Chris Cornell and Grunge Music

“I was lost in the pages, Of a book full of death, Reading how we’ll die alone, And if we’re good, we’ll lay to rest, Anywhere we want to go.”
-Audioslave, “Like A Stone”

Rest in peace, Chris.

The world lost a rock icon on May 17th, 2017. Chris Cornell. The Soundgarden/Audioslave front man was found unresponsive in his MGM Grand hotel room after a performance in Detroit. The initial report is that he hanged himself in what is believed to be a suicide.

Suicide. We need to really look at this word – not to influence, but to study. Cornell was one of what I consider to be the Big 5 of grunge rock, a leader in the early-90’s movement that captured an audience that desperately needed a relation. Of those Big 5 only one remains since Cornell’s unexpected passing, and that is Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Unexpected. We need to really look at that word as well concerning this situation. An unexpected suicide.

Kurt Cobain shot himself on April 5th, 1994. Layne Staley overdosed on April 5th, 2002. Scott Weiland overdosed on December 3rd, 2015. Chris Cornell hanged himself on May 17th, 2017. Eddie Vedder has turned out to be seemingly normal. By the book it can be recorded that only two of these deaths were actual suicides, but I disagree. Staley was mentally ill, and it’s no coincidence his overdose happened on the anniversary of his good friend and fellow pioneer’s death. Weiland had been flirting with death for decades, and knew where his road full of abuse would lead.

These men weren’t junkies; they were incredibly talented but troubled individuals. I grew up in the 90s and it wasn’t the best time for the mind. I look at these emo kids and listeners today, these bands who whine and complain, but – and this isn’t a bad thing in the least – I don’t believe them. Cobain, Staley, Weiland, and Cornell didn’t do what they did to become rock stars, they did it because they needed it. The lifestyle certainly had an influence on their actions, but the decade was very lonely, very chaotic, and very overlooked, and the self-loathing lyrics of these men epitomized the attitude of the youth – and their life behind the scenes was exactly what they sang about: it wasn’t an act and success was not their main prerogative. Music was their release, and their music was our release and we found assurance in the fact that we weren’t alone. With that being said, who but their peers could they relate to? Who was singing to them? They were the pinnacle of depression and internal demons, and when they lost each other, the temple crumbled. However, their legacy will always live on.

So take the next week to listen to Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, and Soundgarden. Reminisce on an era of music that spoke to a generation and shaped the world of rock, listen to the lyrics, understand the madness, and thank these gentlemen for their contributions. They deserve nothing less.

Cheers, guys. Thank you.

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