The news this morning shocked me, as much as it must have everyone else between 40 and 60: Chris Cornell…died.
God…how am I even supposed to eulogize him? All I can think is he’s Yet Another Dead Grunge Rock Icon…the music of the likes of Cornell and Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvanna, Ministry…I can’t tally the dead, any more…they were the Soundtrack to My College Years, along with the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, The Ramones, The Doors, The Cramps, The Sisters of Mercy, Pearl Jam, the Lemonheads, Rage Against the Machine, The Tragically Hip, Jane’s Addiction, Blue Rodeo and Our Lady Peace…it’s as if the only ones still alive are all the ones who started to suck epically; even Cornell made the mistake of doing a Timbaland album, but he came back from that, too.
All I can do, honestly, is wonder what the fuck happened…what is it about my generation’s musicians that they seem so predisposed to die so young? We lost Scott Weiland just a few months ago…now Chris…who’d apparently all but beaten his demons…and now…
A wise man once told me to live life with Death over my right shoulder…since my cancer scare a couple of years ago and a dear friend’s recent cancer scare, since my mother’s concussion last year and her slow recovery…the Archangel Azriel seems so close to my right shoulder as to be ever whispering in my ear.
Tonight, along with a lotta people my age, I suspect, I’m chilling, toasting Cornell, and listening to his work with Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, and of course, his non-Timbaland related solo music.
I feel a profound sadness…a profound loneliness tonight. Looking back on the years between then and now…so much has happened…more than I could write, if I had three times as many years as I’ve lived, left to write about them.
The 1990s were the decade that defined me, as a person. I discovered my sexuality, my personal identity, I honed my creativity (And subsequently wrote The Unearthing before the decade was out), found and lost loves and friends…and made choices and decisions that, to this day, effect and even define me.
Yet, in the grand scheme of things, Generation X was caught in the trough between the cresting waves of the Baby Boomers and the fucking Millennials. Gen-X indelibly changed the music scene…we even birthed a few good actors, writers, and entreprenneurs.
But for the most part…Generation X was lost in the shuffle of importance and significance…caught up in an economic disaster we weren’t prepared for and shunted aside by history in favour of younger, more clever kids who grew up in a world without the promise of a Good Job For Life After School, and the lie of the nonexistant Middle Class.
Listening to Chris’s voice…I mean…Cornell’s range was incredible…and tonight, listening to all that music again…it somehow sounds different, knowing he’ll never sing another note.
I think of the times I had, his voice on in the background…in my car, at my friends’ places, bars…live…there’s no recordings of those moments, except maybe in my head, and the heads of the people who were there.
How many of us lost a longtime, practically lifelong musical companion, today? How many of us are slowly realizing that our own futures grow shorter, darker…as the past stretches on, growing brighter the farther from our grasp it gets?
God damn it, all I’m fucking doing is trying to find words to express what I’m feeling, and all I’m doing is fumbling through maudlin stream-of consciousness.
Fuck it; it’s all Generation X: none of it fucking matters, anyway.