Where were you when? Another dumb-ass question of the human condition. Ha! This can be used to explore any given fraction of time, anywhere, personalising any point in your take on History. I suppose it’s how we find our own longitude and latitude on the map of things.
I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was assassinated, when Neil Armstrong touched down in a Hollywood studio, or when Hitler gave himself a dose of the Final Solution. But…. I was alive during 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, the Miner’s strike, the death of Kurt Cobain, and, now, the suicide of Chris Cornell. I watched the second plane hit the tower live on TV while at work in a Category A prison, and I lived in Yorkshire during the worst parts of Thatcher’s demolition of the Mining industry. These events aren’t things I was ever personally involved with, I don’t own them or their emotional output. SO why do I feel like some of them left a mark?
When I heard Chris Cornell had hung himself I froze. Why? Ok, so I always loved Soundgarden. I know that much. Cornell’s lyrics and voice resonated with me on many occasions. I took acid listening to Superunknown, sat stoned trying not to go too deep into Black Hole Sun. And I rocked out to Soundgarden’s wall of guitars and that screaming-cutting voice many, many, times. I have all their albums. I still listen to them from time to time. And when I do, I turn the volume up. I admired his creativity. And now he’s dead. Why did the news make me so sad?
I’ve come to the conclusion that his suicide hit home with me because I’ve been there. Unsuccessfully. I know the level of self-hatred and sadness it takes to push the button, or tie the noose. It’s so powerful and disturbing that it actually hurts physically to recall. I felt for Chris Cornell not because he was a sort of hero, but because I was him. He just got to see it through while I got lucky. I can’t sing, I’m unattractive, I can’t write music, but when I heard about his death, just for a moment, we were connected. We knew something the others didn’t, no matter how hard he tried to put it across in a song.