Chris Cornell

consider this a mini post, a thought really, or a teaser.

i don’t know why, but this week i was inspired to add to my collection of music involving chris cornell. i’ve been a fan since high school – i’m sure somewhere there still exists in my house a cassette tape of the album superunknown.

(i was really really into my walkman in high school. if you give me a moment, and another post to do so, i could probably recount to you every single cassette i owned. there was just a small window of time between when i got my walkman and started buying my own cassettes and when CDs became popular).

i followed chris from soundgarden and temple of the dog to audioslave. i only recently took the time to get into his solo album, euphoria morning, which i think happened because i expected it to be more along the lines of “sunshower” from the great expectations soundtrack, and it wasn’t.

i kind of like the idea of being able to track an artist’s true musical identity through his or her body of work, especially when that person has been involved in more than one project.

one could do a similar study on maynard james keenan (tool/a perfect circle), tom morello (and anyone else from rage against the machine/audioslave), anyone in crosby, stills, nash and young, eric clapton (almost too many to list), scott weiland (stone temple pilots/velvet revolver), damon albarn (blur/gorillaz/the good, the bad and the queen), jimmy page (also, almost too many to name). and maybe some day i will. but for now, i’m not even doing that kind of study on chris cornell, just talking about it.

what does strike me about chris’ voice, is that it doesn’t change, really. if you zoom in on just his vocals in a song like “sweet euphoria” compared to, for example, “hypnotize” there isn’t that much of a difference in the quality of his singing. his singular voice is captivating whether it’s layered over tom morello’s crazy guitar work, or over cornell’s own single acoustic.

listening to a number of groups an artist has been in, particularly in chronological order, is a real treat for the ears, almost a game, especially with a prolific catalog to sample. not only do you hear the artist grow as the years play on, but you get to hear their influence in the various bands that they perform in. right now my chris cornell playlist is 7 hours long (and i’m sure it’s far from complete).

another fun thing i like to do from time to time is start my ani difranco playlist from “anticipate” (the first track from like i said: songs 1990 – 1991) and go all the way to “red letter year reprise” (the last track from red letter year). this is a great activity for long winter days when you are snowed in to your house, when life stops completely, because my ani playlist is just over 20 hours long.

the difference between ani and chris, though, is that i’m sure the projects chris has been involved in have always been more collaborative than almost anything ani’s ever done. when you listen to ani, you always know that that’s her, through and through. a chris cornell playlist is like playing hide and seek. sometimes he’s right there, not really hiding at all, sometimes he’s wearing camo and hiding half in shadows. you can always find him, and the game of doing so is a joy.

  • Barless

    Bad Motorfinger is the CD that totally turned me on to Soundgarden. As heavy as Black Sabbath Vol. 4. Amazing stuff.