What a cool version of “Black Hole Sun”, I thought. There was some jazzy guy singing the Soundgarden classic on WFUV as I drove to pick up my 8th grader from school. As I sat in the car I thought about how perfectly this awesome Grunge song lent itself to a jazz version.
My son arrived and got in the car as the DJs started talking about acknowledging Chris Cornell with the song.
“Acknowledge”? That was a strange word to use. Was it his birthday? Why didn’t they just say it was his birthday?
So close to the anniversary of Prince’s death and so many others’ recently, I panicked.
“Oh my God!” I screamed, with my son beside me. “Did he die?!!! Did he die?!!!”
My son grabbed his phone and within seconds he read that Chris Cornell had hung himself the night before.
Back in the summer of 1989 when I had just gotten back from my Junior year abroad in Seville, my first memory upon my return was of a few of my sisters in our living room playing Nirvana.
“You have to hear this. Isn’t this amazing?” It was.
I quickly made a mixed tape entitled “I can’t believe how much music I missed”. (Remember it was 1989 so the Indigo Girls were also on that tape.) I listened to Nirvana all summer and was hooked.
The Grunge movement was just starting so it was not that surprising when I returned to the University of WI and my close friend and roommate told me about her brother’s Grunge band from Seattle. He was the guitarist. They were getting big on the college circuit and would be playing in Madison soon. Her brother was/is Kim Thayil and their band rivaled Nirvana, as we all now know.
Soundgarden’s Super Unknown was one of the soundtracks to my early twenties in college but I didn’t leave the band there. I continued listening to them with headphones on my giant walkman as I ran around the reservoir in central Park as a single woman in the City and later as a mom with four kids when their CD resurfaced at a yard sale due to the advent of spotify. I’m old school and like listening to CDs in the car. Listening to those powerful, beautifully satisfying rock songs driving my kids around to their activities made me feel young again. And alive.
Just last year I heard a riveting interview with Chris Cornell by Howard Stern whose well known adoration of Chris borders on obsession. He spoke of the quality of Cornell’s voice, his incredible range, his rock star good looks and most of all his haunting lyrics and melodies. I learned in that interview how Cornell struggled with depression and drugs but I was happy to hear that he now had a loving wife and children. He was finally O.K. and seemed happy. I loved and respected him even more after the interview.
I can’t stop thinking about him and what a loss for his family and family of fans. I hope he’s at peace.