Underneath my yellow skin

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RIP, Chris Cornell

I woke up this morning to the news that Chris Cornell is dead. Not only is he dead, it’s possibly a suicide. I reacted strongly to the news, and that surprised me. See, I was never a big Soundgarden fan, nor an Audioslave fan. I was not into the grunge movement at all, but of course I knew who the slight guy with the huge voice was. I was in the middle of writing another post when I read an article on FB about Cornell’s death, and I can’t get it off my mind ever since. I’ve been listening to this on repeat for the last half hour:

His voice is otherworldly. There’s something angelic about it, but also earthy. Like many gifted people, he made it seem effortless when he’d glide from a growl to falsetto with ease. Every time I heard him sing, I thought he was not meant to be living among us. It was always metaphorical, though. Like, a voice like that is meant to soar high above us, not mingle with us mere mortals. He is one person whose singing can send literal chills up and down my spine.

I’ve listened to several of his covers, and they are incredible. He takes the song and makes it his own without losing the core of what made the song powerful in the first place.

The thing is, when I listen to Cornell sing, I can’t help but feel all the emotions pouring out of him. The pain, the rage, the agony. Especially the pain. Cornell lays it all out there every time he sings, and there’s a steep price to pay for that.

I think that’s what I can’t get over. More than losing an incredible talent that could evoke so much emotion from his listeners, it’s knowing he was such a conduit for all the darkness in this world. One of the downsides to being creative is being exposed to all the shadow emotions that most people deny, shy away from, or simply don’t realize exist. I don’t think you have to be mentally ill to be creative, but I do think you have to be open to things that aren’t always safe or good for you. The trick is knowing how to control it and not let it control you, and that line is invisible at times.

It can be a burden to see things others don’t see, to feel things so deeply, your heart literally aches. I don’t know if this was true for Chris Cornell, but his voice says it was.

Chris Cornell is, was, incredibly attractive for so many reasons. I joked that I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers, and it’s not just his piercing blue eyes and intense gaze. It was the whole package, including that incredible voice and, yes, his brooding nature. I’m attracted to the darkness as are many other creative types.

I’m sitting here, stunned, by the death of a man I didn’t know, never met, and only knew through his music. I can’t put into words why I feel this way because I simply do not know. I haven’t been hit this hard by a celebrity death since…Alan Rickman. That one made sense to me; this one does not.

I wish I had something pithy or wise to say to wrap up this post, but I do not. All I can say is it’s so fucking sad that Chris Cornell is dead. Another one taken from us way too soon. RIP, Chris.