Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell & My Life

            Another sad, unnecessary loss.  Another voice that hugely influenced my formative years gone.  I know that I am only one of millions who woke up to the heartbreaking news that legendary frontman Chris Cornell was dead.  It makes it even sadder knowing that likely it was suicide.  It’s like a punch to the gut.  Reminds me a lot of Robin Williams, someone who was so loved and so influential yet could not find their own inner peace.
This was going to start off as a tribute to such a great musician and voice, and it still will, but before that I need to address the ‘how.’
            I saw someone on Twitter write today that ‘depression doesn’t care who you are.’  It is so true.  I have dealt with my own bouts of depression over the years.  The worst one came in 2001-2002.  It was at this point that I was on three different medications to combat this illness that is so hard to describe and so hard for people to see.  It is more than just ‘feeling down.’  It is much deeper than something you can just ‘snap out of.’  It just becomes your life, your own prison that you sit in waiting for another shoe to drop, the shoe that brings you back to who you were.
            For me I had a wake up call when my three medications negatively interacted.  I could not get up from my bed, feeling as if my stomach was full of liquid.  I thought it could be a GI bleed.  911 had to be called and paramedics had to come to get me.  They had to literally unscrew my bedroom door off its hinges to be able to get the stretcher inside and wheel me out.  At the hospital when trying to set me up with an IV the nurse missed the vein and ended up filling much of my right elbow with fluid.  It was a bad scene, I was angry at myself, at my head, that I had allowed this depression to take me down this road to where I was being rushed to the ER due to medication complications.  However that was not my true wake up.
            My aha moment was looking off to the right as I was being wheeled out of my house and seeing my 2-year old niece terrified and upset at what she was seeing.  I had never felt so badly as I did then, knowing that something going on with me caused that fear.  She made me fight it.
            I left the hospital and vowed to never take another pill for depression again.  I quit all three meds cold turkey.  Yes, I have had bouts of depression in the 15 years since, including one this year, but no matter what I try to put it all in perspective and keep going one day at a time.  I was lucky to have family and friends who helped see me through it because I let them know what I was going through.
            The sticking point is that last part.  Those going through depression need to summon that strength to tell someone what you are going through.  If not it can mask itself as someone being busy, or being anti-social, or numerous other things.  The thing is Chris Cornell had people that loved him, his wife and two kids and family beyond that who could have helped.  It may feel like you are weak because you are dealing with depression and asking for help, but it is the opposite.  It takes strength to admit you need a hand in life.  I did it and am here today.
            Chris Cornell joins Scott Weiland, Layne Staley, and my non-family hero Kurt Cobain on the Mount Rushmore of Grunge artists who are now gone.  It is amazing how death hits this genre so often.  He had one of the greatest voices I have ever heard in music.  With an unbelievable range and power that could reach through the speakers and slap you in the face.  I will not going into depth about favorite songs, they will be shared below.  Chris could be soft and soothing, or hard and untamable, back and forth.
            His gift was so strong that he made a name for himself with three different bands, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, and on his own.  The Seattle scene of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and more.  This is the music that I identified with, this is the music I grew up with.  It is sad and yet fitting that the people responsible for creating so much of this music were every bit as flawed and human as me.  This is what made them relatable. 
            I am so sad that Chris Cornell ended his life last night.  His memory will live on in his wife and kids, and of course his music.  Thank you Chris for being a huge part of the years that made me who I am, I will not forget you.  Rest In Peace

            Below I am sharing my ten favorite Chris Cornell tracks, in no particular order.  Take a listen and see why this loss hurts so much.  Thank you.

Soundgarden - Superunknown

Audioslave - I Am the Highway

Chris Cornell - Sunshower

Temple of the Dog - Say Hello 2 Heaven

Soundgarden - Fell On Black Days

Soundgarden - Outshined

Audioslave - Shadow On the Sun

Chris Cornell - Billie Jean

Soundgarden - Rusty Cage

Soundgarden - Birth Ritual

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