The first time I heard Soundgarden, I was around 17. I later heard them more properly in my early 20’s at the legendary party house of “302,” in Normal, Illinois–land of ISU. To understand 302, all you need to know is this–you had to know someone to get in, or you had to look really cool. That meant–freaks, punk rockers, goth, death rockers, skinheads, new wavers, boarders, and the like were in–all others were out. In the basement of 302, we would at times see bands including The Flaming Lips play just inches from us. It was here in the basement too, where each room was a different ‘theme,’ and where massive Marshall stack speakers blasted at top pro sound quality and deafening volume, the latest of all the best music including everything from Jane’s Addiction, Metallica, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cure, The Smiths, and the Sex Pistols, to the more obscure My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Nitzer Ebb, Ministry, Killing Joke, Sisters of Mercy, Reagan Youth, and more. Soundgarden was on regular rotation, and we all loved the band and recognized them as the greats that they were–including of course–Chris Cornell. The frat houses played Zeppelin, we played Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden. Not that we didn’t appreciate and love Zeppelin, but we hit 304 (the 60’s and 70’s party next door) on another night. This was our generation–Soundgarden, Nirvana, Hole, Fugazi, and more.
To those that needed trendy labels, Soundgarden was a part of the so called Seattle grunge scene, along with Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, and Nirvana, among more. To the rest of us, they were just a great, no frills rock band that jammed like few others.
The loss of Chris Cornell–reportedly by suicide, is not only shocking and sad, it makes little sense. Perhaps his family and those others who knew and loved him can understand it, but the rest of the world do not. Some will argue his music and lyrics were dark–which they were. Yet he had a new tour underway, and a family he loved back home. Whether the rumor is true or not–suicide is never a solution. Soundgarden and Audioslave were legendary. Chris Cornell was a masterful talent with a soaring voice like none other. Seattle is mourning with dimming of the Space Needle. The rest of the music world from all genres who knew and appreciated him are mourning too. A greatly underappreciated artist in many respects, he will be forever remembered, and greatly missed.
Textual content copyright Bruce Edwin 2017, all rights reserved.