Ward Halford – Chris Cornell

I bought Higher Truth just a few weeks before Mom was in town from Seattle visiting us here in Denver on Christmas…her health was not good and our family ‘knew’ this was going to be her last Christmas.

(Some background – she had lived in London and was married for about 20 years, and after losing her husband she moved back to Seattle about 4 years prior to this, so I didn’t see her much of that period)

I’d been playing the Higher Truth tons, and when driving Mom to her appointments she’d start swaying and moving her arms to the music. She liked the acoustic guitar most, but I don’t think she recognized his voice; I know she heard of Soundgarden but I had to explain to her who Chris was. ¬†It was great for her to enjoy this music with me as we didn’t have very many bands in common at all ūüôā ¬†Higher Truth has so much meaning to me now, in so many amazing and beautiful songs. ¬†It’s tough not to call that his best work. ¬†That music is Chris – honest, deep, beautiful, and of course that voice.

It was tough getting through Higher Truth since she passed, which was a year ago Monday, the date of the Eclipse coincidentally. ¬†Also coincidentally, Chris’ passing May 18 is the same date as Mt. St. Helens eruption 1980 which I remember well…growing up in Seattle I lived in Lynnwood and we heard the eruption. ¬†These days, dates, what I was doing, are now embedded.

Growing up in Seattle, I graduated high school in 1985; so that was a few years before ‘grunge’ was starting to make some noise. I really didn’t like much of that music but I did like Pearl Jam, and then I heard Temple of the Dog and this is when I started discovering Chris. ¬†The greatest Soundgarden music came soon after, and that was everything!! ¬†At work, driving around the city, Soundgarden was IT! ¬†Then when they disbanded – came unexpected to me – and I felt that was sort of it; I had soon after moved to Denver, and to that point had never seen Soundgarden perform live.

Then there was Audioslave. I really connected to this music; lots of meaning within lots of songs, some tough times, some good for me, but I loved all three CD’s from start to finish. But I never saw them perform live either.

I did start picking up Chris’ solo CD’s, and really do love his solo work best, now older and looking back…but Scream really brought my attention. That voice, and really amazing songwriting…

And…FINALLY I got to see Chris live on the Scream tour, I want to say February 2010, it was at the Paramount Theater Denver. I was completely blown away. ¬†His long arms out wide welcoming everyone right from the start, I want to say he was just wearing a white tee and jeans. He made that connection from the moment he stepped onto that stage and kept it through the entire show. ¬†I’ve seen a lot of shows in my almost 50 years, and this one stands near the top.

And then Soundgarden of course comes back and tours, and this again stands near the top for me – Red Rocks! They sounded better than I imagined. It was SO loud, but not too loud – ¬†it’s Red Rocks (this was the first show I saw there in the 20+ years being in Denver) – it was amazing. Chris sounded great. That voice, and ripping guitar – unforgettable. ¬†I also did catch the King Animal tour in north Denver which also was amazing – it was great hearing the new music. ¬†The photo attached is from that show, summer of 2013 I believe.

So I think I started following Chris on Facebook around the time Scream released. It did seem like Chris tried to stay somewhat private, but sometimes seeing pictures of your family – I’m sure I saw Lili, Toni, Chris, of course yourself Vicky. He brought us (fans) in just a bit to his personal life, and ¬†then he kept that connection going. I always looked in, waiting to hear of whats coming next musically, but really enjoyed seeing him happy with his family. ¬†To Toni, what an amazing performance we saw a few weeks back. Beautiful.

I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for him to be away on tour and trying to balance family. I only work a regular work week and have a hard enough time. The morning of May 18 I was downstairs, girlfriend upstairs, just waking up. I heard her saying something about Soundgarden and a death. Right away I knew it was Chris, I don’t know why. But I opened my phone to see the story and tears poured out. I knew about his past, I have one too, life things aren’t always easy. ¬†And my first thought was all those photos with all of you, his family, and – I was just devastated – and knowing how heartbroken you all must have been. ¬†It was heartbreaking for me, just a fan. ¬†Unimaginable.

I wish all of you many prayers in your healing. It doesn’t come quick and the pain never disappears. I hope you all remember the love and amazing things Chris brought you in his life, especially during your tough times. Next trip to SoCal I will be visiting the site.

So many thanks for all the stories, tributes and memories that you all have shared on FB; but especially thank you for allowing us, his fans, to share here and learn more about Chris, and bring our stories to you.

He is a voice of a generation – my generation. ¬†I’ll never forget.

-Ward Halford

Chris Cornell