I woke up this morning to the news of the passing of a hero of mine. Chris Cornell. As a child of the 90’s, I grew up on the tail end of the grunge movement, which I’m personally quite proud of. While all the other little girls I knew had crushes on members of crappy boy bands, I was forever debating which grunge frontman was the dreamiest. And this debate always led me to Chris. But my appreciation of him went deeper than that. Words. Words are what matter to me. Obviously. Or else I wouldn’t be here. Doing this. All the fucking time. And as a low-level wordsmith, I know that the best thing I can do is learn from people who are better than me. So here I am. To discuss and celebrate the things I learned from Chris Cornell about being a better creator in every way.
He taught me not to be afraid to try something that was a little out of my comfort zone. Alright, so this resulted in some really shitty poetry in my teens, but it was still worth my time. Because art that makes you a little uncomfortable is the best kind. It’s the kind that makes you grow. It’s the kind that shapes you as an artist. Chris was in multiple bands. He did things on his own. He did things with people within his genre. He did things with people who weren’t in his genre. He did things for records. He did things for films. Always trying something new is the whole point, isn’t it? And that’s what he did his whole career. Within reason. Which brings me to my next point:
Know what you’re good at. Which you can only truly find out by experimenting. See also: my last paragraph. Learn your lane. Your lane is important. It’s only when you find out your very specific niche that you can know how far can veer off and still remain good. And authentic to your own voice. I don’t think such boundaries really exist for people like Chris, though. Pouring your whole heart into something makes it great, even if it isn’t always good. Once you know yourself, you have no excuse to just phone it in, do you?
Chris taught me to explore who I am. He taught me to be strong about what I believe in. Even if it doesn’t always make new fans for you. Believe in what you think is right and stick to it, by God. If it matters, then you shouldn’t be quiet about it. I’m not giving you a free pass to be an asshole just because you’re right and you think someone else is wrong. That isn’t how it works. But if you have beliefs–and you must–you must be ready to defend them. You can’t be afraid to tell people about them. Because they’re a part of you, and ultimately a part of what you think the greater good is meant to be. So be a crusader. Even if you’re a lonely one.
Chris was a talent. Chris was a good man. He was a great singer. He was a greater songwriter. And he’ll always be important to the scheme of music. And to the scheme of our culture itself, in his own dynamic way. Don’t misunderstand me when I say that I don’t care how he died. Because I care very much about the way that he lived. He lived for his art. He lived for his family. He lived for what he believed in. Even if he drew criticism for it. I think that’s a lot more important, don’t you?