At Vice, they linked to Ben Stiller’s parody “The Grungies,” which cast Seattle rock as a hollow commodity via allusion to The Monkees’ show (which itself ripped off The Beatles). But The Monkees were the world’s most contrived band, and Cornell was the antithesis; his authenticity was in your face. Anyway, it’s hard for parody to stick to someone who’s already parodied himself, as he did in “Jesus Christ Pose.”
Music critics and music journalists, like art critics, philosophers, and historians are always rushing to quantify artists’ output, as if without a categorization it has no meaning, which isn’t true. Throughout his career, Cornell sang sincerely about personal struggles, and he knew that once he put his work out there, it could be reduced to a trope. What I always admired about Cornell is that he seemed to trust that true fans, the kind of people he cared about and wanted to reach, would care less about slapping the right movement term on his and his bands’ music, than they cared about experiencing it. Feeling it.
Cornell will be buried today, and I wanted to get this very disjointed post up today, as inadequate as it feels in capturing how much he guided me and lent me strength. It’s funny to think how awfully I sang his songs in cars around St. Paul and Minneapolis throughout my adult life. I will continue to grab an acoustic and try “Doesn’t Remind Me,” as long as no one is home. My throat will hurt like hell during its highest parts, but it’ll feel poignant.
I read Chris talking about how his songs are free for fans to take on new meanings, their own meanings. Lines from “Doesn’t Remind Me” will always make me think of addiction:
Things that I loved
Things that I lost
Things I held sacred
that I dropped
On a more positive note, Chris’s own cover of Led Zep’s “Thank You” would be entirely apt. Many at his memorial today in Los Angeles, I suspect, will feel thankful for what his music did for them. I will finish here instead with one of his solo songs. Theresa and I bought a flowering plant and put it in the yard. It’s a breed of Columbine called “Songbird Dove.” It has white flowers, and as long as I’m here and we’re keeping it alive, it’ll be never far away.