Reflecting on the loss of Chris Cornell

Reflecting on the loss of Chris Cornell

NEW YORK - 19th JANUARY: Guitarist Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs live on stage at the Ritz in New York City on January 19,1990. Cans of Budweiser beer are visible on the drum riser behind. (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

At fifteen, I listened to a lot of Soundgarden. I wore torn jeans and flannel. I was a survivor of suicide. Music could reach me in a place where my friends and loved ones couldn’t. I loved a lot of music, but the singers that I trusted the most were the ones who knew what it felt like to want to die. From that void, I was able to reconstruct a way to live. 

Today I found out that Chris Cornell wasn’t able to make it out of that place, and it hurt more than I expected it to. Kurt Cobain had been gone long before I picked up my first copy of Nevermind, but listening to Soundgarden had been a way to remind myself that survival was possible. 

I have a lot of positive memories of Soundgarden during adolescence, but the one that sticks out is a time I spent the night at my girlfriend’s. We were there lying next to each other, but neither of us could sleep. She asked me to sing her something. So I sang her “Black Hole Sun.” What else? I’d always felt that underneath the creepy guitar and feedback, that there was a lullaby in that melody. 

I hope Chris can find some rest now.

-Kent Irwin


I never fell for the “Grunge” movement in the early 90s. I just knew it was heavy and I liked the vibe. Angry, dark, beautiful, and thick. Lyrically Soundgarden and even more so, Temple of the Dog had a deep resounding pulse of despair to it. Understandably so given Temple was a tribute to the memory of Andrew Wood, the beautiful singer of Mother Love Bone. Chris Cornell took the reigns of a horse that walked through a valley of torment, and projected triumph from the journey. Demons be damned, you took away a talent that inspired so many in “times of trouble”.

-Eric Lantto


The first CD I ever bought with my own money was Superunknown by Soundgarden.  I have very vivid memories with that album: “Spoonman” blasting from the lifted truck in the parking lot across from the brush-filled field where Chris Schipper and I were walking his dog and smoking pot, listening to “Head Down” on repeat on my discman sitting next to my mom waiting for my little sister’s ballet class to end, Chris Meitzner showing me how to play the intro to “The Day I Tried to Live.”  I’ve spent more of my life with Soundgarden, and more importantly Superunknown, than I have without.  It’s been an artifact that has given me immense inspiration, and in my opinion, was the greatest record of the 90s.

I didn’t know Chris Cornell, but there have been times I felt like I did.  There have been times I’ve idolized his voice and songwriting, times I’ve had to defend him, and times I’ve turned my back on his art.  His music continues to be a huge influence on my own, and I think history will be kind to Soundgarden, and Cornell’s craft writ large.  I’m thankful that it came to me at a time when I needed it and I don’t see myself as the person I am today without Soundgarden.

Depression isn’t something I’ve ever really had to deal with personally, but I’ve seen it erode people I love, and while I don’t presume to know what was going through Chris’ mind last night or the preceding weeks or years, I do know that depression is very real and can rob a person of their soul.  I’ll celebrate the life and art of Chris Cornell, and be present for the people I care about who are struggling.  I feel for the Cornell family and his brothers in Soundgarden.  God speed.

-Clint Neuerburg
{{ Clint made a playlist, available HERE, and embedded below. }}


As a child of the 90s and one with a peripheral relationship to grunge and its players, this death sent a whirlwind of memories and impactful moments through my head and heart. I grew up listening to Soundgarden. As a kid, I stood on the side of the stage at Lollapalooza in 1992, with other random kids – my cousins, my sister, and Lance Mercer’s kids (the photographer who shot some of their most iconic shots, including the one above). We watched as Chris dove off the stage, long hair flailing, into a sea of open arms. I was 10 and I remember how big it felt watching him then, and how that moment is burned in memory. I loved Temple of the Dog, still do, and the emotion that pours through that record only became more powerful and more coherent as I grew up and lost my own friends to tragedy. His first wife, Susan, was also his manager and managed other acts, like Alice in Chains, for a time. She was one of the many in that world that provided such a clear example that women could occupy important roles. In 2001, I got to work a giant benefit event in Seattle in which Artis the Spoonman, made famous by Soundgarden, performed before a huge and hushed crowd – marking a magical moment. At that same benefit show, Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart sang Soundgarden’s praises before launching into a killer cover of Black Hole Sun. It stands today as one of the coolest covers I have ever heard. Carrie Brownstein tweeted, “Those of us who grew up in & around Seattle are acutely aware that we’ve lost nearly an entire generation of local music heroes.” It’s a sentiment that rings true. These were not just my childhood/teen icons, but they were the ones who first introduced me to a world that I’d eventually want to be a part of. My first foray into music, and politics, and culture. His voice that rings that so clearly in my memories and is certainly one of a kind – helped define the era, that defined me. I know there have been many highs and lows through the years, but it’s clear he always stood for so many who experienced darkness, and his impact will be forever felt. My heart goes out to his bandmates, family, and all those who are reeling from this news. <3 

-Britt Curtis