“Now shine a light down onto the earth and shake this gold dust out, out of the dirt.” That’s my favorite lyric from a new song by you “When Bad Does Good” that was released this past year. In fact, Chris Cornell: An Artist’s Legacy came out on November 16th, 2018. It consisted of 65 tracks spread over four records – from early Soundgarden to Temple of the Dog to Audioslave to solo material, and everything in between. The last track is your cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” where at the end you speak the words, “Thank you very much, really, I appreciate it.” I find that to be very appropriate given you have always been so gracious with your gifts of song. So, in sequence, the last thing we hear on the record is your voice and love… shining a light down.
Dear Chris, a few weeks ago my five-year-old daughter heard your version of “Thank You” randomly on Pandora. She asked my wife if that was me singing (I love you sweatheart, but c’mon!). Although she loves music, she doesn’t understand a ton about it yet, nor does she know that I used to play a bit many years before she was born. But nonetheless, it spurred my idea to write this because your inspiration is as vibrant as ever.
Dear Chris, while we’re talking about family – what yours has done this past year is absolutely amazing. Your wife Vicky is constantly spearheading incredible efforts towards admirable causes such as supporting IRC, EBMRF, hosting events for the NYSPCC, advancing your foundation and speaking up to help the world of addiction. It’s obvious that strength is contagious seeing your son Chris totally rock the video for the aforementioned “When Bad Does Good”, your daughter Toni sing “Redemption Song” on stage with Ziggy Marley and your daughter Lily deliver a heartfelt speech at your tribute concert. Speaking of which…
Dear Chris, this past January the world came together at the Forum in Los Angeles to honor you and your undeniable catalog. The tribute show was called I Am The Highway It was over four hours of your music performed by some of the greatest musicians on the planet. Like your Legacy record, it was curated by Vicky and your bandmates. Whether you were inside the venue or watching in from afar two things were certain – your impact will forever be to be immeasurable and your spirit transcendent. Then again, why am I telling you about this? You were there.
photo by: Paul Lorkowski
Dear Chris, Soundgarden continues to fire on all cylinders as well. Actually, just yesterday it was announced that there will be a Live From The Artists Den album and an immersive film to go along with it. That was the night you guys performed “Blind Dogs” for the first time. To commemorate the 35th anniversary, an Album of the Month series was created. Starting this past April, a different LP will be made available each month via a limited-edition colored vinyl. It kicked off with Superunknown pressed on 180-gram translucent red and gold vinyl to honor the 25th anniversary of that masterpiece album.
Dear Chris, 25 years of Superunknown really meant a lot to me. I found myself submersed in the record in a way that I can only describe as incredibly emotional. I was listening to an interview back in March with Peter Frampton. He so genuinely spoke of you and getting the chance to collaborate on a rendition of “Black Hole Sun” (for which he won a Grammy of course). Listening back to “Black Hole Sun” at this time moved me deeply, I felt things I never knew existed. It was beautiful. And difficult. And powerful. And meaningful. And… thank you.
Dear Chris, Soundgarden is still the most badass band name of all-damn-time.
Dear Chris, this was crazy… there was actually a “black hole” spotting in the universe. There’s now a fan-driven movement to have it named in your honor. To anyone who said “the first” capture of the black hole I simply said this:
art by: Robert Lee Jordan
Dear Chris, you know who has really honored you in a way that I truly appreciate? Howard Stern. That Peter Frampton interview I spoke of was with Stern and the past two years I’ve noticed how much Stern brings up your name. Your music really “got him” as he says, and he continuously speaks of you in a very profound tone.
Dear Chris, your most courageous body of work, Scream turned 10 in March as well. I had the chance to connect with your producer Timbaland to reflect upon the record. I loved how he used the line, “When Chris walked into the studio.” Something about the “walked in” part really speaks volumes about your presence within any room. And anybody who throws on some headphones, hits play on Scream and listens to it as one continuous piece will always be rewarded.
Dear Chris, so, this is really cool – there’s a documentary in the works that is centered around your life. I believe Brad Pitt is involved as is Producer, Peter Berg. BTW… I slid right into Berg’s DM’s to say – if he needs a writer I happen to know someone : )
Dear Chris, in late 2018, a statue of you was unveiled outside the MoPop in Seattle. It was partially inspired by Paul Lorkowski’s photos (who is also featured here, and often collaborates with me. Paul is the man.) and created by a renknowned artist named Nick Marra. There was a very touching ceremony in celebration of your permanent placement in a city where you will forever be an artistic Godfather.
Dear Chris, we just miss you, man.
Dear Chris, dude! You won a Grammy award this year! It was for Best Rock Performance on “When Bad Does Good”. Your kids so proudly accepted the award on your behalf. Guess who won just a few minutes before your category? The one-and-only Fantastic Negrito! For Best Contemporary Blues Album. How appropriate for both of you to receive such an honor, he thanked you beautifully in his acceptance speech, too. As you said when Fantastic Negrito won his first in 2017, “Sometimes they get it right.”
Dear Chris, your debut solo record Euphoria Morning turns 20 later this year. That album literally changed my life. But that’s a topic for another time. So, follow my way when I’m not leading anyone, open and frayed when you can see that I’m unsure.
Dear Chris, the coming year is an election year which is great. But also,…. Fuck. Ya know, I continuously say the arts are leading the way right now. Sometimes I’m not even sure what that means, but then I hear artists like fellow Seattlite Brandi Carlile (who closed out your I Am The Highway show with a chilling version of “Black Hole Sun” with Soundgarden) and I am instantly reminded as to why I keep saying that.
Dear Chris, back to the I Am The Highway show for a second. After the entire place sang, cried, smiled and embraced each other during that “Black Hole Sun” Kim Thayil grabbed your guitar and put it up against the amps on the stage to let it ring out. It was in typical Soundgarden show is over fashion, but it was also something more. I love that Thayil did that.
Dear Chris, I have to admit, I fell on some black days recently. I questioned whether or not it was worth it to proceed with this writing gig. Idiot. One day I took a walk by myself accompanied by nothing but my playlists. The truth is, some days I can’t listen to your music at all. While other times, it’s the only thing I can listen to. On this particular day I opted for another genre when suddenly in mid-stride, your song “Higher Truth” came on. It was totally out of character in terms of the styles and tempos that were blasting, but it instantly brought me back to our conversation in Baltimore a few years ago – where you sat me down and indirectly gave me the courage to take my own thing and run with it. “Higher Truth” always strikes a chord with me, but this time it crawled inside my head and literally rotated my state of mind. As I walked in the sun, I felt the world spin around as the birds flew overhead. I heard the waves and I felt the rain as it fell upon my face.
Dear Chris, what I’m trying to say is… know that you made (make) such a difference and all that you leave behind will live ‘til the end.