I wanted to comment on Chris Cornell’s passing, member of some of the greatest bands of our time including Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple Of The Dog, aged 52 on 17 May 2017. The cause of death has been determined as suicide by hanging. Cornell’s body was found by a friend in a hotel bathroom at the MGM Grand in Detroit.
Chris had been performing a show with Soundgarden the previous evening which has been posted to YouTube. Rolling Stone Magazine called the performance “muscular” with one reporter claiming that Cornell “wasn’t mentally present” on stage for his final performance.
I am still reeling from the news because I was, and still am, a huge fan of Cornell and his work, particularly with Soundgarden. I can relate to his struggles with depression and addiction, both of which I have battled with in some form or another throughout my own life. Chris had made the effort during recent times to battle his addictions having undertaken treatment in rehab facilities.
It seemed as if Cornell was successfully overcoming his demons and managing to forge ahead with his music career. Soundgarden was still touring and performing, however in a much more sober and healthy environment. According to Cornell’s Wikipedia page Cornell gave a 2011 interview in which he stated that the major change with the reformed Soundgarden is a lack of alcohol. “The biggest difference I noticed….and we haven’t even really talked about it: there are no bottles of Jack Daniels lying around or beer. And we never talked about…it’s just not there”.
Appearances can be deceiving. The issue with depression and addiction is that it can rear its ugly head at any time and hit you like a ton of proverbial bricks. Unfortunately there is not always someone around to talk us down from the ledge when this occurs, particularly with musicians who are touring and are not always surrounded by loved ones.
So why is the news of Chris’ passing having such an effect on me? Well there are several reasons that I can think of. The first is the obvious and that is the addiction and depression. I have had close loved ones suffer from both and they are still areas that we just don’t talk about enough. I’ve also had a cousin commit suicide specifically because of addiction and feeling like there was just no hope left.
There is always a feeling of shame associated with addiction and mental illness that we tend to carry. Nobody ever wants to admit that they are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Even those of us who have managed to seek treatment and are leading healthier lifestyles now will still carry a certain amount of shame to some extent. It’s simply too embarrassing to admit to friends or family that you’ve battled with addiction because it makes us appear weak which can leave us feeling vulnerable and open to criticism.
Particularly if that friend has never touched a drug and have maintained a clean, healthy and sober lifestyle or is someone who we admire and look up to. Admitting to someone like that about an addiction or depression can be an intimidating prospect. It can leave us feeling embarrassed and even inferior about not having lived up to our own potential. It is often easier to not say anything for fear of being judged too harshly or rejected.
The other reason that I believe this news has jarred me is because I’ve been such a huge fan forever. Being such a music lover and hearing Chris’ music over the past 3 decades has put me in a position to relate, chronicle and express my own grievances, life issues and experiences, joys, adventures, encounters and journeys.
I am a huge fan of “Grunge”, & it’s subgenre”Alternative Rock” which evolved during the mid 1980’s. Bands including “Nirvana”, “Pearl Jam”, “Alice In Chains” that originated in basements in Seattle were all groundbreaking and are now often referred to as “Seattle Sound” .
These are the forms of music that I grew up listening to and loving. Everything about them from the lyrics to the sounds were all intensely captivating and moving. Music can be incredibly uplifting and invoke feelings and memories that move us in a way that no other medium can. Personally, I’ve found the Grunge genre of music to be one that gives me an immense feeling of release and has helped me to battle through some pretty rough times. They’ve, given me hope and strength at a time when I’ve needed it most.
It has been great for targeting anger, aggression and even rage. Singling along to some of Chris’ songs in a car like a dag can sometimes even help to lift my spirits, instantly changing my mood into a positive one and brightening things so that I’m able to charge ahead with life again.
This is what people like Chris and his music have done for me and why the news of his passing will affect me so deeply. Although I may not agree with how he chose to end things, I understand depression enough to know that it’s literally like flipping a switch in the mind when it chooses to envelop you. Sadly nobody was around to turn the light back on for Chris when he needed it most. That is a tragedy, particularly for his wife, children, family and friends that he leaves behind.
I just wanted to acknowledge and thank Chris Cornell for the wonderful music he brought to my life and to the lives of all of his fans out there who loved his work. May he rest peacefully now that the pain and suffering that life can bring is finally over for him. I imagine that he is still entertaining the masses wherever he may be now with that heaven-sent voice! You’ll never be forgotten Chris