To those who know me, Chris Cornell was a personal hero of mine. I had not listened to Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, or his solo efforts in a while, but I didn’t need to; his memory was engrained within me, and how he shaped me musically will forever help define me. His artistic talent would never, throughout time, be doubted in my mind.
The guitarist of my old band reminded me that he thought I wanted to bring Cornell’s high-pitched and aggressive vocals to our performances, as well as his riff-writing. Whilst I was nowhere near his performances, his vocal ability inspired me in ways that Robert Plant or Myles Kennedy could only touch on. His voice was as pure as Jeff Buckley, yet as angsty and gravely as Layne Stayley.
His death raises awareness to the plague of depression and, in turn, how mental health has no preference. It does not matter how poor or prosperous or how insignificant or inspiring you are, mental health could affect each and every one of us in ways that cannot be predicted. I myself recently thought I could ride that turbulent wave in my own life, however, I was proved wrong. A thousand people have handled things better, but a thousand haven’t.
As I said earlier, Chris Cornell was an inspiration for me. He was more than just a vocalist or a songwriter though. Cornell battled depression and addiction and appeared to rise above it all. Until recently his recent troubles were not apparent to the mainstream eye.
Whatever his reasons for his self-inflicted demise, Cornell’s death is a tragedy in the eyes of millions of musicians and one that has brought a flood of tears to my eyes. His talent and legacy live on in the voices and writings of the thousands that have followed in his wake.
I for one have felt his death more personally than others in recent years. This could be owed to my maturity in mental state, or the closeness of his death in terms of inspiration. However, that does not lessen the impact he has had on many thousands of others, if not millions, of people. Chris Cornell was an inspiration to those uncountable people in the world and his legacy will be felt for many years, probably decades. It is a tragedy he will never see that legacy, and my thoughts are with his family at this time, who knew him as more than a musician, but as a son, a father, a sibling, and a husband.
However, to me, he inspired me in ways I am still struggling to put down in words. I never felt I would miss someone I had never met, but I truly miss Chris Cornell is ways that cannot be confined to written language. There is grace, however, in that his music will live forever. Whilst he never knew me, I hope he continues to inspire the world through his legacy in the way that he inspired me through his life.
Christopher John Cornell
Rest in Peace, July 20th 1964 – May 17th 2017