Chris Cornell
(Mark Seliger Photography)

Chris Cornell Was The Best Of His Era

Chris Cornell passed away four years ago today, on May 18, 2017. Cornell was born on July 20, 1964, in Seattle, Washington, and died at the age of 52. He was most well known for being the lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, both of which achieved massive mainstream success. Cornell also toured solo for quite some time in between and after playing in the two bands. Unfortunately, the music world lost Cornell to suicide after he performed what would ultimately be the last Soundgarden concert of his life. Looking back, there is no doubt in my mind that Cornell was the best musician to come out of the ‘grunge’ era, and maybe even the best musician I’ve listened to… ever.

Anyone who has heard Cornell sing knows it’s unforgettable. The guy had insane range and could give listeners chills with his high register singing and low register voice. In his earlier Soundgarden days, Cornell’s voice became widely known because of his trademark high wailing screams, but one of my favorite Cornell vocal performances came when he was with a band called Temple of the Dog. Cornell founded the band in 1990 to honor his friend, Andrew Wood, and the band’s song, “Say Hello 2 Heaven”, shows all of Cornell’s vocal abilities in one six-minute masterpiece.

Chris Cornell Is On The Mount Rushmore Of Seattle Grunge

Like many of the bands to come out of the ‘grunge’ scene in the 1990s, Cornell was from Seattle. Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana and the man considered by many to be the founding father of grunge, was also from the city, as well as Layne Staley, the frontman for Alice in Chains, and the band Pearl Jam. Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains all formed in Seattle, WA, and together they form the Mount Rushmore of grunge music. Despite the success of all four bands, however, Cornell is the most impactful vocalist out of the group.

Pain And Sadness Was The Crux Of Grunge

Sadly, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is the only vocalist from the Seattle grunge groups still alive today. Cornell, Cobain, and Staley all suffered from severe depression and struggled with substance abuse. Cobain committed suicide in 1994, Stayley overdosed in 2002, and Cornell committed suicide in 2017. Despite these frontmen making great music, people forget about the pain and struggle that influenced their sounds. When one examines the lyrics of Soundgarden, Nirvana, or Alice in Chains songs, one can see the pain their frontmen were experiencing.

Take a song like “Fell on Black Days”, by Soundgarden. It’s one of their most popular songs and it speaks volumes about how long Cornell dealt with depression. The message behind Cornell’s lyrics became even more evident after he passed.

Gone, But Never Forgotten

As sad as it was to hear the news of Cornell’s passing four years ago, I remember feeling oddly grateful at the same time. I felt grateful to have the chance to hear his music and comprehend his greatness as a musician and a person. He was well known as a talented musician and songwriter, but from what people have said, he seemed to be an even better father and person. Thank you, Chris Cornell. Thank you for your incredible music and the positive feelings you gave to so many who listened to you.

I’ll leave everyone with a great acoustic performance from Cornell of arguably his most famous song, “Black Hole Sun” on the Howard Stern Show back in 2007.

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