Chris Cornell: “Can’t Change Me” (In Memoriam)
Chris Cornell’s death came at a time last month when Reselect was down for a week due to hosting issues, and in the ensuing days, and then weeks, I couldn’t quite shake myself out of the inertia that followed that (in retrospect) fairly brief period of downtime. I had enacted a bit of melodrama in my head that my site was never going to recover from this setback, and while I don’t actually think a whole lot of people noticed, I have to admit I was, temporarily at least, not very inclined to get a new post up. But hey, looky here! I’m back…
One thing I noticed in the outpouring of emotions and tribute for Chris Cornell after his suicide [it’s still so very sad to have to write that] was a focus on his work in Soundgarden — which is not in the least bit surprising, of course, given that that was where the bulk of his recordings and performances had taken place. Saying that I noticed that is just about as insightful as someone commenting after John Lennon’s death that, interestingly enough, the focus seemed to be on his work with The Beatles. What else would you expect? All I’m trying to get around to say is that I didn’t hear a lot of attention being paid to Cornell’s solo work. And his first solo album in particular, Euphoria Morning, definitely deserves to be paid attention to. It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as any of Soundgarden’s albums; maybe not quite equal with Superunknown, but just a step or so below. Released in 1999, it’s a personal, confessional album that showcased both his remarkable voice and, in a way that hadn’t quite been possible in the group setting, his songwriting. It’s solid through and through, and my favorite of the bunch is the leadoff track, “Can’t Change Me,” which seems to me as much a “this is who I am, like it or not” statement as it is about the woman trying to do the changing. Whether he is dismayed by the fact that he can’t be changed is uncertain; I think he wrestled with himself for a long time.
Following 2016, the year of far too many deaths of major figures in the world of music, Chris Cornell didn’t just seem like another one to tack onto the list. He was one of those whose death I didn’t realize would hit me as hard as it did — maybe because I never imagined it to be imminent, but also because he felt easier to identify with, as he seemed grounded in a way that many rock stars aren’t, somehow wiser to the ways of the world. To realize then that he could nonetheless arrive at the sense of hopelessness that would push him to take his own life . . . well, it just doesn’t feel any good. He will definitely be one I continue to miss.