I haven’t blogged for a while, it’s been a tough few months while I adjust to various situations that made me re-think my approach to writing. However, a chance comment to a friend today made me think it was time to get back to it. I was both shocked and saddened by the announcement of Chris Cornell’s death today. I told my friend that he had always been an inspiration to me because although I never had much in the way of musical talent, hearing him sing made me want to write the way he sounded.
If you’re not aware, Chris Cornell is a rock musician, known for the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave as well as a successful solo career. You can find a proper biography online somewhere. For me, when I think of Cornell, I think of the moving Temple of the Dog album that was on almost constant rotation throughout my late teenage years. The album was written by musicians looking to process the loss of a friend and it is full of anger and love and most of all, life in all its messy and complicated iterations.
When I said I wanted to write how Cornell sounds, I meant a strong, unwavering voice that resounds with sincerity and power. A voice that demonstrates anger and frustration but has a foundation in humanity and love that will not be ignored, will not tire, and pushes to the edges of endurance to make a point. The power and strain of his voice is, to me, something to aspire to in poetry.
Part of my recent struggle with writing has been trying to balance what might make me successful in some measure and what makes my heart sing. I was already headed that way, but the news of Cornell’s death has sealed it for me. Maybe I should have learned more lessons in my years on the planet, got more cynical and focussed but my heart won’t let me. I really haven’t changed much since I was a teenager. I still want to write like Chris Cornell sings, and now I know that I will, for all he gave to the world in the form of his music, for teenage Zoe who felt shivers down her spine when she heard him sing –
Influences come in many forms. Writers need to read widely, but they need to be voracious consumers of all forms of art and follow whatever makes their heart sing. They need to live as widely as they read, if that makes sense. I don’t know. It makes sense to me. Thank you Chris Cornell, for all the music you gave the world and for once again helping someone who was lost find their way in times of trouble.