My alarm went off today at 5:45 and the first thing I saw when I grabbed my phone to hit snooze was the AP alert that Chris Cornell was dead.
I know I’m a writer and I’m supposed to be able to describe these feelings in a way that you might not have heard before, but to which you can also relate, but fuck me if I can do that right now.
I cried in bed. I can’t cry about any aspect of my own life to save it, but SPCA commercials, songs, movies, my kid saying unexpected poetic things, dead children in Syria, dew on a spiderweb–beauty and pain, beauty and pain, beauty and pain, there go my eyes. It’s never buckets. It’s an ache that rises and squeezes an offering of empathy to my face, cheeks, hands, to evaporate into some shared space. It’s permission to feel. I might be broken but I heal.
When there is a very public death of someone we don’t know “in real life,” especially when we lose an artist, I always think that it isn’t the person so much as the loss of possibility that we mourn. I’d like to revise that sentiment. It’s both. It’s the person and their uniqueness and their stopped spirit, the impossibility of ever hearing a voice or reading a word from that particular gorgeous alien ever again. Ever ever.
So I’m melting and kind of shaking my head in bed and several friends are already texting me, and I’m thinking how unreal it is that a voice that’s been a regular part of my life since I was a kid is…see, I can’t even do this.
I first heard Black Hole Sun in my dad’s truck when I was 13. I was already fanatical about Pearl Jam and had heard some Soundgarden, but BHS is the one that haunted and hooked me. Then Fell on Black Days became a long-time favorite. I learned more about the connection between PJ and Cornell, found Badmotorfinger and Louder than Love, found Temple of the Dog. Obsessed. Later, the first Audioslave song I heard was Cochise and I was hooked again by that powerhouse voice. The acoustic albums–solo “Call Me a Dog” is so spectacularly beautiful. I’ve told people that the definition of grunge, to me, is the intro to Loud Love. I was a lonely teenager and these songs and bands were my friends. It’s as simple and profound as that.
I saw Cornell live both nights at PJ20 in 2011. Temple of the Dog reunion. His voice was the best it’s ever been, like he’d entered a second prime. He was only 52 yesterday.
None of this matters. All of it matters so very much.
The last thing in the world I expected this morning was to read this news. You never know when a piece of you is going to be ripped out while you sleep–that’s the superunknown.
I could care less who thinks this is melodramatic. You should love more things and more people, if you feel that way. And not because it never hurts to love things, because it does. Being human is complicated like that.
Thanks, Chris, for making me feel so utterly human. God I miss you. “Heaven send hell away, no one sings like you anymore…”