Swede Oblivion bootleg, 1993
While on a world tour to promote their breakthrough album Sweet Oblivion, Screaming Trees stopped into Swedish radio station Radiohuset for an interview and a four song unplugged set. They played the first two singles, “Nearly Lost You” and “Dollar Bill”, as well as “No One Knows” and this track, “Winter Song”. The hits are pretty close to studio renditions, beyond the lack of fuzz and the slightly questionable use of what appear to be bongos. They’re good, but nothing revelatory; a curio. “No One Knows” loses some of its anthemic qualities, but holds true to its tempo and Mark Lanegan sells it like the fine balladeer he is.
However, “Winter Song” is something different. On Sweet Oblivion, it’s a mid-tempo psych tune like dozens that are peppered throughout the Trees catalog, akin to “Walk Through This Side” or “Cold Rain”. But unplugged, de-psyched, and wah-wahless, it’s a different thing altogether. In this version, as the tempo slows the darkness rises. It seems the drums and a gnarly solo on the original kept the despair from hammering itself through the listener’s skull. Stripped down for this radio show the bleakness is pretty unbearable.
I love it.