I love music, and I'm sure you know that by now. When I wrapped up my Music Challenge last week, I made mention that I would possibly be starting a new feature weekly about music. What I didn't figure out at that time was what it would be about. I thought it would be a list of 5 songs or something I liked, or from certain years, or artists. After I published my last music post last week, sadly, my theme for this week fell into my lap.
As I start to write this I still can't think of the words to write. Last week music lost a great voice in singer Chris Cornell. That's the basic thesis most people have wrote since his untimely death since ruled a suicide, but that byline isn't just hollow words- it also has a much deeper impact to me that I care to admit.
If you recall on my last post, I talked about how Jon Foreman's voice I could listen to all day. Truth is, there were a couple other names that would be considered for that entry, and Chris Cornell was one of those names. I was just 12 years old when Kurt Cobain died, and it didn't have a profound impact on me. I understood the sadness and disbelief that many felt when hearing the news, but it didn't resonate with me because partly I was young, but more importantly, I never was much of a fan of Nirvana. When I thought of the Seattle grunge scene as it would be later referred to as, I immediately thought of Soundgarden, and then I usually thought of Alice In Chains. I think I liked Soundgarden more than Nirvana because Chris Cornell had more range than Kurt Cobain, and I also understood the lyrics to Soundgarden songs. At any rate, when I just happened to see the Chris Cornell died last week, I suddenly felt what all those Nirvana fans felt 23 years ago- the same sadness, and disbelief.
So today I will feature 5 songs from Chris Cornell that I enjoy, but first I'll talk a little bit about what I think of when I hear his name.
Many people immediately jumped to Soundgarden and Audioslave when they mentioned he died. Truth be told, being a part of either band would be a major accomplishment for any musician, but being a part of both is tremendous. For me though, I was never a fan of Audioslave, despite Cornell's vocals, the band just didn't do anything for me. I have revisited their stuff in the last few days, and I will say that they had much better songs than I remember, but then again, if you ask anybody to name an Audioslave song, they'd be hard pressed to name one. It amazed me even more that some people were even blind to who Soundgarden is, and they even admitted that while it was sad, they never heard of "the guy". It shows that you could really excel in an entertainment industry, but still haven't reached an audience you thought you have. My rambling on this is taking away from my original thought, that while many thought of his two bands he was most famous for, I immediately thought of his solo work. Anybody who has major success with groups as a lead singer will surely garner enough attention to have a successful solo album, but he did it with ease.
Last year many celebrities died, including many musicians. As much as it was sad that David Bowie, Prince, and others passed away, and my initial shock, almost a week later, and I still can't really comprehend that Chris Cornell is no longer alive. When I heard it, I thought it was an ugly rumor. Then as news outlets reported it, I started to realize it was true. Then trying to get as much information as I could, I found news stations from Detroit (where he died) and watched to see if they had updates. That's when I first heard they believed it was suicide. I was appalled that a new outlet would be so callous to spread these rumors so quickly after his death. However as the morning hours went on, it became less rumors and more of a reality. Even today I'm still reading news reports to find out more about what happened, not because I am morbid, but I just have a hard time believing he would take his own life. I came up with many ideas how it could have happened, but never why it happened. Even now the latest theory I have makes me out to be a conspiracy theorist, but I just can't believe he'd do it. I read that he had been taking a drug that made him act out of character lately, and read that the pill could have gave him suicidal thoughts. It's my only guess that makes me think he could have done it. He beat many addictions in his life, he had a loving family, even had a foundation he started with his wife. His band Soundgarden was on tour, and even planned on releasing a new album, and also talks of another reunion with Audioslave. It just seemed like an odd timing for him to commit suicide. On top of that, I've been hearing about it all week, but I haven't heard one thing about a suicide note. Not so much of a peep from band mates about how he had been erratic. It just seems fishy to me.
Having said all that though, depression can strike people in many different ways, and for many suicide seems to be the only choice they think they have. Some people are very good at hiding depression, so we may never know if he struggled with it. What I do know is that for many years, I didn't feel much remorse for those that committed suicide. Not even ones that overdosed, as I called it "accidental suicide". It was just something I couldn't fathom. How could one think that suicide is the best option. I've rarely talked about this, but in high school I had thoughts of it, but it wasn't nothing serious. I always believed it was the coward's way out. I felt that way for many years. Then over the years I started to see it happen more and more. Finally one day while I was at work on a break I looked on Facebook and saw that one of my friends had committed suicide. A guy that seemed to have it all, and that I was working with probably a year or so earlier. It hit me like a ton of bricks. To this day it still brings back the pain of that day, and the day of his funeral. It made me realize though that you never know what is in the mind of others, and having the attitude that it's the coward's way out is a mistake.
