Slept a little later than usual, thank God, popped a pod in the Keurig, and fired up my iPad. As I opened the WaPo, the Twitter feed said everything I didn’t want to hear. Chris Cornell dead at 52.
I lay no claim to the biggest Cornell or Soundgarden fan. I don’t think I’ve listened to more than three Audioslave songs in my life. But I’d have to be deaf not to know Cornell’s octaves-spanning voice as it took over whatever song he was performing.
What if Paul McCartney died? Or Mick Jagger? What will the headlines say when Dylan is gone?
No, Chris Cornell will not be remembered with any of them, except around here. Soundgarden was through and through a Seattle band. Cornell grew up in Shoreline and attended high school at Shorewood, not far from my childhood home. Of the Seattle bands of the “grunge” era, Soundgarden formed earliest in 1984, they were also first to sign with a major label. Cornell’s story, and his band’s success is the city’s success. No he wasn’t McCartney, or Townsend, or Jagger or Dylan, but he’s one of our own.
Word came mid-day the Detroit authorities ruled Cornell’s death a suicide. Hanging. He’d performed with Soundgarden a few hours before. The news was a shock to his friends and family.
What leads a man to take his own life while still in his prime, on top of his game and on top of the world? We can’t know. We can never understand. As one who has had a family devastated by suicide, it is a deep black hole for everyone concerned, and no light of understanding escapes from it. For his bandmates and friends, for his wife and three children, I offer my deepest sympathies. For Cornell I can only hope things are better on the other side.
Now if only I could find my copy of Euphoria Morning. Shit.