Say Hello 2 Heaven: An Open Letter To Chris Cornell


Edited by Brett Buchanan

Dear Chris,

It’s gloomy out today. I’m currently in Columbus, Ohio for Rock on the Range this weekend. You were supposed to headline tonight with Soundgarden. I was given permission to photograph your performance in the pit for Alternative Nation.

Goodbyes are never easy, but as a fan of yours, this one is hitting especially hard.

I’m 21 years old. I was not around to see your career as a musician take off. I was not even a thought when the Seattle Grunge movement took a hold of rock and roll, gave it a dark spin, and threw it back out into the world. But I grew up with your music, thanks to my Dad.

I’ll never forget his words: “You gotta hear this guy’s voice, it’s incredible.”

Before I heard you, I didn’t think it was possible for someone to front three separate bands over their career, and on top of that, release several albums as a solo artist. How could someone be that universal?

Your voice sends chills to the spine. Your words stir the wheels of thought. Your melodies invent emotions most of us never even knew existed.

Your songs have gotten me, as well as many other people, through some of the darkest, as well as some of the best times in our lives. You touched more people than you can imagine. And now you’ve hurt us.

None of us know what you were going through, or what thoughts possessed your mind. We just saw an incredible, outstandingly talented man who loved his family and the world. We took in your music like a breath of fresh air without understanding what sentiments may have been the catalyst for those very lyrics. We forget that musicians like you are just human beings like us. You are people with a gift that most are not blessed with, and you choose to share it with the rest of the world. Your catharsis is our catharsis.

More than it hurts that I’ll never see Soundgarden again, or another Audioslave or Temple of the Dog reunion, it’s painful to know that you felt your suffering so severely that you felt unworthy of life – whether it was an ongoing matter, or even just a few moments. Someone who has inspired so many people and lifted them out of the deepest trenches of their minds, felt as though he wouldn’t be able to come out of his own.

I’ve always supported the notion that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. In my opinion, someone who is endowed enough to write the catalog of songs that you left us is a genius. And with that type of intellect and aptitude comes demons. We all have them. But some people just cannot battle theirs. It grows tiring, and getting out may seem like the only way to silence them. But just because we may never have experienced such dread ourselves, does not mean it cannot be burdening someone else.

We don’t know for sure whether or not this was the case with you, and we may never know. All we do know is that you’re gone.

So Chris, thank you. Thank you for what you’ve given the world of music. Thank you for devoting yourself to your fans and helping them get out of bed and conquer their next day. Thank you for being so invested in the world around you. I only hope that you have now attained the harmony your soul has been searching for.

Fans are all hurting together and sharing the same pain, but you will live on through us. Music is eternal. We’ll keep it blasting.

“I never wanted to write these words down for you. With the pages of phrases of things we’ll never do. So I blow out the candle, and I put you to bed. Since you can’t say to me now how the dogs broke your bone, there’s just one thing left to be said. Say hello to heaven.”

We love you, Chris, and we’ll miss you.  My prayers go out to your family.

With the loudest of love, reporter Lauryn Schaffner