Today I am sad.
People always try to find a way to relate or commiserate to a celebrity (usually a musician) upon the discovery of their death as a means to grieve someone that, even though they have never met, may have had a profound effect on their life.
Today, for me, it’s a little different.
Chris Cornell, many know him as frontman for Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, or simply as a solo artist. He has reportedly taken his own life.
The irony being that he may have saved my life through his music many years ago.
The first time I heard his distinct sound, I was about 17 or so, and was volunteering at the campus radio station CFRU 93.3. My first foray into the media industry. Working in the inventory booth, sorting and replacing CDs (or were they cassettes back then? Lol) and trying to build a case for an on-air opportunity, I discovered an album dubbed Louder Than Love by a band called Soundgarden (I also discovered Marilyn Manson at the time, but that was more of a novelty). I decided to give this album a listen as I worked away.
The album was my first listen of the grunge movement that was just stirring out of Seattle. The sound on it was loud, crunchy and thick, and that sound stuck to me. The title suited the album.
What is most astonishing to me is that I can still picture that moment in time. Usually when someone dies, or a tragic event happens, you can usually relate a memory associated. Here I am, associating a memory to the first time I heard a sound.
Years later, when Badmotorfinger was dropped, it took me to a whole new level and Soundgarden with Cornell’s emotionally charged voice became one of my favourite bands, beside the likes of Metallica and Suicidal Tendencies.
During an especially dark period of my life, the song Seasons by Cornell dropped on the soundtrack for the film Singles and it was that song and that moment of time when I needed it the most.
I can honestly point at an exact number of moments of my life where something or someone had picked me up, and this was easily one.
So many of his songs, whether solo or in one of his bands, spoke so deeply to me and about me that it was impossible to resist following him through his career.
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to finally see Soundgarden in recent years at a show in Toronto for their reunion tour. A moment I never thought I would get to experience.
I dubbed it Black Sunday, and they rocked the house and performed incredibly tight and amazing. I was so satisfied and new that everything had come full circle for me and the journey that Cornell had taken me on.
Chris leaves behind a wife and three children and a legion of dedicated fans, many of whom probably share my experiences.
Today, I will forever dub Black Thursday.