Origin and recording
"Spoonman" was originally written for the soundtrack to the 1992 film Singles. At this time, Soundgarden, along with fellow alternative rock band Pearl Jam, was working on the soundtrack for the film. Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament had been put in charge of creating the name for a fictional band that would appear in the film. Before finally choosing Citizen Dick for its name, Ament had compiled a list of potential names which included the name "Spoonman". The name was inspired by Artis the Spoonman, a street performer from Santa Cruz, California and later Seattle, Washington, who plays music with a set of spoons. Soundgarden vocalist and songwriter Chris Cornell eventually used the names on the list to create songs for the film. "Spoonman" was among these, and an acoustic version was created from it. This early version of the song can be heard during a scene in the film in which a poster advertising a Citizen Dick show is stapled to a lightpost.
Rather than just leave the song on the film's soundtrack, Soundgarden began working on an electric version of "Spoonman". The song's inspiration, Artis the Spoonman, played a prominent role in the song itself. The final version of the song featured Artis the Spoonman playing his spoons as part of the song's bridge. Drummer Matt Cameron also plays pots and pans on the song. Bassist Ben Shepherd performs backing vocals on the song.