Originally published on Survival of the Dad following Chris Cornell's death in 2017.
Looking through my Facebook feed this morning I saw an article which said
"SOUNDGARDEN SINGER DIES AGED 52"
I thought to myself "I fucking hate these clickbait things that trick you" and moved on past.
Then I saw one from The Guardian, The Huffington Post and more and more places. I can't describe the weird feeling of emptiness that I felt as I realised that this was for real. I can only remember the feeling when I heard that Kurt Cobain had died when i was 13 and the memories came flooding back.
Now I can tell you all about what Chris Cornell did in his career with Soundgarden and Audioslave, but you can read that anywhere. I am just going to tell you about how Chris Cornell and Soundgarden helped me when I was a depressed teenager, with no outlet or help for the bullying or the beatings i was taking on a daily basis.
School was shit, really shit. I don't mean that in a melodramatic way but it really was. Having long hair and being different in the early to mid nineties wasn't fun or easy. There was me and 3 others in my year who liked this music, and we didn't really like each other that much. It was a friendship forged through necessity and based solely on music. We were the stereotypical Grunge kids and were obviously singled out by the East 17 loving popular kids of the time. Beatings, being spat on and having our possessions destroyed were regular occurrences and I needed to escape from this reality.
I found this escapism through locking myself in my room with books, comics and music. Having copies of all the Grunge breakout albums (e.g. Nevermind, Core, Dirt and Superunknown) I started delving into back catalogues. This is when i discovered the Soundgarden that would help me through the dark times.
After the opening of Outshined I was transfixed on the music and the lyrics. The first verse just jumped out at me and I can't explain why but it felt like it was being sung at me.....
I got up feeling so down
I got off being sold out
I've kept the movie rolling
But the story's getting old now, oh yeah
I just looked in the mirror
And things aren't looking so good
I'm looking California and feeling Minnesota.
Now I know that sounds like a cliche, but this was a teenaged me, struggling in life and trying my best to be anonymous,whilst trying to be myself. I couldn't tell you what I thought they meant to me now, but at that time they were the lyrics wrote for me. I spent weeks and weeks listening to the lyrics of Soundgarden and applying them to situations i faced, and this made me feel like I could carry on regardless. I still retreated into my own world, a safer place where people liked me and I could talk to them, but when faced with reality I always carried my Walkman and a mix tape of my favourite songs to escape to.
Seeing Soundgarden live in 1996 was a brilliant experience and one that will live with me forever, but today's news has hit me hard. I think it's because you don't expect your idols to be as human as you, they are indestructible and cant be affected by the same things as we can. As the lyrics from Blow Up the Outside World say.....
Nothing seems to kill me no matter how hard I try
Nothing is closing my eyes
Nothing can beat me down for your pain or delight
And nothing seems to break me
No matter how hard I fall nothing can break me at all
Not one for giving up though not invincible I know
As of writing this they have not determined the cause of death*, but regardless of what it is Chris Cornell will always be a hero of mine for saving me when I needed it. He didn't know he did but I am sure mine is just one of the many similar stories from people all around the world.
Thank you Chris for everything you did without knowing.
*Editor's Note: Chris Cornell's cause of death was determined to be death by hanging.
Jan Siery is a husband, dad of two kids, two cats, and a dog, and is an all-around nerd. He likes gaming, horror movies, dark and disturbing stuff, Twinkies, and people telling him things.
Follow Jan on Twitter: @jansiery