I look at the picture posted as the banner of this page and it fills me with joy. My four-year-old daughter (at the time) perched on my shoulders, watching Arcade Fire perform a free show at Capitol Records. I see the bliss in her face, maybe feeding off the energy of the crowd, maybe feeling the music, or maybe excited for another adventure with her daddy. Whatever she experienced in that moment has stuck with her over the years. And every time we hear Arcade Fire, she lights up, bounces to the music, and is overwhelmed with kid nostalgia.
Music is that potent. Songs can take us back to a specific memory, detailed as a photograph. You can remember where you were when you heard the song, who you were with, what you were wearing. Music can be a time machine in that respect. 1.21 gigawatts of aural power zapping you back to childhood, or high school, or whenever that song, band, singer, arrangement first connected with your soul.
Three days ago, Chris Cornell took his own life. A tragic surprise for all of us of a certain generation. I mourned the same way I did for David Bowie, Prince, and Phife last year, or Scott Weiland the year before that, the same way I did this time of year in 2012 when MCA passed, or spring of 2002 when Layne Staley left us. I played his music loud and on repeat. My musical memorial brought me to Superunkown, an album I hadn't revisited for quite some time. It was my introduction to the band as a sophomore in high school. Like a lot of bands I have fallen in love with over time, it took the more mainstream or commercial album to pull me into their earlier catalogue. I don't know if Superunknown was mainstream, but it certainly was a commercial success. Anyway, listening to the album over the last couple of days has fully taken me out of this moment in time and brought me into that awkward sixteen-year-old body, blaring Fell On Black Days and The day I Tried To Live annoying my mother more than the arrogant, brooding, teenage me typically had.
Specifically, I remember playing the album in my Pontiac Fierro, my first car, as I was driving to a friend's house to watch LAPD chase OJ Simpson all over the Los Angeles freeways. The excitement of the chase was amplified by Soungarden. What a time to be alive and conscious of the world around me. As I honor Chris Cornell by listening to his music, I see my bedroom with Quentin Tarantino movie posters on the wall, I see the smiling faces of my friends and hear all the inside jokes we used to share, I taste the coffee and cigarettes I started experimenting with (my gateway drugs,) I feel the power of my rear engined piece-of-shit American sports car, and I am happy and free.
It's that teleporting power of music I hope to instill in my daughter. I played her Black Hole Sun after Chris passed. She said the song was weird but she really liked it. Earlier this year, she told me No Excuses by Alice In Chains was her favorite song. Her mom and I love introducing her to music and seeing her light up. We create playlists of her favorite songs. Her current includes No Excuses, Undone by Weezer, The Distance by Cake, Where It's At by Beck, Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana, It's Oh So Quiet by Bjork. Seems like her tastes and high school me's tastes are aligned. What should I expect from a child named Bowie?
Thank you, Chris Cornell!!!