Anyone that knows me knows that I love rock music. Rock n roll was my first love and I came into it the same way a lot of kids do: as a way to rebel against their parents or any authority. I grew up listening to funk, jazz, and gospel mostly and wasn’t really allowed to listen to anything else secular. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio without my parent's supervision even. But that all changed one day when I was about 10 years old and my mom put on Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ record. From there I got into different genres and different bands; from heavy metal to punk rock to grunge, I ate it all up. I even took guitar and drum lessons so I could play like my idols. Speaking of grunge, though, even though I am a Detroit native there was a time where I lived out in Los Angeles and had to attend high school there. It was then that I discovered grunge music. My friend Denise and Will were both heavy into grunge and through them, I got into Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam (my favorite) and Soundgarden. Soundgarden is the reason I am writing this piece or, I should say, Chris Cornell, is actually.
I’m still very much in shock but it is with an incredibly heavy heart that I wish one of rock’s greatest vocalists goodbye. Hours after Soundgarden performed, from what I hear was an AMAZING show at the FOX Detroit, Chris Cornell was found dead in his MGM hotel bathroom. His death is currently being ruled a suicide by hanging. He is the fourth front man of a grunge band to die following Kurt Cobain, Layne Stanley, and Scott Weiland. This one really hit me hard honestly, not only because Soundgarden was one of the heavy hitters that ushered in the era of grunge but just because, as cliche, as it sounds, their music and Cornell’s voice just got me through a lot of hard shit. I don't talk about it a lot but I grew up with two drug addicted parents in not so nice conditions. So the heavy riffs and guitar solos with Cornell’s almost bluesy soulful voice leading the way was comforting .Even though grunge itself is very brash and sometimes dark, Cornell brought a beauty and vulnerability to Soundgarden's music that resonates with 15-year-old Courtney. Grunge itself is unique in that way I would say, coming out of an era where we saw a lot of bands with big hair, leather pants, and sexy video girls; grunge was still abrasive but the lyrics were also introspective and would cover topics like suicide, hunger, and relationships. One of my favorite songs is actually Temple of the Dogs 'Hunger Strike'. The lyric "I don't mind stealing bread from the mouth of decadence" is probably my favorite thing anyone has ever said in a song. And growing up poor I heard that and thought yeah ok maybe some people do care about us not so fortunate souls. The subject matter of their music ranged from political, to poetic, to sad to angry. And, also, without Soundgarden, my favorite band, Pearl Jam, may not have even existed!
In 1991 Cornell also started a bit of a supergroup called Temple of the Dog with Stone Gossard on rhythm guitar, Jeff Ament on bass, Mike McCready on lead guitar, and Matt Cameron on drums with Eddie Vedder providing backup vocals. He started Temple of the Dog as a tribute to the late Andrew Wood who was the lead singer of Mother Love Bone. It was a year later, in 1992, that Gossard, Ament, McCready and Vedder would form Pearl Jam. Chris Cornell started the band Soundgarden in 1984 with bandmates Hiro Yamamoto and Kim Thayil. Hailing from Seattle, the band was one of the first to usher in the era of grunge music. He formed Audioslave in 2001 and released four solo albums from 1999 to 2011. Cornell also co-wrote and performed the James Bond theme song in Casino Royale and received a Golden Globe nomination for his song 'The Keeper' which appeared in the movie ‘Machine Gun Preacher’. Cornell was a very talented musician with a big voice and an extensive songwriting catalog.
I can’t believe he’s gone and I am not even sure what I want to say here. I’m fucking sad and don’t wanna dive too heavy into the band's history. There isn’t much I can say about Chris himself that you can’t learn about in interviews and articles and archival footage either. I guess it’s just one of those things where you try to process and understand(?). Maybe I’m writing this to get it out into the universe and maybe wherever Chris is, it’ll reach him along with prayers, and well wishes. It’ll reach him and he’ll know he didn’t leave here without making an impact.
I’ll leave you with five faves of my songs from his very long career
Black Hole Sun- DUH
Hand of God
Tears to Forget