I was in the midst of my KCRW show during the wee hours this morning when I noticed a Facebook post bemoaning the passing of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. I immediately googled the news, and my heart sank as it was confirmed by multiple reliable sources. I hadn’t thought about Chris Cornell in a long time, nor was I fully aware that Soundgarden had reunited and released an album in 2012, and were currently on tour. The band had finished a show at the Fox Theater in Detroit mere hours before Cornell took his own life.
I knew that I had to acknowledge the news, and quickly weighed my options for which song to play. “Black Hole Sun,” felt like the most appropriate choice. Not just because it’s Soundgarden’s most enduring hit, but because the tone and lyrics of the song seemed almost eerily right to spotlight a tragedy while simultaneously celebrating the life and contributions of an incredibly talented singer/songwriter.
It wasn’t until I was walking to my car after the show that I remembered how deeply obsessed I was with his 1999 solo record Euphoria Morning. I was in high school when it was released, and something about that record in particular really got under my skin in the best possible way. Of course that record – which fully displayed Cornell’s dark/insightful lyrics and showcased his 4 octave voice – would be catnip to an angsty 15 year old girl. It was softer, and seemingly more accessible to me than what I knew of Soundgarden, but it still understood my pain… you know? Memories of listening to that record over and over, and finally seeing him play most of it live at the Wiltern have been flooding my head all morning.
Clearly Chris Cornell-related memories have been flooding the heads of so many friends, colleagues, and KCRW listeners this morning. He really was a particularly singular voice, of a particularly singular generation. He has left us far too soon, but the intensity with which he left his mark on this world is undeniable.