I was first introduced to Chris Cornell’s music back in high school when my friend James turned me on to Audioslave’s self titled album. I instantly connected to Chris’s lyrics and fondly remember listening to their discography on loop. As I became more engrossed with his ability to paint beautiful landscapes and imagery with words, I delved deeper into his back catalog of music. Euphoria Mourning was my next fixation. To this day, I cannot say I’ve connected more to an album in my life than I have with Euphoria Mourning. The lyrics were so sad yet beautiful that they always provided a strange sense of comfort in my own times of sadness.
Flash forward 10+ years and there isn’t a single piece of Chris’s music that I haven’t heard yet. From Temple of the Dog to him filling in with Mad Season, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to some of the most beautifully composed music one has ever been so generous to share with the world. To say his songwriting has gotten me through some tough times would be a massive understatement.
Still, the best gift Chris ever gave me, was the chance to perform music with him side by side. At one of Soundgarden’s shows in 2013, I had the grand idea to hold up a poster asking to perform Spoonman on guitar with him and the rest of the band. Even I knew the odds of this happening were extremely unlikely but I figured, “What the heck, can’t hurt to try”.
As the set progressed that evening, Chris kept making eye contact with me, almost in a teasing manner, keeping me in suspense if my wild wish would be granted. After the 4th song ended, he addressed me directly and said “Can you actually play it?”, to which I enthusiastically nodded yes. At that point he gestured for security to let me on stage and I was given his personal guitar to play. Never have I been so nervous in my life. One of the most prolific and influential songwriters in my lifetime has just brought me on stage to perform with him. The song progressed wonderfully and at its conclusion we shared a brief embrace and waved to the crowd.
Moments like this are what defined Chris. Not just as a musician, but as a caring and compassionate human being. He had no obligation or duty to invite me on stage. But he did. He saw my face in the crowd and took a chance. For one brief moment in my life, he made me feel like a rock star. Moments like that are how he should be remembered.
I really miss you Chris. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world. As you once said, “No one sings like you anymore”.