I’m sitting at my laptop shaking. I’m in tears. I am debilitated with a sudden, horrible, all-consuming grief. I’m trying to sob quietly, because it’s almost 2:30 in the morning and Trevor has to work in the morning.
But there’s nothing quiet about this. My heart is screaming. My mind is wailing and reeling, grasping for a reality that can’t possibly be this.
I’m sitting here, in the relative dark, sobbing my eyes out, in my Chris Cornell concert t-shirt, listening to every song the man ever had a hand in.
Because he’s gone. Chris Cornell, aged 52 (younger than my dad!) has died.
I don’t really have any more words than that. I just… I loved him so much. His music saw me through so many stages of my life. My aunt’s death, my move to Oregon, my wedding. All my favorite shirts are from his concerts. So many memories attached to this glorious, creative, and immensely talented man and his music. All my favorite karaoke songs!
So much of his music, of his art and wonder, has coiled itself up into my life and I didn’t realize it until now. Now, so many cherished moments are so, so, sad.
And I’m in disbelief. I just saw him in November! He just tweeted 8 hours ago about how excited he was to play his next show! He was so alive…
This blog is named after a lyric in Say Hello 2 Heaven! It’s tattooed on my skin! I carry him with me, everywhere I go.
And now every single song aches…
I know that eventually, I’ll be able to listen to his music and it will help me through all these emotions, but right now every note of his voice, every guitar solo, is just pure pain. Pure Mourning. No Euphoria in it yet…
And then I scroll through tumblr and facebook, and I see all these people who feel the same as me. They grew up listening to his music. First Soundgarden, singing all the words to Black Hole Sun, before I could ever hope to understand them or appreciate their grace.
And then my Junior High and High School years, worshiping the funky, grungy vibes of Audioslave, to the point that I still consider them my all-time favorite band. The shirt I stole from my mom in the seventh grade is one I still wear on a weekly basis, and it shows. It’s grey, instead of black, the logo is faded and cracked, and the collar is fraying. But it’s my favorite shirt that I own.
And then my early college days, trying to connect to something I’d thought I’d lost, so I found the Temple of the Dog CD used, and played it on repeat. And then my aunt died unexpectedly and Say Hello 2 Heaven was the song that helped me through. It’s the song I named this blog from. It’s the song I have inked in my skin.
And then, my wedding. We danced to his cover of Led Zeppelin’s Thank You. It’s been one of my favorite songs, and hearing Chris perform it just brought it from the otherworldly realms of Robert Plant and gave it this humanity that just suited starting your life with your best friend.
I first saw Chris in Arizona, with my mom as a joint birthday present. It was the original Songbook tour, the one I got this shirt at, and it was this magical evening of time travel via an acoustic guitar and his voice.
Then, I saw Soundgarden in Portland the first winter I moved to Oregon. My mom flew up and we went together. And it was… mind-blowing. I danced. I sang. I screamed. For a little while, I was certain I had transcended, especially when they played Tighter & Tighter. Hearing that song live, singing and dancing to it, I was more than what lives in this skin. And it sounds crazy but I don’t know how else to describe how Chris Cornell at his best makes me feel.
Blowing smoke and talking wind
Lost my grip
Fell too far to start again
A sudden snake
Found my shape and tells the world
Remember everything is just black
Or burning sun
And I hope it’s a sweet ride
Sleep tight for me
Sleep tight for me I’m gone
Warm and sweet
Swinging from a windows ledge
Tight and deep
One last sin before I’m dead
A sucking holy wind
Will take me from this bed tonight
And bloody wits
Another hits me and I have to say goodbye
And I hope it’s a sweet ride
Here for me tonight
‘Cause I feel I’m going
Feel I’m slowing down
And then, just in November, we went and saw Temple of the Dog in Seattle, on their final night of their tour. It was an amazing experience, one we almost didn’t do because it was so expensive. And while I thought it was worth it on the drive home at 4 in the morning, now I KNOW it was worth it. It was the last time I’d ever hear him sing live again…
And every single song just takes on new meaning now. My world view has shifted. As ridiculous as it might seem, as much as I’m trying to tell myself to calm down, he’s “just a celebrity” I know that’s bullshit.
He’s not just a celebrity. He was Chris fucking Cornell, and he was my all time favorite artist. He was the soundtrack of my life 50% of the time. He’s on every playlist, at every karaoke jam session. He is the artist I turn to when I don’t know how to feel.
The others, I know what I’m looking for, I know what they offer. Snow Patrol is love. AFI is angst. Night Riots is a little of both. Halsey is there for a good time, but you might want to forget about it later. Linkin Park, System of a Down, Korn, they’re all there for anger.
But, Chris Cornell is there for when I’m not sure who I am at the moment. When I need some words that go beyond their purest meaning and have this symbiotic relationship with the music that surrounds them to become something more.
Even one of my favorite holidays is connected to him! Every year I try and “light a roman candle and hold it in my hand,” just in honor of that song!
Because Chris Cornell, in every iteration, has interwoven himself into the fabric of who I am. Temple of the Dog. Soundgarden. Audioslave. Chris Cornell. Forever.
I am so heartbroken. And I know that this grief is nothing in comparison to that of his family and bandmates. I know. And I know that I am not unique in my loss. It has been expressed by thousands already, and as the morning creeps up on us, more and more will know.
I guess… It’s time for me to go to bed. Or lay on the floor of my office in the dark, listening to his entire catalog until I can figure out how the hell I’m supposed to function tomorrow.
How do I say goodbye to this man in a way that can ever actually express what a HUGE impact he’s had on my life? How could I ever pay homage to someone so unarguably beautiful and talented? How do I cope with the fact that the vast majority of the music I love and live by is now dripping in tangible grief?
I don’t think I can ever write words I will find acceptable. They don’t exist. But, until they do:
Goodbye Chris. You were my rock n’ roll soulmate. I felt like your words and your music were part of my soul. I promise, some day I will lay a dozen white roses on your grave.
The girl sobbing in her oldest Concert T-shirt, listening to your voice, no matter how much it hurts.