If you saw the the title of this blog and assumed that this is a tribute post to Chris Cornell, you would be 100% correct. I would like to share some insights that I have had today, 18 May 2017: the day I heard that Chris Cornell passed away after playing a sold out show at The Fox Theatre in Detroit, USA on Wednesday 17 May 2017 with Soundgarden.
These insights are concerning the impact that the life and death of this iconic ‘Noise – Maker – par – excellence’ had on my life.
If you don’t know who Chris Cornell is, or have never heard of Soundgarden, I hope that you will enjoy discovering this golden chapter in the history of modern music. If you don’t enjoy discovering it, well I hope that I never have to meet you personally, since we would probably just have absolutely nothing in common.
Around 1993 – I was 15/16 years old, and had by that time become completely besotted with bands like Nirvana, Metallica, Pearl Jam and anything else resembling these – I discovered an original cassette (remember those?) of Temple of the Dog in a box containing mostly stuff that has no purpose other than gathering dust. I soon discovered that included in their line up was Stone Gossard on rhythm guitars, Jeff Ament on bass, Mike McCready on lead and Eddie Vedder as a guest singer providing lead and backing vocals. This was a precursor to the forming of my all time favourite band Pearl Jam.
In 1994 an album called Superunknown by Soundgarden was released. It is to this day one of my all time favourite albums. The album has been certified five times platinum by the RIAA in the United States and has sold around 9 million copies worldwide and remains Soundgarden’s most successful album.
In 1996 I went on to study music at Technicon Natal, and I stopped listening to music for the sake of enjoyment. I became a scholar, mostly studying jazz with guitar being my first instrument. The rest is history…
“Alive in the Superunknown –
First it steals your mind and then it steals your soul…” – from the title track of the album Superunknown by Soundgarden…
I’ve been playing music professionally for nearly 2 decades now. I’ve done tribute shows to all decades since the 60’s. I once saw a 90’s show that included not a hint of Metallica, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Smashing Pumpkins. It seems to me like everyone just conveniently forgets that the 90’s ever really happened. As a solo artist I cover these artists whenever I get the opportunity, and the response is always the same: “No one else plays this stuff!!”
The lyrics quoted above optimises for me what the 90’s were about in more ways than one: The Superunknown. Rage Against the Machine said it well too: Wake Up!!!!
I was recently challenged in a conversation with my father in law. His challenge was: “While finding yourself within the noise – make sure not to lose sight of the end.” He is a retired mechanical engineer – bless his soul.
Today, 18 May 2017 – the day I learnt of the death of one of the most profound “noise – makers” death, I have come to the realisation that the noise IS the end in my business. I love the noise, and the noise loves me. It changed me; gave me a voice, an education and a purpose. If it were not for the noise I would not have met my wife, to only mention 1 thing.
Dear Chris: We are going to miss you. Our hearts are broken along with millions of others who were deeply touched and moved by the beautiful noise you created during your life – which seems to have ended too soon. Thank you – we love you, and always: “…I’m together with your plan…”