There’s this projection I had with Andy, Kurt, Jeff Buckley and other friends of mine that died of looking into the future at all these amazing things they’re going to do. I’ll never be able to predict what that is.
When Bowie died last year, I felt an incredible sense of loss. I did not grow up with his music but his was arguably the most important oeuvre in my young adulthood as I went through the usual search for identity and my place in the world.
In my formative years though, it was the 90s Seattle bands and their ilk that had my devotion: Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Alice In Chains and, of course, Soundgarden. Many of my heroes from that era have already been taken from us, but none hurt like this one. Kurt Cobain, killed himself so early I could only have processed that through my teenage angst. Layne Staley, tragic and inevitable. Mike Starr, sadly forgotten. Chris Cornell, though, accompanied my long stumble into adulthood (some say I’m still stumbling) and I was looking forward to growing old with his music.
When news first broke we were all thinking the years of abuse must have taken their toll. Then it turned out it was suicide and we could scarcely believe it. We thought that maybe he was one of the few who made it through to a better place. That perhaps his seeming comfort with being the full-throated, bare-chested metal god just might be able to overcome the darkness he seemed to have shared with his peers. His wife thinks the drug anti-anxiety drug Ativan caused him to kill himself. Did he have too much of it? Did his dark lyrics that helped me and countless others make it fail to heal his own soul and the drug nudged him over the edge into the abyss? Or maybe it wasn’t even the drug, maybe this was a long time coming.
And now one of the greatest voices of his generation is gone. I would give a lot to be like a teenager in the 90s again when every few months it seemed an album would come along and blow my plastic, impressionable mind. Even so the trio of Superunknown, Badmotorfinger and Louder Than Love were thunderclaps in an overcast sky of amazing music.
Thank you, Chris Cornell, and goodbye.