A very special Throw Back Thursday…..
No doubt a million of our tribe has shared in the sadness that comes with losing an artist that may have been held close to the heart. Someone that was a mainstay on your favorite playlist, or popped up more than most on shuffle, or you just happened to love anything and everything they distributed to the masses. For some, those artists have found a way to speak a language meant for each individual, making each and every note personal. For many of us, that artist was Chris Cornell.
Now, I never knew the guy, but he was ‘the voice’ that served as a conduit, and mainstay, that fueled my love of music over the past 30 years. All of his offerings, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, James Bond Soundtracks, Cornell solo and yes, even his Scream record… with Timbaland throwing rhymes in the background, were monoliths of stomping sound. His arc was so broad that he could paint new landscapes on pop classics and find the blues in covers of “Nothing Compares 2 U”, and “Billie Jean”…. Or…. He could scream with Satan in the corners of hell, bare-chested and brutal where every fiber of his body would convulse and his neck muscles contract to showcase new heights of tension. Simply put, he was one of the greatest singers in rock history, and certainly the person we should all point to when asked ‘who is the greatest rock singer of the past 30 years?”
For a moment, all the women wanted him, and all the men wanted to be him. He had amazing range and could strip paint with his howl. When Superunknown came out and “Black Hole Sun” was everywhere, the band and Cornell, became synonymous with the best times my of high school years where all of us had the same cassette tape and we all wore it out simultaneously while getting drunk on Boones and Jack Daniel’s in my friend’s basement. As I’ve gotten older, Badmotorfinger is the album that I put on in my car, when I’m alone and I just want to sing to the windows. I can pretend with the best of them, but I end up choking when trying to hit the notes on the chorus of “Slave and Bulldozers”. I scare my family when I sing “Pretty Noose”. I sound like a dying cat during “Birth Ritual”.
All that to say… that I have vested 30 years into listening to Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, or whatever else associated with Chris Cornell. I finally got to see them play live at Fort Rock on April 30th and I was 5 feet from where his microphone stood on stage. He sounded solid, still hit all the notes, and gave me chills during “Outshined”. I am one of those that listen to the band on shuffle at least once a day. I am one of the few that gave props to the Scream album as some philosophical, creative… thing… that I didn’t totally understand, but went with it anyway…
I am a fan, and whenever that aura of something that has helped to imprint the movement of sound around you…and then embed on your thoughts as you grow old; one that has augmented so many life experiences with the meaning of the songs changing through periods of your life; whenever that steady constant moves on, it’s ok to be a little upset. When many of us hear “Spoonman”, or “Burden in My Hand”, or “Hands All Over”, we associate that song with a moment. It acts as a time machine, it picks us up, transports us to wherever and whenever we need to be, and offers us pause to reflect and be thankful. We should all be very thankful.
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