Missing someone you don’t know may be weird, but it’s a daily occurrence for me. I listen to Chris’s music as much for comfort as I do as a tribute and to prove that he lives on fiercely in the hearts of everyone who was touched by his music. As a writer I have a lot of influences, though in addition to stories and other authors, music is pivotal to who I am and what I do. I can’t begin to think of how many hours of music I listen to in a day, a week, or have listened to in my life for that matter.
Hours upon hours I’ve spent in the company of Chris… his voice, his lyrics, and his music. People often focus on the voice but man, what a musician. What a song writer. His lyrics can be dark and cryptic poetry, they can be visceral and cathartic, or they can open as many wounds as they mend. He was as tender as he was powerful and could switch gears anyway he wanted to.
I’ve found a lot of comfort during these past months by having conversations with one of my 3 best friends. I share special bonds with each of them, but Antonio is my musical brother and we’ve cried a lot during these past months. We’ve been there for each other and we’ve talked about always being there for one another. The only other artist that begins to hurt me this much with his passing is David Bowie but Chris was something different. Bowie was like in another stratosphere, down to Earth, sure, but still, you could believe he was from Mars if they said so. Chris was different. He was human. Flawed, broken, resilient, inspiring, beautiful in so many ways.
His music came into my life between ’91 and ’92. I was 11 or 12… a kid. A child in the cusp of beginning to become a man… and I switched from listening to Hip Hop to listening to Temple of the Dog, which led me to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd, Blind Melon, and beyond… his music changed my life. It changed me. And for the better I might add.
People are sometimes on the fence when it comes to saying if Soundgarden is metal or not. It’s heavy as it gets and the loudest band I’ve seen live. But this wasn’t speed metal. This wasn’t thrash. This wasn’t knuckle dragging guitars. It was heavier. Odd time signatures, weird lyrics, soaring vocals, and quite simply a band NO one could cover. Although each musician is impressive in their own right, the chemistry between Chris, Kim, Matt, and Ben was is not something you can emulate without embarrassing yourself. Sure, people can try and cover Black Hole Sun… but that’s one of the few songs they can even begin to approach. Beyond being that good, they shall always be that unique, which is way heavier than being metal.
With Audioslave, Chris’s voice reached a new audience and they were quite the band even if I prefer their original bands more. That said, Cochise inspires me to break stuff, Shadow of the Sun haunts me, Be Yourself is worthy of being anyone’s anthem, and my brother always calls me when he hears It Doesn’t Remind Me.
So that’s one epic band and two super groups to his name. Then he has his solo work. People will overlook Scream but I don’t want to. Sure it’s not my cup of tea and made me miss his other work more… but you know what? He went for it. And he didn’t just do a halfass effort, he REALLY went for it. So it’s not my cup of tea or the cup of tea of many people, do you know the courage it took to do that? The balls? He wanted to give it a go and he did. How many people do you know who always do something to please others or who are afraid of putting out what they believe in? He never held back.
Then he put out Songbook. Him and a guitar. And it’s a beautiful album. It made us yearn for more. Then King Animal slapped us silly, rocking harder than pretty much anything you could think of. That album is 4 guys reinvigorated and playing as if they want to destroy a world with a four-piece band. Then he released his best solo work, with so many beautiful songs.
So much music. So much talent. But it wasn’t just about music with Chris. He gave so much. That’s why it hurts that he’s parted. Because even with all those successes and so many milestones, he was so wonderfully human and incredibly giving. I miss Chris because more than one of my favorite musicians, he was a friend in my life through his music as well as through his example. He is someone I can look up to and that will always be the case, because in many ways, he showed us how to live.
In love and music
I left this piece as a tribute to Chris on a tribute section on his website. If you'd like to leave some words, by all means. Click here.