If you read yesterday’s blog you know I’m a huge Soundgarden fan. While I’m not a huge fan of drawing “obituary” cartoons, I wanted to do something special for Chris Cornell.
I’ve done some work for The Seattle Times over the past couple of years and Thursday afternoon they asked me to draw a cartoon for their Sunday edition (on a completely different subject).
I had a hectic workload Friday morning. I had to draw a cartoon for my syndication, one for The Costa Rica Star, and the cartoon requested by The Times. I started working at 3:00 AM Friday morning. The last of the three cartoons I drew was the Times cartoon and when I was done and it was approved, I threw out my request.
I told them I wanted to draw a Chris Cornell cartoon for his hometown newspaper and have it run in their Saturday edition. They jumped on it and bumped whatever else they already had set for that page. I finished drawing at 3:00 PM. It’s also a good thing I’m four hours ahead of Seattle.
I had my own cartoon marathon drawing four cartoons in 12 hours. That involved two pots of coffee. I went to sleep Friday night around 8:00 PM and woke up Saturday morning at 5:00 AM. I slept hard.
So while I don’t like obituary cartoons, especially those involving Pearly Gates and Heaven, I’ll break my own rules occasionally. How could I not include “Say Hello 2 Heaven?”
I’m re-posting what I wrote from the day before, just in case you missed it.
I’m a huge fan of music that comes from Seattle. It’s not a bias for the city or I’m carrying a love for flannel and frosty, wet weather that’ll depress the hell out of you. It’s that the artists who come from that corner of the Northwest were kinda isolated from what radio and MTV told us what was supposed to be popular and what we should listen to. While Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana, are all classified as “grunge,” those four bands don’t sound much alike, and they didn’t sound anything like the music radio was telling us to absorb in the late 80s and early 90s. They ignored that and followed their own rules.
Cornell was a brilliant songwriter with a voice that soared above others. You can argue he was the best pure singer to come from the entire “grunge” scene with only Layne Staley from AIC being able to challenge him. That would be a good argument.
Cornell was a rock’n’roll bad ass. Years ago I was hanging with fellow musicians at an after party and the front man (who is a brilliant vocalist and songwriter in his own right) for another band, She Bites Dogs, was drunk and threw out a silly question. “If you’re not gay but had to sleep with a famous dude, who would it be?” He may have also been high. While every guy in the room was stumbling for an answer, he threw out an answer in a millisecond after his own question. He chose Chris Cornell. While we didn’t have time to think about it, it seemed it had been on his mind for a while. But it made sense. Cornell wasn’t just a really good-looking dude. He was cool. He was talented. He’s the kind of guy girls want and yes, guys would want to be. He didn’t even get too much shit when he cut off his long hair in the mid-90s, He was that cool. When you’re that cool, you can do whatever the hell you want.
Cornell has a legacy. Imagine the vocal abilities of Elvis in a format with a hard rocking band with songs that did not suck. Cornell’s vocal cords had balls. Soundgarden was pure fury with an intense depth musically and lyrically. Soundgarden is the band that Nickelback wishes they could be, but to be fair, every band probably wants to be Soundgarden. The first Soundgarden song that will come to mind for the casual listener is probably “Black Hole Sun,” but there’s so much more they should check out. Check out the anger, screaming vocals, profanity, pure adrenaline rush, and banjo (yes. Banjo!), in Ty Cobb.
“Loud Love” is a great description for Soundgarden, yet there was more to Cornell than loud music. While still in Soundgarden and before they made it big, he put together Temple of the Dog, which was a collaboration between him and the future members of Pearl Jam that was a one-shot tribute to his roommate and friend Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone who died from a heroin overdose. Check out Chris dueting with a very young and inexperienced Eddie Vedder on “Hunger Strike.” After Soundgarden he had a solo career that a lot of his fans weren’t very fond of, as the music was a lot softer and, because he was cool and could do whatever he wanted, he covered Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. He also delivered an amazing version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Cornell formed Audioslave (he apparently likes hearing terms in band names) with the former members of Rage Against The Machine. It rocked but it didn’t come close to the innovation, brilliance, and pure hunger of Soundgarden. Soundgarden kicks ass.
Cornell died in Detroit Thursday from an apparent suicide while on tour with Soundgarden. He joins other Seattle music tragedies such as Staley, Cobain, and Hendrix. He wrote about death often such as in “Say Hello To Heaven” from Temple Of The Dog, “Like A Stone”, from Audioslave, and “Jesus Christ Pose” from Soundgarden.
I’m sure Heaven is enthusiastic to say hello to Chris Cornell.
Creative note: This blog took a while because I wasn’t able to find all those links without listening to each song. I have to draw a cartoon today for The Seattle Times and The Costa Rica Star and I’ll be jamming to Chris’ music while I do so.
Update: I misreported that Cornell was on a solo tour. I was wrong. He was on tour with Soundgarden which I should have known. The worst part is, I found that out while writing my blog but failed to scroll up to make my correction. A reader (seen below) reminded me that I needed to correct it. I apologize for that mistake.
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