The first thing that I read this morning was the title of an article on my phone. It sadly and succinctly stated:
“Sudden and Unexpected: Soundgarden Frontman Chris Cornell Dies at Age 52”
I blurted out “OH MY GOD!”
……………………………and then I went numb.
Sometime in the spring of 1990, I came across a copy of the Soundgarden album “Louder than Love”. Like so much music that would discover early on, it came to me as a copy of the original. It was another dirty covered cassette with the titles of the songs handwritten on the cardboard insert. Found music is new music. New music is good. Free, new music was even better. It immediately went into the cassette player of my ’88 Escort.
I know what you’re thinking. Escort? That’s so Rock and Roll \m/
Yeah, it is.
The production was different than everything that I knew up to that point. The guitars and bass were out front. It was heavy…Sabbath heavy, but it was more punk. They had what sounded like the son of a “banshee” singing. He wasn’t another Robert Plant wannabe clone. He wasn’t in the 80s Hair Metal mold by any stretch of the imagination. His voice sounded like it was being blown through a valley between the mountains of the guitar and bass.………that voice. It was massive, but never too out front in the mix.
At this point, I didn’t know too much about the Seattle music scene. None of us did. I had heard some Mudhoney and Queensryche. I had even heard rumblings about a band called Mother Love Bone that was due to break in the next few months.
This was none of those.
That cassette tape slowly rolled through my car stereo regularly until its fateful demise one late night in the parking lot of Huck Finn donuts.
Chris would write and record a tribute to his roommate and friend Andrew Wood in 1991 – Temple of the Dog – with his band mates. He would also invite their new lead singer to join him – Eddie Vedder. He helped nurture an entire scene that would blow up the entire Rock status quo. Later that year, the band released Badmotorfinger. It would go Double Platinum, The world would come to Soundgarden. They would go on to sell more than 22 million records in their time.
The secret was out; they were no longer just mine.
In ’92 the band would appear in Cameron Crowe’s Singles (the scariest fucking movie ever made – don’t argue with me – just run with it).
1994 brought a #1 album with Superunknown and a rash of MTV videos.
I’m not telling any of you anything that you don’t already know. You all know the rest: the breakup, new bands, new projects and reunions. .
……….but it was always that voice.
Over the past 10-12 years, I discovered two albums. They were both solo acoustic performances of Chris Cornell (Unplugged in Sweden and Songbook).
They are so naked and beautiful.
…….that fucking voice.
Soundgarden played in Detroit last night. The last song that they performed was a ‘Slave and Bulldozers’. They added in a refrain from Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying”.
“In my time of dying, I want nobody to mourn
All I want for you to do is take my body home”
Reports are now coming in confirming that his death was a suicide.
Godspeed on your trip home Chris.