I was going to write about LaVar Ball and/or Aaron Judge today for this week’s sports-themed blog, but then I woke up to the sad news that singer Chris Cornell had died at 52 so you get this instead.
When I first started dating my
current girlfriend forever love (she reads this) she expressed that she was a fan of Chris Cornell, the suddenly late front man of Soundgarden and owner of one of the great rock voices of all time. Of course she expressed it with googly eyes and an Antoine Walker shoulder shimmy, a expression of love she only usually used for Johnny Depp (her #1 celeb crush). Since my celebrity five list (the list of celebrities you are “allowed” to cheat on) had ballooned to about 4,700 names I allowed her her PDCA (Public Displays of Cornell Affection). When it came to her birthday in August of 2015, despite already having Hamilton tickets (original cast, orchestra, #ComedyMogul) for less than two weeks after her birthday I decided to go big and add two tickets to a recently announced Chris Cornell tour promoting his then forthcoming solo album Higher Truth.
The show was in October of 2015. I was familiar with Cornell (unlike my audiences in St Paul, Minnesota who gave me nothing for my Chris Cornell joke about how he began his show at the Beacon Theater by getting the crowd pumped up… right before beginning his set with a song he wrote for the movie 12 Years A Slave – a video of this bit actually working, just 10 days ago, is at the bottom of this post). I was never a big Soundgarden fan, but I did own their mega hit album Superunknown (featuring Spoonman, Fell on Black Days, Black Hole Sun and The Day I Tried to Live to name a few), as well as a few Audioslave songs (his side band with members of Rage Against The Machine). But what I did know was the Cornell had one of the great rock voices of all time. The lead singer from Boston is still probably my favorite, but just like Guns N Roses was so far ahead in quality in comparison to their hair band contemporaries, Cornell’s voice was so far ahead of his early 90s rock contemporaries. His lyrics are just as depressing as Kurt Cobain’s, but Cornell had a voice that felt more like a male Whitney Houston than a grunge cousin of Eddie Vedder. Below is a song that I consider one of the great breakup songs ever written from his 2015 album:
So we thoroughly enjoyed the concert. He sounded great, played Like a Stone (a hit with Audioslave that is probably my favorite song of his), all the Soundgarden hits, many tracks off of his solo album and a great song, where he sang the lyrics to Metallica’s One, to the arrangement of U2’s One and called it “Won.” After seeing him live I played his solo album so much on my iPod it would have worn out a tape had it been a tape. His lyrics were so deep and depressing (even his love song to his wife Before We Disappear made me feel good and depressed at the same time – framing their love as something to hold on to because in a blink of a cosmic eye they would both be gone) and his voice was still super rangy and powerful.
What I really felt about his voice and what I feel separates music from other things, like comedy for one good example. is that it really seems God given (or whatever you believe). When I hear voices like Whitney Houston, or Brad Delp of Boston or Chris Cornell it feels like something Heaven sent. Like something not sarcastically #Blessed. I believe I have comedy talent, but a voice like those I mentioned (and obviously many more) make comedy talent feel like something born in a gutter. I heard as a child in Church that to sing is to pray twice (I think that was just to encourage me to sing instead of go mute during singing portions of Mass – BUT TO THIS DAY I DON’T SING AT MASS #Integrity), but Chris Cornell’s voice was one of those voices that did seem to be a divine instrument that he used with great success. I am glad my girlfriend was so expressive of her
lust, passion, appreciation for Cornell because it allowed me to become a bigger fan and see him live before he passed. Much like George Michael’s sudden passing last year, Cornell was an artist with tremendous gifts gone way too soon. I don’t know yet if he relapsed (there is no cause of death, but the death was completely sudden) now that he is touring with Soundgarden – perhaps old habits resurfaced, but whatever the cause, this is a major loss. But alas, since I am a comedian, here is my description of his show at the Beacon from a recent show (maybe I really am a jinx). #RIPChrisCornell