RIP Chris Cornell

When I was 16, music wasn’t just important, it was essential. Living in the depths of Dorset, literally dozens of miles from any flesh and blood peers, I spent my days consuming my favourite albums with a gluttony that bordered on obsession. Head down, I would pore over the artwork, perfect the logos on my schoolbooks, learn every lyric, and read any interview I could lay my hands on. These were more than mere collections of songs, they were my friends, my teachers, my family. 1993 had seen great releases from the likes of Quicksand, The Wildhearts, Sepultura and Terrorvision, but as is often the way, the final months were lean. Come 1994, I was desperately in need of aural sustenance. Although early albums from Green Day and Therapy? kept me afloat, and I adored both, it was ‘Black Hole Sun’ on The ITV Chart Show that wrapped its tendrils round my heart and let me drown. From the second those mournfully uplifting opening notes rang out, coupled with the deep reds, blues and yellows of the video, I was transfixed, but when Chris Cornell kickstarted his vocals, I became his slave, mind, body and soul. Out-Beatling the Beatles in melody; masking pain in an open beauty his contemporaries were ashamed to touch; and cradling an immense fragility in an equally huge wealth of power, his voice stirred something in me that has never left. To this day I still shiver when the song peaks and the title is wailed in banshee stereo. The day ‘Superunknown’ was released, I demanded my parents drive me to Acorn Records in Yeovil to buy a copy, which I still own, and listened to nothing else for weeks. That album, and in particular Cornell’s performance, taught me to stay strong when feeling most weak, to go left when all signs point right, and above all, to never underestimate anything. To this day I regard his voice as the best I am ever likely to hear in my lifetime, and on this blackest of black days, I will be playing it loud. RIP Chris.

Soundgarden RIP

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