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Chris Cornell 1964-2017


Submitted: May 21, 2017

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Submitted: May 21, 2017







To paraphrase the song:

"He lived like a murder

how he flew so sweetly...

he lived like a murder but he died...

just like suicide."


He lived like a murder... Meaning (to me, anyway) that Chris Cornell (the man, the muse, the legend) literally killed it. As a singer, songwriter, and performer. As a dude.

Myself, I can't comment --neither respectfully or indignantly-- on the act of comitting suicide. Whether I see superficial noblility in Samurai seppuku, or despicable disgrace in the tactics of Islamic warfare, is besides the point. I just can't find any personal efficacy in self-immolation. Nor a rapture in The Rapture. Period.***

***Although it must be said, for it has been rumored, and perhaps it's telling, that back in 1972, at the height of psychedelic hippiedom, a group of metaphysicians working in Leipzig, Germany actually DID discover the true nature of the afterlife. Sadly, for the rest of us, every last one of these intrepid philosophers, unconditionally enlightened and excited by their euphoric epiphany, immediately stopped and dropped what they were doing and leapt out the window. Or off a bridge. Or into oncoming traffic. Keeping the inflammatory faith and taking their eternal revelations to the grave. Makes you wonder, though. Doesn't it?***

I've never felt the urge to bid farewell to this cruel ol' world, is what I mean. Not even as a martyr. For even at the lowest points of my life --the heights of my addictions and destructive proclivities-- my urge was to defy the circumstances and suffer the consequences.

(As opposed to going gently into the darkness, that is.)

Kurt Cobain, Robin Williams, and now Chris Cornell (just to name a few) were insufferably talented men at the top of their games, on top of the world, and yet unable to suffer their insufferable demons. As above, so below. Or so they say. Laid low, perhaps, by the slow torture of their success.

In spite of an ignoble demise (or perhaps because of it) these beloved artists of ours don't really suffer posthumously. For the most part, in fact, their legacies are enhanced by the tragic circumstances surrounding their departures. Sudden death fascinates and saddens me, as it does most all of us, but it also relieves a lot of pressure and affords reflection. Celebration, even.

(As opposed to nursing a loved one through the slow ravages of disease and dementia and becoming uncomfortably numb to what you once loved about them, that is.)

In the old tradition of an Irish wake, I'd much rather party hard. Build a monument in the aftermath as opposed to deconstructing the Goddamnable logic. By all accounts, Chris Cornell was more a sinner than a saint. An avenging demiurge armed with Metatronic pipes. Yet, in the immortal words of Billy Joel: I'd much rather laugh with the likes of him, than cry with the likes of, say... Roger Ailes.

(Roger Ailes, the architect of Fox News and a cultural powerhouse in his own right, just happened to die on the same day as Chris Cornell. And yet the shame of it just ain't the same.)

Because if Cobain was the patron saint, if Layne Staley was the defrocked priest, if Eddie Vedder remains the Bishop... Then Chris Cornell was the Pope of Grunge. Grunge. A misnomic designation for the rock and roll sound of Seattle, Washington that came to pop-culture prominence in the late Eighties and early Nineties. My personal coming of age period. I believe that We the People, as consumers of trends and fads and crunchy soft tacos and whatnot, most naturally identify with the zeitgeist of our late teens and early twenties. I dunno why that is, but it is. So it was with me and Grunge. A dark and somewhat depressing style of music that somehow, perhaps sarcastically, managed to combine the superficial trappings of being rich and beautiful and awesome with the harsh reality of being real and really serious about being. About being yourself. A big fat contradiction in terms, the music made you wanna mosh and monster mash with your fellow sociopathic deplorables while the lyrics romanticized desolution, despair, and disenfranchised disenchantment. Go figure, but don't dwell on it too much. It's only rock and roll, after all. But I like it.


Chris Cornell was rich, beautiful, awesome, and really serious, is what I'm saying. I met him in person one time. At an album release party for another Seattle band, Gruntruck. I looked him in the face and said hello and couldn't believe how fucking handsome the man was. A tall dark pillar of rock stardom with his deep blue eyes and long black hair and his sinewy, sunburnt, shirtless sangfroid. And that voice! Both a balladeer and a balls-out heavy metal brigand, he had four octaves of valor and discretion and rarely sang a sour note or missed an opportunity to move the needle.

My fellow fictioneer and music lover, Gpyrenees, has already documented her appreciation for the softer side of Cornell's ouevre. On this very website. Definitely check out her selections but, before you do, lemme turn y'all on and tune you in to a few of his heavier compositions. For fuck's sake. Trust me. You won't believe the vocal acrobatics the man was capable of.



Slaves and Bulldozers:

Show Me How To Live:

Your Saviour:


So, yes. I'm up in arms and devastated and disgustipated and a little bit pissed-- meaning drunk. Again... That doggone voice!! Cornell was arguably the most talented and most important musician the city of Seattle, Washington ever produced. Indeed, I'm saying it: The man was more important than Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and the Wilson sisters of Heart. Not to mention Kenny Loggins and his Top Gun Danger Zone. If he'd done nothing else, the Soundgarden song OUTSHINED absolutely defined the Grunge generation and genre. To say I'm "Feeling Minnesota" today would be a trivial understatement.

Anyway, that's my little tribute to the righteous dude. Hopefully I've waxed rhapsodic enough to intrigue some of you to uncover the genius of Chris Cornell. Like I did for Gpyrenees, a few years back. I'm proud of that for some reason. I think her life is just a little bit better, her heart just a little bit heavier now (in a good way) having reckoned his contributions to art, music, poetry, and pulchritude. I know my ennui was enhanced by the man's efforts. If that makes any sense. Much respect.

Cheers, Grace, and Godspeed







© Copyright 2021 John Hamler. All rights reserved.

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