Chris Cornell: 1964-2017

I don’t know how to write this one. I just don’t. I know that depression is a terminal disease. If you are lucky, something else will get you first, but sometimes the depression will take you. I know this because bipolar disorder is a terminal disease. I have to actively fight to stay alive. Bulimia is a terminal disease. I have to eat mindfully and then not purge or restrict afterward. There are days where I don’t want to do any of the things that keep me alive. Those are the days I’m most likely to harm myself. People who do not live with these terminal diseases do not understand what it is like and they never will. I won’t claim to know what drove a man who was hugely successful with a loving family to end his own life in a Detroit hotel room. My empathy is strictly along the lines of being a fellow sufferer of a disease that is hard to manage, hard to predict, and despite all my efforts still might get me in the end. I won’t pretend any more than that.

Chris Cornell is one of the voices of my life- a glorious baritone that could softly caress the melody of a song before launching into an epic roar, or blood surging scream. His voice is one of the most versatile in pop music history. Whether it was the metal rage of Soundgarden, the classic tones of Audioslave, or the more electronic/pop music of his solo work, his voice remained pure and perfect.  There are few from that era with a voice as good as Chris’s, or as distinctive. His musicality was unimpeachable. His covers of “Billie Jean” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” are legendary. He appreciated pop music as much as he appreciated the heavy metal that drove him early. Audioslave’s beautiful use of Tom Morello’s guitar work with Chris’s ear for melody made Audioslave a favourite of mine after the nu metal era waned and real music found its way back to the world again. Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog were formative- both bands were part of my teenage years, and “Black Hole Sun” is one of the greatest songs of that era.

I’m really at a loss. I feel so unbelievably sad. I feel nothing but love and compassion for his wife Vicky and his three children, his bandmates in Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog, and all the other musicians, journalists, and fans he touched over his life. Chris was an incredible talented, incredibly beautiful, and I will miss him terribly.