How Chris Cornell Changed My Life

I woke up this morning to discover one of my heroes had died.

I'm rarely affected by news or deaths, even personal, but I cannot express how sad I am, so I thought maybe writing about why might help.

When I was like 10-11, all I listened to was rap. This was like 95-96. We lived in a rough area and it's all my friends listened to. Each day, I walked to and from school down a busy road, usually alone. I would find all kinds of weird things, mostly garbage, but I liked 'treasures' so I might pick them up and hold on to them for a few days or store them in my room. One day I found a scratched up CD that had been thrown out or dropped from a car. You could barely read what it said on the label. I took it home and tried playing it but it skipped like crazy and the music was unintelligible. For some reason, I was compelled to get this random CD working, so I bought some scratch repair stuff at Sam Goody (remember that??) and polished the shit out of it. Finally, I got it playing on my old Discman, and for the first time ever, I connected with Rock music.

That CD was Soundgarden's Superunknown album and it's been one of my absolute favorite things this planet has ever produced. 

I was a pretty strange kid. I was taken out and homeschooled through high school because my parents erroneously suspected I was mildly autistic (I'm not) and I kept getting into fights. I spent pretty much every day, for 7 years, in a dark room by myself, playing video games, jerking off and listening to music. I struggled with fits of rage when I was a teenager and music was the best outlet in calming me down. One night, I can't even remember what triggered it, I lost my shit. I remember screaming at everyone, punching things until my hands were bloody, and running out of the house. I wandered the streets in the evening with nothing on me. I stayed out for hours walking around and laying down in the grass and the only thing I recall was singing Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun like some kind of Mantra. For literally hours I sang that song to myself outside and eventually I cooled off and went home. 

Whether it was introducing me to some of the greatest grunge music ever, inspiring me to play guitar and sing, making me feel like James Bond from his Casino Royale intro, or calming me down, Chris Cornell's music with Soundgarden, Audioslave and solo has had more of an impact on my personal growth than I could've ever imagined and as I sit here, listening to all his albums and holding back tears, I hope there is some cosmic amphitheater out there where he's bringing a new light to a dark corner of the universe.

RIP Chris. You brought me more joy with your music than I ever deserved.

If you've never really heard much of his music and want to explore, here are my favorite songs and performances: 

Chris Cornell - Black Hole Sun (acoustic live)

Audioslave - I am The Highway (Live)

Chris Cornell - Can't Change Me (Acoustic Live)


Soundgarden - Fell on Black Days (Acoustic)

Soundgarden - Blow up the outside world