20.07.1964 – 18.05.2017
Writing this memorial piece is a hard thing to do. I was a massive fan of Chris Cornell and had been for many, many years. I was left stunned, then in disbelief, and finally great sorrow when I stumbled on news of his death early that morning.
I had discovered Soundgarden with their “Louder Than Love” album back around 1990. Music back then was shifting; I’d been listening to what would become “alternative rock” for some time and Soundgarden fitted right in with my tastes. Along with other bands of the time like Jane’s Addiction and Mudhoney, I liked these bands that were able to meld classic heavy rock with a punk approach. Bands like Soundgarden threw influences across the musical landscape into one pot.
When “Badmotorfinger” was released, I became a full on Soundgarden devotee. The band soundtracked the ups and downs of my student life, the good times and bad. The excellent “Superunknown” album cemented this noise in my affections even further.
Their sound evolved as Soundgarden explored and developed. The riffs could still be inhumanly heavy, but there other sounds filtering through – from the whimsical to the psychedelic. Listening to those albums was an experience that took the listener on a journey through different sounds and textures, feelings and emotions.
And of course, there was that amazing voice. Chris Cornell could croon soothingly or wail like a tormented banshee – an awe inspiring ability that added yet more colour to the band’s sound.
Following Soundgarden’s split, I followed Chris’s musical journey through his solo endeavours and work with Audioslave. I also loved his Bond theme – “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale. I’ve played that many times to psyche myself up before a challenging situation, I can tell you.
I’ve tried to edit these recollections down, but revisiting some of the touch points in my life – where the music of Chris Cornell (and band mates) has been integral – goes some way to understanding the respect I have for the man and his legacy.
Sadly, now he’s gone. I never saw Chris Cornell live (I went to Reading festival in 1994 but Soundgarden pulled out at the last minute) and I’d been looking forward to more music in the future.
It’s heart breaking to know that Chris is gone, and there’s no more music. We’ve reached the end of that journey. But what a legacy he’s left. I’ll revisit those records again and again. Though full of reminiscences of my past, those songs and performances are immortal.
I won’t speculate on the nature of Chris’s death, it’s not my place. There are dark places that the human soul can go to. It’s just incredibly sad.
Thanks for the music, Chris Cornell. An exceptional musician who has left an indelible mark on millions of us.
No one sings
Like you anymore”