One of things that really keep me hooked to music is that when you have something on your mind, perhaps some sort of struggle, a burden that is yours to bear, and you are a bit exhausted, but you know you have to go on. You may not have the strength for it, but you go on anyway. Then out of nowhere, you chance upon a song, sung by a person who you have no connection with at all, perhaps no chance of even meeting them. Yet there is a certain sense of relief that someone out there knows what you are going through and you feel strengthened by that, that someone understands.
That is what Chris Cornell is to me.
I could have used ‘was’ here, but that would imply that he is not my idol anymore. He is.
I must have been 14, or even younger, I think, when I first heard Audioslave. The song was Like a Stone. I was into pop music back then, slightly rock, and metal was alien music to me. I even remember I didn’t understand the song; I just liked the fluid voice in which Chris sang. All I used to sing while it was on TV was I’ll wait for you there like a stone, I’ll wait for you there alone.
Soon after that, Papa had brought home a DVD player (I didn’t have a computer in my home until five or six years ago) and I had songs burned on a CD by a friend at school. And with the TV remote as a mic I tried to emulate Chris and sang Exploder, Be Yourself, Like a Stone, Cochise, If You’re Free, One and the Same, Jewel of the Summertime, Nothing Left to Say but Goodbye, and what not, to my full voice.
It was a transcendental feeling.
For more than 10 years, Audioslave have been with me, longer than any other band has been. I don’t claim to be a big fan of Audioslave, but I know that it was there whenever I needed it to be. I haven’t heard much of the solo project of Chris Cornell, or Soundgarden, but Audioslave is my thing. Even now, I can play any of the albums by them and enjoy every second of it.
So, on Thursday, when I came across the news of Chris Cornell’s death, I didn’t believe it. I was sure he had just turned fifty or something and was still making music. I googled and it was hard to believe what I was reading. There was a lot I wanted to say then, but I could think of nothing. Few hours later I heard that Chris Cornell had, allegedly, committed suicide, and now it has been confirmed, I think. Then, there were articles by people talking about depression and suicide, like what happens with every such incident. I only sat there thinking, ‘If he did commit suicide, does it change any of my feelings towards him?’ He is a hero to me and, suicide or not, I was just having a hard time accepting the fact that he is no more.
Many great musicians have died in the recent years, including Jeff Hanneman, but even his death didn’t affect me so much because I had started listening to Slayer just a year or two before the incident. When I was introduced to Kurt Cobain or Ronnie James Dio, they were both dead and I will always remember them as great singers of their time. But Chris’ death hit me; I had been listening to the same three albums for more than a decade now. How was I to come to terms with the death of a person whom I felt I knew so well because of my connection to the lyrics he wrote or the voice that he sang them with?
But now I have. It took me a few days, but I did. I’m sorry I am not writing anything about my book this week, but I had things on my mind that I wanted to say.
And now, I sing these lines for Chris:
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I’ll wait for you there like a stone
I’ll wait for you there alone