Thursday, June 1, 2017

On Cornell

I should have posted something a week ago about the last minute success of Dino Force and the great supporters that brought it to life. I didn't. I should have made at least a mention of my impending move and the need to lay off posting and writing for most of the last 2 weeks. I didn't.

On the 18th of May, Chris Cornell took his own life, whether under the influence or not, ending one of the greatest voices of our generation.

Chris was always a weird artist for me. I can date my first hearing Soundgarden way back to Pump Up the Volume, a surprisingly excellent Christian Slater vehicle from 1990. But it was almost certainly his work alongside Eddie Vedder with the song "Hunger Strike" that made me start to connect with him. I am still a huge fan of Temple of the Dog, the one off project Cornell produced as a tribute to a lost friend. Now it seems to come full circle as Cornell's own friends seek ways to pay tribute to him, much as I seek to do here in my own way.

I always had a fondness for his voice, but I can never say that his work with Soundgarden or Audioslave really were what I wanted from him. "Blow Up the Outside World" and "Be Yourself" are both amazing songs, but I always found the extended catalogs of both bands to be a bit lacking. But with Chris's solo work, I connected the most. His collaboration with Timbaland on the Scream album (as well as the "Scream" single) is one of those great songs that I seemed to connect with even when no one else in the world even seemed to like it.

As I listened back on his work, both alone and with his varied groups, stretching from "Hunger Strike" in 91 until "Never Forget My Broken Heart" last year, it was clear where I saw the connections.

So much of Chris Cornell's music was built around depression. Both living with it and wanting to escape it by any means necessary. I know so many fans that just appreciated the brooding aspect of all of it, but it's something that connected with me on an intimate level. I've fought depression in any number of ways over the years and I could link my mind with the messy images of life Chris brought to life with his lyrics and his always stirring delivery of them.

Chris Cornell knew pain. He channeled pain. He made art of his battle with madness.

God, it feels so familiar.

It's funny that the realization never quite punched me in the face until the world suddenly didn't have Chris Cornell. Already in a miasma with packing and moving, I found myself listening to song after song after song and just feeling the pain he felt everyday and in every word. He delivered those songs in concert often at an insane schedule. It's easy to see how such a thing could catch up with him. His history with self-medication may have been involved, but Cornell never stopped being a man that carried his demons on his shoulder.

He lasted 53 years with those monsters weighing him down. His loss makes me question my own fortitude, but at the same time, his life makes me want to create and thrive. Through the creative process I can find strength. If Chris Cornell's music leaves me one legacy it is that.

Godspeed, Chris.

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