(Credit: Charles Peterson)

How Soundgarden inspired the film ‘Feeling Minnesota’ with Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz

It’s quite common for music to be influenced by film but what is less often seen is for a cinematic picture to be influenced by music. However, the 1996 movie Feeling Minnesota is one that breaks the rule and is a true anomaly as it takes lessons from a song and puts them on the silver screen. The Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz flick was remarkably inspired by a Soundgarden track by the name of ‘Outshined’.

Even though the song was such an inspiration for the film, for some unknown reason it was left off the picture’s accompanying soundtrack, which made little to no sense. The crime-drama-comedy picture, written and directed by Steven Baigelman, stars Keanu Reeves alongside Vincent D’Onofrio, Cameron Diaz, Tuesday Weld, Dan Aykroyd, and Delroy Lindo. Feeling Minnesota tells the story of a complicated love affair between Reeves and Diaz’s characters which sees them stepping into a world of crime as the only way to survive whilst life keeps throwing roadblocks at their every move. All of which was inspired by one of the late Chris Cornell’s most touching songs.

‘Outshined’ was released several years earlier in 1991, it featured on Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger album which saw Chris Cornell and the band become musical phenomenons. The track is one of their most open and honest songs, one where Cornell really leaves himself vulnerable as he talks openly about his mental health struggles. It’s a point which is all the more poignant now and would sadly lead to his death by suicide in 2017.

The line, “I am looking California but feeling Minnesota” became Soundgarden’s most famous lyric and one that came to Cornell when he was in a pitiful mood and looked at himself in the mirror — even though he looked like he was doing great, the actuality of his life and his emotions was the complete opposite.

“I’ve never really been biographical in my lyrics,” Cornell once said in an interview. “So when I wrote a line like ‘I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota’ from ‘Outshined’, it just felt refreshing.”

“I don’t know how everyone else feels,” Cornell added. “But I definitely go through periods of extreme self-confidence, feeling like I can do anything. Perhaps a fan will sense that, like in a performance, and the hero image creeps out. But then someone will say something, however insignificant, or I’ll get something in my head and, all of a sudden, I’m plummeting in the opposite direction, I’m a piece of shit, and I really can’t do anything about it. That’s where ‘Outshined‘ comes from, and why I’ll never consider myself a hero.”

“One of the first times I remember writing something personal was on tour,” he said around the release of the film to Details Magazine in 1996. “I was feeling really freaky and down, and I looked in the mirror and I was wearing a red T-shirt and some baggy tennis shorts. I remember thinking that as bummed as I felt, I looked like some beach kid. And then I came up with that line—’I’m looking California / And feeling Minnesota,’ from the song ‘Outshined’—and as soon as I wrote it down, I thought it was the dumbest thing,” he added.

The phrase just became part of popular culture and it transcended music, there’s something in the honest simplicity of the lyric that just connected with people that saw it become part of everyday rhetoric. The line from ‘Feeling Minnesota‘ will go down as one of Cornell’s best. It’s a line that aside from inspiring any sort of disappointing film has helped to connect countless fans of the band with one another through recognition of vulnerability.

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