Chris Cornell will always be a hero and a soldier who touched lives with his voice and talents. If 2016 wasn’t a tough enough year for losing influential celebrities, the addition of Chris has devastated fans who grew up listening to his music.
While Cornell battled depression throughout his life, his songs reflected both his humanity towards it, and lifted spirits with similar struggles.
Although Cornell is highly esteemed as one of the most well-known artists from the 90s and many recognized him for his talent, he is no different than the next person. His suicide cries for others to grow a sensitivity towards those who deal with mental illness on a regular basis.
As a Facebook friend and a diehard Cornell enthusiast said on the day the news hit: “Depression kills people, not just by way of suicide but it robs them of life each and every day they live…We need to stop shaming those who seek help for mental illness.”
Yet as a humble musician, Cornell’s songs did not solely focus on his depression but his depression motivated how his ability to speak to hearts and pour emotion into them by painting pictures and composing stories. The images and stories were of people living their daily life and seeking fulfillment and expressing longing.
Because there are far too many songs in his career I could discuss, I will stick to the magical number three.
“Outshine” describes a person who is “looking California and feeling Minnesota,” showing the conflict raging inside them that others have no idea about. When one thinks of California, sunshine automatically pours into their mind whereas their initial impression of Minnesota is a dead, cold winter. When everything seems fine, everything may not be. While the person has hope, they feel like everything that surrounds them outweighs what they do have.
Another song “Like A Stone” expresses the anguish when a person is longing for someone they love to return home and wrestle with the memories left behind: “The sky was bruised/The wine was bled/And there you led me on.” Anyone who has experienced heartbreak will feel the aching wish for restoration even when they remember their own past love, no matter how long it has been since they lost it.
Most popular of all his songs appears to be “Black Hole Sun”, as bloggers and people outside of the web have talked most about. While many noted Cornell appeared to have reached a high note, “Black Hole Sun” emphasizes on the truth that nobody knows the demons people, like him, war against in their darkest times. It evokes the true story of anyone who has wished at least once that they would disappear.
On the night of his final show, Cornell tweeted a positive note: “#Detroit finally back to Rock City!!! @soundgarden #nomorebullshit.” While other such signs may not indicate his normal harsh reality behind-the-scenes, Cornell may have reached a point where he could not suffer anymore. He needed eternal relief from his continued pain. As the last lines in “Black Hole Sun” go: “In my time of dying, I want nobody to mourn/All I want for you is to take my body home.”
Suicide is more complicated than what some may give credit for and there are no easy answers or solutions. No one knows what factors drive home in a person’s heart when they are as sensitive as Cornell. Despite how famous or successful a person might be, they do not always have it together and sometimes the voice inside their head wins.
In the end, we as a people can only thank Cornell for his gifts in his time that he gave us. We can also honor his memory by keeping his music alive in sharing it with others.