Friday, May 19, 2017

Like Suicide

Chris Cornell, Soundgarden Frontman, Dies at 52:

Chris Cornell, the powerful, dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, died on Wednesday night in Detroit hours after the band had performed there. He was 52.
The death was a suicide by hanging, the Wayne County medical examiner’s office said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon. It said a full autopsy had not yet been completed.
Mr. Cornell’s representative, Brian Bumbery, said in a statement that the death was “sudden and unexpected.”
Soundgarden played at the Fox Theater in Detroit on Wednesday night, and had been scheduled to perform in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday at the Rock on the Range festival.
I admit, much as I wrote when I first learned about David Foster Wallace's suicide back in 2008, this one really hit me in the feels...like knocked me on my ass. 

As much as I've written about it, studied it, and been affected by it via close friends and family members, it never ceases to amaze me how shocking, disturbing, and life-changing the act of suicide remains.

I always viewed Cornell as one of the pillars of strength in the music industry, someone whose 4-octave howl and music the rest of us turned to in order to understand why others (like Cobain, Staley, Weiland, et al) succumbed to drugs, suicide and tragedy. 

It was in songs like "Times of Trouble," "Fell on Black Days," "All Night Thing," and others that Cornell always seemed to offer rays of hope and light, amidst the sludge and darkness of depression and sadness. True, the dark side was always there too ("Burden in My Hand," "Let Me Drown," etc.), but generally the themes he always seemed to echo, particularly in his solo work, were perseverance and not letting the bastards get you down.

Which is why, again, yesterday was such shocking news.
Whether he was fronting the ferocious hard rock of Soundgarden or backed simply by an acoustic guitar, his voice — now silenced in a suicide — was spectacular by any reckoning. It was a voice that could sail above the grunge barrage of Soundgarden, with an attack to rival the band’s churning guitars; it was also a voice that gave modest acoustic ballads an existential gravity. At the bottom of its nearly four-octave range, Mr. Cornell’s voice was a baritone with endless reserves of breath and the seething tension of contained power. He couldn’t be more convincing than when he sang one of his definitive songs, “Rusty Cage,” with Soundgarden: “I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run,” he howled.
Oy. Long time readers will remember my previous Soundgarden post and admiration for all things Cornell. There will be plenty of post-mortems written in the days and weeks ahead, but this event definitely confirms one bedrock truth I know about suicide: it is a great democratizing force. It can come to anyone, anywhere, even those you think "would never" think such a thing, and in the end makes us all equal.

I'll leave you with two other videos, one showcasing Cornell's softer side ("Seasons" from the Singles soundtrack,) and "Let Me Drown," which is still the most epic head banger Soundgarden ever did.

I'm going to the holy land...RIP.



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