As a legend passes away, my heart aches.
I was up the entire night on Wednesday. When I went to sleep the sun was already shining, birds had started chirping. I drew the curtains to create the illusion of darkness and went to sleep, only to wake up late in the evening. When I did, it was a different world.
I logged onto Facebook and wished I hadn’t. Chris Cornell was no more.
Slave for Audioslave. Image source: consequenceofsound.net
I cannot tell a synth from the accordion, nor can I simply listen to a song and deduce if the band is post-hardcore or post-rock or alt-rock or whatever the hell the genre is. I don’t understand these distinctions inspite of having a musician for a boyfriend. But God knows I love music! Songs are important to me because they are like the background score to my life. They are intertwined with my memories, as is Chris Cornell’s music. A pioneer of the Seattle grunge scene, his band paved the way for so many others and yet, these were not the reasons why he was so close to my heart. It was personal.
You can never see this happen again. Image source: photo.wn.com
My teen years were like that of so many others, yet unlike those around me. My house in Calcutta is situated in a locality that could very well be compared to Harlem, without the great music, history and culture. This meant that most of my friends lived far away and after school I had no one to really hang out with in the evenings.
It was only when we moved to an adjacent building complex which had some empty space that I could finally get a cycle…and I was already 15 by then. My neighborhood wasn't exactly safe for a young girl and I wasn’t even allowed to go buy chocolates unless accompanied. I wasn’t allowed to do most things my peers did. My evenings didn’t comprise of walking to tuitions and loitering around after they were over. I’d see my friends sipping cola, high fiving, cracking jokes as my car swiftly passed them by, chauffeured and guarded, with my mother beside me.
It was during these formative years that bands like Soundgarden, Audioslave, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and The Cranberries began holding the significance that they do for me, even today.
With my square of tiled surface to cycle around in and my Ipod with a playlist that grew longer and longer, I played songs on shuffle and repeat, depending on my mood. I felt trapped. Trapped and alone. So when my Ipod played the words, “Shapes of every size move behind my eyes, doors inside my head bolted from within” and Cornell sang them in his raspy voice, raspy and beautiful, I felt the anger and the pain in me subside, even if for a while. Because it made me think I wasn’t alone despite being lonely.
Disobedience was not tolerated in my household. No raising of voice, no arguing. Bow down and agree, even if you disagree. I yelled and screamed and fought back, vicariously, through his songs. I let my misery and rage dissipate into the words and harmonies of his songs. There were times when I felt something bitter and cold crawl up under my skin. Anger? Maybe hate? I was worried. I didn’t want to be an angry or hateful person. And then I’d cycle, in loop, listening to ‘Be yourself’ on loop. The words “And be yourself is all that you can be” giving me some kind of hope, asking me to not worry and just be. So I listened to his music and did just that.
My teenage hero, now and forever. Image sorce: rocking.gr
They say what makes music so great is that it allows you to escape things without disappearing completely and that’s what Cornell’s music did for me. So when I found out that this man, with his jagged, craggy handsomeness and his greyish-blue eyes, with his gravelly voice and his powerful words had disappeared, altogether, to become a shadow on the sun, I was devastated. He showed me how to live.
I've been walking the sideways
I've stared straight into the sun
Still, I don't know why you're dying
Long before your time has come
Your time has come
(Audioslave - Your Time has Come)
Maybe Chris Cornell was as disturbed as I had been. Maybe he was trying to escape like I was. Maybe he was angry with the world. And though his music helped me go through life, I feel sad that it didn't do the same for him.
Rest in peace rockstar!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101india.com
By Suman Quazi
Cover phot credit : nbcsandiego.com