill health, yourself, everything you love"). Guitarist Kim Thayil, in an ironic manner, called the song "the "Hey Joe" of the '90s
    jo629on December 02, 2010   Link

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