I’d only been up for an hour or so before the news started breaking through of the passing of Chris Cornell of Soundgarden shortly after a show. He’d been an influence and an inspiration for me, and to quite a few of my close friends too. I was describing a to friend of mine how his singing reminded me so much of Cornell, meaning it as a really high compliment which I knew he understood. Now I can just see the stunned news reflected in the news feed of my friends, all of us shocked, all of us sharing stories, all of us trying to find it hard to digest what has happened.
Cornell has always been in my life since I was a teenager, Soundgarden being one one of the first bands I got into without anyone else nudging me in their direction. I loved their music but for me, it was Cornell’s voice that drew me in. I can still listen to it now and get shivers, it’s like he’s singing from his soul. He could articulate what I was feeling in a voice that could range from a whisper to a full on roar.
I remember seeing the video for ‘Hands All Over’ on late night TV and the impact of the guitars and THAT voice left me stunned. I’d soon picked up the single on 12″ vinyl (remember when bands did those kids?) and pretty soon I had the cassette of their ‘Louder Than Love’ album, something that me and my friend Mark listened to a lot. Grunge was just starting to peak it’s head out and I was already starting to get hooked.
Chris was heavily involved with the Temple Of The Dog album, written by himself as a tribute to his friend Andy Wood of the band Mother Love Bone who’d passed away. He was backed on the album by Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and members of MLB (who incidentally went on to become Pearl Jam). The album, a requiem to loss, helped me with the passing of my grandad. Cornell’s voice helped soothe the sadness I felt inside, made me realise it was okay to grieve but to also remember the good times.
In a strange moment of synchronicity, I listened a lot to the Temple Of The Dog album a few weeks ago after the passing of my gran. Again, his voice and words helped soothe and console me.
His work with Soundgarden and Temple Of The Dog were his highpoints for me, but he also did some great work fronting Audioslave as well as a solo artist. Hell, he also did a Bond theme song. There’s an acoustic bootleg called ‘Unplugged In Sweden’ which is just him and available acoustic guitar which is a great showcase for him and his talent.
It’s starting to come to light that he has killed himself. I’m finding it hard to absorb the news, my hands are griping the headrest of the bus seat in front of me so tight. I’ve got Soundgarden on my headphones to try and remember the joy his voice brought but all I can feel is the emptiness his passing has left. I feel such sadness for family.
I was genuinely saddened at his passing, just as I was when Johnny Cash or David Bowie passed away. His talent was incredible, the range and power of his voice was just breathtaking. He was always there to sing me songs of peace, and he always will be. We’ll have his songs forever. But we’ll have nothing new from him, nothing that will reflect him getting older and his view on the world. I’ll miss that opportunity.
Sleep tight Chris…….