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Chris Cornell - A Retrospective

It's hard to believe it's been a year

 

by Anne Erickson

 

 

Chris Cornell is undeniably one of the greatest vocalists in rock. His ability to convey dynamic shades of emotion through a powerful, God-given singing voice was unrivaled. Many singers have a great voice, but Cornell's emotional pull is special. 

Chris Cornell - vocalist in Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog - passed away a year ago on  Wednesday (May 17, 2017) at the age of 52. He performed an energetic show at The Fox Theatre in Detroit hours before his death.

Cornell's passing was “sudden and unexpected,” according to statement issued by his publicist. We now know a year later that the cause of death was ruled a suicide by hanging.

Cornell and Soundgarden were pioneering in the late '80s/early '90s grunge scene in Seattle. Along with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, music fans embraced Soundgarden as a beloved force in grunge music. But Cornell's influence went beyond grunge. His solo work delved into all genres, proving Cornell a multi-dimensional talent.

 

   


I had the honor of interviewing Cornell before his death when he was releasing his latest solo album, Higher Truth. "I really believe that the ultimate, highest experience is to be in the moment, aware of everything that’s going on around you and supporting that moment..." Cornell told me in the interview. 

"Adulthood and growing up and living in this world is pretty much all corrupting that," he added. "That’s the process of filling your life up with all kinds of concerns and preoccupations and distractions that don’t mean anything and that are hollow and don’t actually give you anything back. If there was ever an age where our days are filled with that, it’s now..."

Higher Truth was an acoustic album. The stripped-down sound worked to highlight his unique vocal character.

"I felt like writing an album that’s written to be acoustic songs first and highlighting the vocals and the lyrics just by the nature of the arrangements of the songs, that it better sound good, but I didn’t want it too slick-good, because anyone can do that now with a computer," he said in our interview. "It needs to be emotional; it needs to be raw."

 

 

Tributes poured out in the days following his death from musicians shocked and seemingly paralyzed by the news of Cornell's death:

 

"A shining voice in music has left us in the midnight," Perry Farrell said on Twitter. "He was a complex and gentle soul #ChrisCornell has flown into the black hole sun."

"Shocked & saddened by the news of Chris Cornell's passing," Slash posted on Twitter. "RIP."

"This is shocking and terribly sad news," Rush posted on social media. "Chris Cornell was not only an amazing musician but also a generous spirit that will be sorely missed."

"Shocked and saddened by the sudden death of @ChrisCornell," Elton John said on Twitter. "A great singer, songwriter and the loveliest man."

"Shocking news Chris Cornell passing last night in Detroit," Peter Frampton tweeted. "Brilliant artist on so many levels. I am in shock. My condolences to his family."

"Very sad news about Chris Cornell today," Joe Perry posted on social media. "A sad loss of a great talent to the world, his friends and family. Rest In Peace."

 

And here we are an entire year later and still, the music will never be the same. -HC-

 

________________________________________________________________

 

Anne Erickson holds years of bylines in Gannett Media publications, as well as music magazines Premier Guitar, Guitar Edge and more. She also hosts radio shows with iHeartRadio and has been syndicated in Seattle, Dayton, Central Coast California and beyond. Anne is a loyal Spartan and holds a Master’s degree from MSU. She resides in Lansing, Michigan.

 

 

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Ben Lorentzen  |  June 07, 2018 at 9:07 pm
Thank you for writing about Chris Cornell. I enjoyed your little article here. 
I think what is mentioned in here as the thought process behind "Higher Truth", how stuff fills our everyday but makes us feel hollow at the same time, is true. 

I wish for one that his life and others can lead to an honest debate about drug and substance use. Cornell battled this for big parts of his life and his wife suggests that his suicide might have been driven by a relapse or an . accident with drugs he was taking. 

It is widely accepted that pot (marihuana) will be available soon on the legal market, but what effect will more drugs have on a population that is driven by consumption, again referring back to Cornells claims that we are living at the peak of such a culture now. 

Will we se a counter culture soon that wants other things than consumption, quick thrills and a ever deeper depending on drugs of different kinds?

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