I’m just sitting here, waiting for a 2 hour (unnecessary,) season finale of Scandal, thinking about today. Ten years ago, today maybe wouldn’t have stuck with me as much but when I awoke to the death of Chris Cornell, I was affected.
As a kid I was always very aware of music and popular culture. From my first New Kids on the Block cassette tape (thanks, Tooth Fairy!) to the James Taylor on my parents’ record player, I was surrounded by music. I am grateful for that. I was a teenager who listened to all kinds of music, even if it was labeled uncool. I especially loved alternative music. I hated Soundgarden. Not quite as much as I hated Alice in Chains, but still- they were up there. God, they were whiny, overplayed and overrated. For me? I’d prefer some Bush or Green Day. You can make fun of me. I was 11.
Later in life, I learned the error of my ways. Eventually, I allowed some Soundgarden and Pearl Jam into my playlist. A little Radiohead. And then even weirder, C-track style 90’s stuff. Let’s just say I had an 11-year-old perspective about things in ’96. I was just beginning my musical education.
Saturday, December 3rd, 2011… well, the 4th by the time it all went down, my husband proposed to me. Later that evening, he took me to see Chris Cornell at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. He was definitely more excited than I was. Soundgarden was his absolute favorite band and he was happy to able to share it with me.
I was blown away. Chris sounded better than the recordings. He was surrounded by about 10 different guitars, a stool, and a mic. That night changed the way I felt about the frontman of Soundgarden. In the years that followed I would finally realize Chris Cornell’s vast contribution to the music world.
The first thing I thought when I saw the news this morning was that I would have to be the one to tell my sleeping husband. A celebrity death has a kind of sick, circus-like quality. People want to know as much as possible and make judgements about what happened. People feel very little or too much. Celebrities are strangers to us, but we feel as if we know them. Few people seemed to know that Chris Cornell was in a place where suicide was even a possibility except for maybe his wife. My first thought when I heard of his unexpected passing was, “Oh my God. He was in an accident.” But we never truly know what someone is going through whether celebrity or a neighbor across the street. All we know for sure is the immense hole they’ll leave in our lives.