That’s really what it boils down to in my mind when I first heard the news of Chris’ passing, at age 52. I was sitting with a friend of mine having coffee, and he is on his phone, not talking, we’re just sipping said coffee. Then of all sudden, he says to me, “hey Chris Cornell is dead”. My reaction? Well, my friend is a big fibber and likes to plainly say things that really aren’t true just to get a rise, and he has a way of saying things so matter of factly that you can really believe it. So I am used to this challenging behavior from him, and I quickly scoff at him and say “yeah ok there”. Then he shows me an article online that he was reading where that indeed was the headline. My next reaction? HOAX!
As we know now, since that May 18th day, in the year of 2017, it is no hoax, it is no joke, it is a total loss: Chris Cornell had died.
Unfortunately starting back in the year 2016, we as a collective public have sadly gotten used to the deaths of many of our iconic musicians due to many different circumstances, and we can say that even though they were unexpected, with many of them we knew there was some illness leading up to it or something was going on in their personal lives and then when death came, we didn’t realize it was that severe but we could say, it was something you could see coming, even at some point. With Chris, I, speaking only for me of course, this was a TOTAL AND COMPLETE SHOCK OUT OF NOWHERE. Sorry to shout, but I really mean it!
To my knowledge, he wasn’t (physically) ill, wasn’t known that he may be struggling with some internal or mental pressures, and I wasn’t aware he was on any medications. Again, I do not know him, have never met him, am not in his inner circle, but in this nothing’s private society, I would think that news about him or him struggling would be slapped all over the news. Don’t get me wrong: that would not be a good thing. All I am saying is there was no warning. Not to my eyes. If you out there reading this had an inkling or saw something, well…what can I say?
So I sit here writing my thoughts to computer screen, listening to Soundgarden of course, and right now it’s Jesus Christ Pose playing in my headphones. I’m going to throw on some Audioslave too to boot. I was a huge fan when they came and finally got their album out in 2002. I had just moved to Ottawa Ontario Canada, and was just starting college. I didn’t end up staying in college, but the music stayed with me. I liked Audioslave from the first song that I heard, the single ‘Cochise’ and right down to their last single ‘Revelations’ which I thought was just an amazing song and one of the best I heard in 2006 when pure melodic rock and roll needed it the most. Rock radio was getting over Nu-Metal and well, Nickelback, and this song and that band to me was a kick in the arse that was solely needed, and I was sorry of course they broke up but as always, thankful for the music. I know people derided them as Rage Against the Machine with new vocalist Chris Cornell, but hey, people think and like what they will or won’t, right? It’s great music and it was a nice new direction to go in after Soundgarden stopped in 1997.
Now I am listening to ‘Outshined’. Probably my favorite Soundgarden song. It was the first song/music video I had seen when I first got satellite TV in 1998 and that is a fond memory, then and now.
Chris Cornell is in all the music we hear, and he and his band(s) have given us some of our and the world’s best music, and you may not even realize it until you really think of it. Don’t forget a little band by the name of Temple of the Dog. That itself was a tribute to Chris’ friend, singer Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone). They did some reunion shows this past year, even though I didn’t see them in person, the clips on YouTube were great for what I saw and ‘Hunger Strike’ will also be a classic on rock radio as well. The only thing missing from that was that Eddie Vedder was not there to sign the refrains but that is not here or there. In my opinion, now we need Pearl Jam to do some sort of Soundgarden tribute. I might be the only one, but I certainly would not mind hearing Vedder do some versions of Soundgarden songs, either live or on a tribute album. Again, just my thoughts on a computer screen.
Now I am listening to Audioslave ‘Revelations’ and ‘Show Me How to Live’.
I would be re-missed if I didn’t mention some of Chris’ solo work. I will be honest and say that it wasn’t always my cup of tea, but if you haven’t heard his cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’, well you are missing out. Don’t miss out any longer; he does a total re-imagining of the song and changes the arrangement completely and does a beautiful job with this. It’s refreshing when an artist can do that. Covers are a mixed bag for me. I like it when the artist covering it stays close to the original but do it in their ‘style’ and that makes it interesting to me. I also like when they take a risk and totally stretch out and change up the arrangement and make it truly like a different song. Chris did that with Billie Jean – if you didn’t recognize the words, you wouldn’t know that it was the same song! In fact, I dare say that the way he changed up the tone and tempo of the song, even the lyrical delivery has changed in his arrangement and you really need to listen close to figure that it is a song by Michael Jackson. Think of both artists. Big differences between them, am I right?
Listening to Temple of the Dog ‘Hunger Strike’. What did you expect?
I missed Chris Cornell, even though I do not know him or have met him, from the moment I heard of his passing. I missed that I would never get new music from him. But as I type this and think it, I feel selfish for saying so, because what I think of next is his family, his wife and children, who he won’t be coming home to tonight. We have his music but they no longer have him.
So listen loud and proud, and let his voice blast through you, through your home and through your life. I will be and so will people the world over.
Chris Cornell, all I can say is Thank You. May you be out there in peace.
Listening to Chris Cornell solo – ‘Can’t Change Me’