I have wanted to write a tribute to Chris since the day he died, but I couldn’t find the words. I still have trouble articulating that he’s gone. I never knew him. Not personally. But I knew his voice. I grew up with his voice. I found comfort in his voice. In his words. In his thoughts. So, for Chris, and for Vicky, and for his kids, I wanted to tell you how much his music meant to me.
I grew up a 90’s kid. My parents were constantly playing music. I remember listening to Soundgarden and Audioslave as we drove around, to and from school, and even as a kid, just thinking “wow, this is a voice I could listen to forever.” You turned on the radio and you knew it was Chris Cornell. He just had that voice that was so different from everything else playing. It was soulful, and beautiful, and unlike anything I had ever heard. I never wanted his records to end. His lyrics were poetry, and his voice was happiness, sorrow, longing, today, tomorrow, everything.
Growing up, my mom and I shared a deep love of his music. We drove for hours across the states to see Soundgarden play in Canada when they reunited in 2011. I remember crossing the border with my mom and just being overjoyed that I could actually catch them live. I had wanted to see them for so long, and they didn’t disappoint. It was one of the best concerts we had ever seen. We talked about it for months after the fact. We got out of the concert and drove 5 hours home that night and we were laughing and giggling like school girls. Nothing mattered in that moment. We were so over the moon to see him perform.
We were lucky enough to catch him again on his solo tour, this time where we lived, in Michigan. We were running late that night so we parked by a church and ran like ten blocks to the theatre just to make it there in time. It was just him and his guitar, and the little red telephone that I later read was given to him by Jeff Buckley. I was captivated. His voice, in that setting, was almost otherworldly. I had never felt such a love and warmth in my heart after going to a concert, and I don’t think I will again.
I went home after that show and learned most of his songs from “Songbook” on my guitar. He inspired me. In short, he just inspired me.
And that’s what I take away, from his passing. There are still so many songs I still can’t listen to without crying. So many things I remember about him that make my breath catch in my throat. But when I needed something, someone, to keep going, his music helped me in ways I’ll never be able to repay. So we keep living. Living for Chris. We keep playing his music, listening to his songs, because that’s what keeps his memory alive. Thank you for making people felt like the had a home in your music. Thank you for inspiring me to play instruments, to keep fighting, to keep living, to keep loving. Thank you, Chris.