Sunday, May 21, 2017

RIP Chris Cornell.

The death of Chris Cornell came as a shock to me, as I'm sure it did to most people who were fans of his music. It hit me really hard because at one point in the 90's, when I was going through a dark time of my own, songs from Soundgarden's "Superunknown" made me realize that I wasn't alone. The lyrics were all about exorcising personal demons that plague you and overcoming the dark thoughts that hold you back in life. The song, "The Day I Tried to Live" saved my life.

Aside from the lyrical content that I could relate to, Soundgarden was also the most musically accomplished band from that era. They were rhythmically and melodically complex. Cornell's voice had a four octave range that is hard to match. Having that versatility and range is one thing but being able to write such great songs that employ it perfectly is a gift that very few people have.

If you know his music, you'll know that Chris Cornell always laid his demons bare in his lyrics. There was a brutal honesty to it, like he had to bare his soul or he would die. It was always stark and direct, no metaphors or hidden meanings. He wasn't Kurt Cobain or Layne Staley. There were no stream of consciousness or nonsensical ramblings of a junkie. All his lyrics were dead serious, intelligent and well thought out. Most of them dealt with mortality and trying to overcome demons. That's why I never thought he could ever kill himself no matter how dark it seemed. Purging demons through song is a healthy exercise. Many have adopted it, including myself.

I'll never judge anyone who goes through darkness and depression because they can't explain it themselves. You can have everything in life and still be suicidal. The chemical imbalance in the brain just won't let you lift yourself out of the doldrums. It's not the same as having family problems or monetary woes that drive you off the cliff. Unlike Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley and Scott Weiland, Chris Cornell was not a junkie. He was healthy and clean by all accounts and had young children and a loving family to live for. His band Soundgarden was in the middle of a successful sold out tour. That is what makes it all the more perplexing.

As well adjusted and happy as he seemed, the darkness was always there, as evident even from his latest music. Darkness will never completely leave you even in the best of times, if you are predisposed to it. You can only distract yourself from it by keeping busy and surrounding yourself with family and good people. Unfortunately, no one was there in that hotel room when his demons finally got the best of him.

Rest in peace Chris! Thanks for the music. It has saved lives and will live on forever. May your children be well loved and taken care of.