My husband told me of your passing over dinner. I tried to ignore it over the next two days, telling myself that mourning a person that I never met was ridiculous. On the third day, I broke down. I cried all day, and tried to analyze why your death affected me so profoundly. I concluded that you were present throughout my life, and I was so distraught over your passing because for the past 30 years your music has helped me to get to know myself.
Through your music I have grown. I was a latch key kid of the early 90s, with many reasons to be angry, and I’ve grown into a mother and adult who is just trying to find peace amongst all the terrible things that happen in this world. Sometimes it seems so difficult to search for the beauty around us when so many shitty things happen, but without at least trying, we are only sitting under clouds of doom waiting for the rain. I teach visual arts at an urban middle school, and I’ve dealt with a lot of kids that have reasons to feel cheated, and like the world is a cruel place. Discussing artistic ideas, and getting kids involved in the arts is an amazing way to deal with these feelings. The arts build confidence, and I’m so happy your wife has decided to honor your legacy through helping young children through music.
I’ve always felt a parallel between your music and the point I’m at emotionally in my life because you’ve managed to remain relevant. You had a knack for writing lyrics that were genuine and uncontrived. They resonated with so many of us because they paint vivid pictures of what we are all dealing with, trying to come to terms with, and experiences which we hope to grow from.
Here’s three moments I’ll never forget:
When I was 10 (and clearly unsupervised) my older brother, his friend, and myself BBQed all of my old Barbie dolls after making ourselves hot dogs for dinner. We watched the video to Black Hole Sun earlier in the day. The imagery from that video will be ingrained in my mind forever. I remember going to bed that night thinking about the relevance of the Barbie doll roasting. I concluded that it was a play on words; but as a 5ft Italian girl with dark hair, I realized that Barbie looked nothing like me, and was an awful icon for a young girl. It was my introduction to seeing myself as a strong female that didn’t have to fit the status quo. I have Soundgarden to thank for that.
When I first met my future husband, he planned a weekend trip for us. We almost never started dating because I bailed on him to go to a Chris Cornell concert at the Beacon in 2007. I just graduated college and was broke, so we had terrible seats, but you gave us a shout out for our loud cheering. It was the best concert I’ve ever been to. To see a rock star of your magnitude play an acoustic show in a smallish theatre was a brilliant idea. Your desire to play in this context was genius. You brought your children on stage at this show.They must have been about 2 or 3 and it was the most adorable moment. After I heard of your death, all I pictured was those babies. My heart was broken for them.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve pulled out my old Soundgarden CDs, and have been rediscovering them. My three year old was able to identify Black Hole Sun by the intro alone, proclaiming “Black Hole Sun! Turn it all the way loud mommy. It’s my favorite song” and singing along. I was so shocked and proud. Your legacy will live on through those who loved you and your music. I promise you that.
Millions of the fans have smal moments like these centered around the music you’ve made. Although we didn’t know you, you’ve been woven in the fabric of so many of our lives, always present, growing alongside us.
I’ve always thought that maybe in another world we would get a chance to have a meaningful conversation. I would have loved to pick your brain. I’ll continue to dream, hoping our paths will cross in another life, all the while welcoming reminders of you as they appear.
Thank you for always being there.