I know I am venturing way off track here, but let me just say, that Chris Cornell's death has so many things racing through my mind that if you were to ask me to sum up the last week in one word, it would be stunned. I think it is overused somewhat these days, but I can't think of a better word. I have sat in silence more in the last week, than I have in the last couple years. Its rare for me to not have the radio or TV on, but I have really sat in silence a lot trying to think of words to say, and I really can't. So the best thing to do is to let the music make the case on why I'll miss Chris Cornell so much.
I've listened to this song half a dozen times this week, and could put it on loop and never get tired of it. I'll be honest though, before last week, I didn't know anything about Temple of the Dog other than Chris Cornell was in the band. A brief history though: Cornell's former roommate was in a couple Seattle bands in the 80s before he died in 1990. After he passed, Cornell joined the a couple of the band mates and made this album as sort of a tribute to their friend. It was only one album, and a few months later the other band mates joined a new band called Pearl Jam. With the success of Pearl Jame and Soundgarden, A&M decided to release this album, and Hunger Strike got airplay. I never realized the other vocalist on this song was Eddie Vedder, who was the front man for Pearl Jam.
While not probably considered the best song, this is possibly my favorite Soundgarden song growing up. Among all the songs I've listened to in the past week, this actually hasn't been one of them, but its still one I think deserves a listen.
The only song I've listened to more this week than Hunger Strike is Black Hole Sun. I've shed a few tears each time too. This is the essential song to listen to if you don't know anything about Chris Cornell or Soundgarden. It showcases their sound, but more importantly, Chris's beautiful voice and his range. I've listened to an acoustic version of it a few times, but it doesn't compare to this. This song could really be in contention of best songs ever if we're being honest. Its simple beat epitomizes the Seattle sound so many mention. It never crossed my mind until someone made a comment on a site that three of the pioneers of the Seattle sound- Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) are all gone. Let that sink in for a while. To go a step further and think of other 90's bands like Blind Melon (Shannon Hoon), Sublime (Bradley Nowell), Stone Temple Pilots (Scott Weiland), The Gits (MIa Zapata, another Seattle export), Jani Lane (Warrant), Dave Brockie (GWAR), all of whom have passed on, and those are just lead singers. There are countless others, and suddenly all the music of the 90's is gone.
The thing about Audioslave that I never cared for is that they were billed a supergroup. I never cared much for that term, or the idea of members of a bunch of successful bands joining as one to make an album. I'm fine with them doing a random show or something together, but to me it takes away from their other bands and accomplishments. However, while I didn't listen to them too much, I appreciated the music Audioslave made. The thing is though is the in this video, as good as Chris is, Tom Morello totally steals the show with his solo. I think in the months ahead, I might give them another shot, regretting what I passed over all those years ago.
I really liked Chris' solo work. It really allowed him to show off more of his range than Soundgarden did, and you could hear it. This is probably the song most heard when they mentioned his solo work, but I still think a lot of it was overlooked.
This one is really tough to watch. Especially after hearing how he died. If you haven't watched it yet, in the video, Cornell is to be hung with a noose (its an Old West concept), but the rope breaks and he escapes. Again, very tough to watch, but there is an appearance from Eric Roberts in it so that is a plus I guess. This is one of his more recent solo songs from a couple years ago, and one of the better songs from 2015 to be honest.
There are many more video's to post, but I'll only show a couple more. One is the inspiration for the blog post, the other is a great cover.
Among all of his solo work, my favorite song he did was this one called Sunshower. I read that he never released it as a single, but I do remember hearing it often on the radio, and that's how I found it. I might have to look for the album its on and get it. I don't know why it stands out so much to me, but something about it that I like more than others.
The final song is one I just heard after he passed, and an acoustic version of a song wrote by an artist who passed away last year.
I think Cornell did an amazing job covering this song wrote by Prince and most famously sung by Sinead O'Conner. It showcases his range yet again, and it is a great way to close the book on the musical tribute to an artist that I will never forget.
Rest in Peace Chris Cornell. I hope you know how much joy you brought to many fans.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day. I seriously hope to be blogging about cards again soon. I just felt a need to post this today.