Chris Cornell’s last song, “The Promise,” has been nominated for a Best Rock Performance Grammy for 2018.
I wrote the article Why Chris Cornell Is The King Of Grunge back in January, right after the Audioslave reunion. I watched the performance online and was impressed. He just finished touring Higher Truth a few months prior, then did Temple of the Dog, just did Audioslave, and now Soundgarden was going on tour? He was on a roll.
I had to make a few revisions, of course, because the part about he and Eddie Vedder being the last ones alive is….no longer true. I saw Soundgarden for the last time in April at Welcome to Rockville, and the news of his passing broke the morning I was traveling to Rock on the Range where Soundgarden would have been headlining the next evening.
Alternative Nation is reposting this article because these are the reasons we believe “The Promise” should win the Grammy, so he can live on through the legacy of his music in 2018. Not because he should be glorified since he passed away, but because he was one of the best musicians ever, and “The Promise” is further proof of this.
First and foremost, his range was what made him stand out so much from his contemporaries. It was incredibly extensive, and he implemented it into most of his songs by growling deeply and belting high. “Beyond the Wheel” by Soundgarden is perhaps the most appropriate example of this. While Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Scott Weiland, and Layne Staley were the other main signature voices of the grunge era and all have their own distinct vocal styles, Chris’s range and crisp sound made his the most extraordinary.
Not only was he an outstanding singer, but a gifted and poetic songwriter. From social issues to sweet songs about his daughter and family, none of his verses sound forced or nonsensical. Here’s an excerpt from the chorus of his emotional song, “Sunshower”:
Though your garden’s gray
I know all your graces
Someday will flower
In a sweet sunshower
Fronting Multiple Acts & A Solo Career
Chris was a successful musician over his career by fronting three different bands and also maintaining a solo career. He founded Soundgarden in the early-mid 1980s, before Nirvana. They got a deal with SST Records in 1988 to release their debut record Ultramega OK. In 1990, he formed Temple of the Dog to honor the late Andy Wood, his roommate and frontman of another Seattle band called Mother Love Bone. They put out a self-titled record in 1991, while he was still fronting Soundgarden as well.
After five studio albums, Soundgarden broke up in 1997, and Chris pursued a solo career. He put out Euphoria Mourning in 1999, and then founded the supergroup, Audioslave, with members of Rage Against the Machine in 2001. Audioslave’s overall vibe was not as dark as Soundgarden’s, but instead was more thunderous, staying natural to Rage Against the Machine’s original sound. The pounding riffs and his iconic vocals together established Audioslave as one of the most popular bands of the 2000s, until they called it quits in 2007 after releasing three records.
He put out two more solo records following the split of Audioslave in 2007 (Carry On) and 2009 (Scream). In 2011, he released the popular live album Songbook, which featured his acoustic solo performances. Soundgarden reunited in 2010 and released King Animal, their final album together, in 2012.
Since 2015, Chris Cornell had done more for rock than any musician in years. He fronted Mad Season’s Sonic Evolution reunion show in Seattle, put out another solo record, Higher Truth, in 2015, and then toured extensively over the next year in support of it. In the fall of 2016, Temple of the Dog reunited for its first tour in honor of their album being released 25 years prior. With only eight dates, the tour sold out in MINUTES.
Chris reunited with Audioslave for a few songs at Prophets of Rage’s Anti-Inaugural Ball in January of 2017. Around this time, Soundgarden also announced they would be headlining major festivals with bands like Metallica, Def Leppard and Korn. They also announced their own spring tour supported by The Pretty Reckless.
Their final show with The Pretty Reckless at the Fox Theatre in Detroit would be Chris’ last performance before he took his own life in May of 2017. This was the night before he was set to headline Rock on the Range with Soundgarden. Soundgarden also had another album on the way.
He also did tons of covers as well as collaborations with Slash, Carlos Santana, Zac Brown Band, and more.
“The Promise” itself is a whole other reason to add to this list. About the Armenian Genocide, the song oozes his sheer passion for bringing turmoil to light. He was compassionate about the world around him, and now it misses him.
Chris left behind a legacy that most other musicians have not even come close to. Three bands and several solo records, hundreds of songs both original and covers. An inimitable voice and unsurpassed lyrical talent. A lover. A leader. An icon.
No one sings like you anymore.