My five-year-old son Jake drew me the picture on the left, completely unprompted one day. I came home from work and he said, “Dad, I made this for you at school. It’s a stage. Someday you will be on that stage working with Chris Cornell.” It’s been front and center on my desk ever since. On the right, Chris and I backstage before his show in Baltimore a few months later. I will never forget our conversation. Just him and I on folding chairs, in an empty dressing room, talking about art. Complementing each other. His words of encouragement were a major inspiration behind why I started Artist Waves shortly after.
I first met Chris by chance in 2005, walking down 50th street in Manhattan. I mentioned how much I loved the new Audioslave, ‘Out of Exile’ record, and I explained that although he didn’t know me, his music had such an amazing place in my life. My intimidation was quickly washed away as Chris so genuinely put his arm around me, patted my shoulder, looked me square in the eyes and said the most sincere “thanks, man” I have ever heard.
Shortly after, I met Clare O’Brien from afar. Over the next four years, under Clare’s incredible leadership, I ended up leading a street team region for Chris. With an abundance of cheer and enthusiasm, we helped promote ‘Carry On’ and ‘Scream’ across a ton of communities. We were all so passionate about the music and gleaming with pride, but the best part was the people we’d meet along the way.
I believe Chris Cornell changed the world with his voice. Certainly mine. As a writer, nothing has made my pen smile more than getting the opportunity to share that. “Blow Up the Outside World”, “Higher Truth”, “Call Me a Dog”, “I am the Highway”, … “Finally Forever” was my wife and I’s wedding song. Man, you had a profound song for every emotion I’ve ever felt. ‘Euphoria Morning’ taught me all about art being a personal form of expression. Watching Chris sing “When I’m Down” was like watching Picasso paint. I am forever grateful that he was so generous with his gift.
In 2008, after working an event for Chris’ street team, I went inside the PNC Bank Arts Center and caught his blistering set on the Projekt Revolution tour. Chris—during “Black Hole Sun” you jumped off stage, made your way through the crowd, hitting every note perfectly in stride… you hopped a fence and found yourself atop a hill that overlooked the entire amphitheater. At its highest point, you turned, faced down on the audience smiling up, and you soared through the last minute of the anthem. It was pitch black out, but there was a spotlight illuminating you, perfectly capturing the magic. It moved many to tears. That’s how I will remember you. That moment. That’s what you were to me and will always be.
Tom Morello pointed out “Sunshower”… one of my favorites. It oozes with emotion. If there’s a song where Chris is speaking to us all right now, perhaps it’s this one.
Sending love to his beautiful family who have always been so incredibly kind and gracious. Just like Chris.
Rest easy, CC. Your voice, your songs, your spirit, your impact…will forever resonate. Thank you for everything.
“Ascend may you find no resistance
Know that you made such a difference
All you leave behind will live to the end
The cycle of suffering goes on
But memories of you stay strong.”
Keep the promise,
Jeff Gorra ~ Artist Waves