Remembering Chris Cornell
2010-11 was a transforming time in my life as I crossed bridges personally and professionally. My mate from the other side of the world, Adam Baker, told me in March he would come back to the US to see the Pearl Jam anniversary shows, which I assumed would be in the Northeast, but instead setup shop 40-miles from my house. We covered it for antiMusic.
Adam mined his own soul in the years leading up to this show and throughout the entire weekend, our eyes bulged with many "did that really just happen?" moments. Jams, guest appearances, a museum, geeking out and sharing music stories with other super fans, it was a Utopia. Then came the encore. Chris Cornell showed up and for the third time ever, joined Pearl Jam for a TEMPLE OF THE DOG reunion.
He had a big bushy beard, it was grey and yet he took to the stage like an elder statesman and when he opened his mouth, his voice sent chills down my spine. The "grunge" scene exploded at a critical juncture for my generation. Even if you hated it, you couldn't escape it. Ironically, while I loved the twirling kaleidoscope nature of Soundgarden's songs, it was the TEMPLE OF THE DOG album that I listened to the most. There was an intangible aura around his voice that shivered my soul. Below is an excerpt from my review and looking at it now, it feels eerie to have written these words 6 years ago.
To me Chris was a musician who elevated the art form, always gliding down now and adventurous avenues who enlightened my life and I will miss him but for others, who knew him and spent their lives next to him, this is a loss of a friend and father. The weight on their shoulders right now is something I can't fathom and they're the ones I am keeping in my thoughts. Take stock of your life, be thankful for what you have and if you feel desperation running through your veins, reach out and talk to someone, you are not alone.
From the 2011 review: "The evening's jaw dropping moment occurred in the first encore with the arrival of Chris Cornell in the encore for a set of Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog songs. The four song set is something Pearl Jam fans have been pining for and it's rarely ever alluded to as being possible. However, Saturday night Cornell took to the Alpine Valley stage and helped bring Pearl Jam and Seattle's music history into focus. Just like Mudhoney is linked to Green River, the Temple of the Dog project was created as a way of paying tribute to Andrew Wood, the former singer of Mother Love Bone who died far too soon eventually paving the way for Pearl Jam to be birthed. The first Temple of the Dog jam occurred in October of 1991 at the Rip Magazine birthday party and twenty years onward, it's only taken place a few times. The Mother Love Bone track "Stardog Champion" was a pleasant choice and Cornell's vocals suited the song. "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Reach Down" began the Temple of the Dog section of the show. Cornell often closed his eyes and let these songs take him away. Written in honor of Wood's life (who was also Cornell's roommate), he dug deep for these performances going somewhere he hasn't gone often. So much of Pearl Jam's catalog has to do with surviving the trenches of life. Death is an obstacle and Cornell with Pearl Jam as his backing band brought comfort and close to some who have experienced the loss of someone. When Vedder reappeared and the band performed "Hunger Strike" it took the show to that next level. It was more than a gift to their fans but a gift to themselves as well. Vedder's voice still sounds youthful and alienated and as Cornell wailed in an anguished howl "I'm going hungry", you couldn't help but be swept up in the emotion of not just the moment but the entire evening. Cornell, who has a full beard, was in strong form with his vocals providing a trembling reminder of not just our lives, but of the brotherhood the Seattle music scene. It was co-opted by anyone and everyone, but these friends who hoped their music might change a few lives at some point discovered Sunday night that they did indeed change lives; I just don't think any of them thought they would reach people half way across the globe. " Read the full review here
Remembering Chris Cornell