Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Rock n Roll Suicide: My thoughts on Chris Cornell's passing

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rock n Roll Suicide: My thoughts on Chris Cornell's passing

 It is a most unusual May 19th for me. Normally I have Joey Ramone or Pete Townshend on my mind, but today I'm thinking about Chris Cornell. Right now I'm honestly feeling heartbroken...I feel sad that Chris took his own life. I have no idea what he personally went through and I didn't know how much he was struggling. Some artists do a great job at conveying their pain and somehow in the process healing your own. Chris Cornell is one of them for me.

 The first music poster that I ever put on my wall was Soundgarden. The first music video that blew my mind and made me fall in love with them was Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun." I'll never forget how interesting that music video was to a young me. It marked the beginning of my love for twisted reality; it was bizarre, it bothered me...but I liked it. The melting Barbie felt like an FU to conventional life. The whole music video felt like an FU to what a music video is supposed to be like. And then came Audioslave, which was an awesome band. "I am the highway" and "Like a stone" are two of my personal favorites. I always felt so much 'rawness' in both of those songs. For years I had a drum set, and one of my favorite songs to drum and sing to was "Like a stone." I really can't say enough on how much his music has reached me.

"Cornell has spoken openly of his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as his periods of depression and agoraphobia". And according to this article "Family of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell say he did not intend to kill himself": "The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions." and "Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris or if any substances contributed to his demise. Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages." So I guess the toxicology report will help explain.

 The lyric "Nothing will do me in before I do myself" stands out to me now. Chris apparently said "that looking for suicidal thoughts in song lyrics was hopeless." Just like when Robin Williams hung himself, I asked "Why? You were so talented and everybody loved you." I quickly came to the conclusion that the world loving you isn't enough. Depression is complicated and personal. It is also worth addressing that Chris hung himself on the 17th which is a day before Joy Division's Ian Curtis hung himself on the 18th of 1980.

 While I don't want to focus on Chris' death I can't help but think of the vast amount of musicians who have committed suicide; Ian Curtis, Kurt Cobain, Wendy O Williams, Michael Hutchence, Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, Keith Emerson, Butch Trucks, Phil Ochs, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I feel like I'm regularly talking about rock star deaths, but I don't think I've ever touched on rock star suicide. Taking your life is considered taboo and not to mention hard to talk about for most. Depression is real and is the true culprit in many situations. Whenever someone dies we are quick to ask why. As with Robin Williams, many considered him a beloved actor and comedian. His death was a hard, sad reality smack for most of us. People, including myself thought "If he can't beat depression, how can I?/ What hope do I have?"

 Although I feel that way again, I also feel an ever growing strength. The kind that motivates me to not be the one to take myself down. It inspires me to learn from their tragic loss. As someone who has been through depression and attempts at my own life this hits home for me. I'm realizing only now in retrospect that the music of Chris Cornell is full pain and foreshadowing. From Soundgarden to Audioslave, the music is littered with an obvious struggle. Trying hard not to be taken down, feeling like you're dying and if you die you will be the one who ended it.

"And even when you've paid enough, been pulled apart or been held up.
With every single memory of the good or bad faces of luck
don't lose any sleep tonight.
I'm sure everything will end up alright.
You may win or lose.
But to be yourself is all that you can do." - Audioslave "Be Yourself"

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