“I’m sorry, my sweet love, that I did not see what happened to you that night, I’m sorry you were alone, and I know that was NOT you, my sweet Christopher. Your children know that too, so you can Rest In Peace. I’m broken, but I will stand up for you and I will take care of our beautiful babies. I will think of you every minute of every day and I will fight for you. You were right when you said we are soul mates. It has been said that paths that have crossed will cross again, and I know that you will come find me, and I will be here waiting.”
Vicky Cornell, upon learning of her husband Chris Cornell’s death (2017)
Singer and once-in-a-generation cultural icon Chris Cornell was laid to rest at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles yesterday. The weather was overcast, ominous, a black hole sun undoubtedly buried deep behind moiling clouds, at what was possibly the largest gathering of Rock Royalty in nearly a quarter century, since Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994. Cornell’s flat marker in the cemetery read “VOICE OF OUR GENERATION AND AN ARTIST FOR ALL TIME.” He was 52 at the time of his death.
As attendees made their way to their seats at the public service, which followed a private one earlier the same day, Audioslave’s “Like a Stone” played on speakers throughout Fairbanks Lawn. Fellow Audioslave bandmate Tom Morello was one of several people to deliver a eulogy, saying, “Chris was as melodic as The Beatles, as heavy as Sabbath and as haunting as Edgar Allan Poe. The demons he wrestled with were real, but he harnessed those demons and rode them like a mother-flipping chariot of lightning strapped with Marshall stacks to make some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll of all time.”
Chris Cornell’s extraordinary range was hardly a secret, but nonetheless continued to impress – no, blow the f****** walls out from around him – every time he took to the stage and opened his mouth. He was one of those vocal freaks of nature that could belt out a song like “Jesus Christ Pose,” have every fan ready to go and wage battle like they were straight out of Braveheart, then hoist himself up on a stool, grab his acoustic guitar and somehow find it in himself to release chthonic demons buried deep inside the abyss of a tired spirit through a heart-wrenching version of “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
For those like me who never knew Chris Cornell personally, we are left to recount memories associated with a person who seemed larger than life much of the time with friends and fellow fans….
…like the time I went to see Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Neil Young perform at Exhibition Stadium a lifetime ago. The show was over, or so it seemed, when Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder and the Neiler himself sauntered back to the stage, along with seven guitarists and two drummers from their respective bands. Although the following link isn’t from the same concert, it will give you a sense of the power that overtook 50,000 screaming nutjobs when those three rock legends began singing “Rockin’ in the Free World…”
…like the first time I heard Cornell and Vedder team up to sing “Hunger Strike” and was thunderpunched to the gut, a feeling only relived three years later when The Tragically Hip released Day for Night, and “Nautical Disaster” ruined me; beds were launched out of second-floor windows and refrigerators tossed horizontally like rectangular missiles through front doors, such was the visceral reaction only select songs like that could evoke…
…like two days ago, flipping through the channels on TV, and stumbling across Singles (1992), a movie I watched approximately 2.3 million times when I was in university. Cameron Crowe’s now-classic film about life in Seattle in the early 1990s was just beginning and all I thought was, Don’t give me Bridget Fonda with her faux “grungewear,” or Matt Dillon with his lame facial hair; give me Layne Staley, Eddie Vedder, Matt Cameron, Kim Thayil, Mike Starr, Ben Shepherd, Sean Kinney, Jerry Cantrell, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard and, of course, Chris Cornell.
Those who know me, know that I have a voice for the ages. Verily, I never pursued a career in music in a selfless act to allow others far inferior to shine (Matt R.). It was much the same with chess (Joel H.), waterskiing (Dave S.) and playing hockey (Randy M.)
Thus, therefore and consequently, I will dedicate this last song to Mr. Cornell from a few some guys who know a thing or two about the man himself and about writing music that effortlessly soars to the heavens, and we, the humble recipients of the ethereal, more inspired human beings as we reel in its wake – Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe.”
Nothing you would take,
Everything you gave.
Hold me till I die,
Meet you on the other side.