As soon as you think the talent taking grim reaper of 2016 has melted away into the mists of history this morning social media and even Radio 2, broke the news of the passing of Chris Cornell over night. Aged only 52, he and his Soundgarden brethren from the City of Goodwill played what would turn out to be their last show in Detroit before he was found dead in his hotel room after he hung himself.
I’m not a massive fan of the Seattle band. I just think it highlights more important issues.
My first dabble into the band was via their Hands All Over EP that I picked up from Mike Lloyds Music in their bargain bin. It was a 10″ vinyl and the cover was pretty snazzy fold out affair. When I listened to it though I thought it was awful.
Roll on a few years and with the 1991 album Badmotorfinger they became a monstrous band for a relatively brief period of time. Rusty Cage always seemed to be on heavy MTV rotation. That position was solidified when Superunknown surfaced three years later. All I own physically by the band are the CD singles of Spoonman and Black Hole Sun.
Until Audioslave released Cochise from their self titled debut album in 2002 I don’t think I listened to anything new from Cornell. In 2006 he was bestowed the privilege of performing the theme for the James Bond film Casino Royale. I’d say this is what propelled him to the general public’s consciousness rather than anything he did with Soundgarden, Audioslave or prior to both Temple of the Dog.
The whole grunge scene seems fraught with tortured geniuses. If there was an influential big five from the innovators of grunge the only frontman still alive is Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains and now Soundgarden have all lost their frontmen to drugs or suicide.
Two things that have annoyed me a lot today is some of the attitudes towards his mental state, or mental issues in general. Firstly comments along the lines of “he had everything, how could he be depressed?” To be honest, it’s also a view point I might have had a number of years ago.
I’m not claiming to be an expert in the field, but it is such a deep rooted affliction that it can be some of the smallest and irrelevant things that can offset someone’s mindset. They might have loads of money, massive record sales, adoring fans or a million dollar mansion. If there’s a darkness there anything could throw them over the edge. It’s probably been well hidden in public but in private things could be completely different. People’s coping mechanisms work in different ways to all situations. What you and I take for granted, i.e. receiving a negative comment, can be a tidal wave of pent up frustration to the next person and a feeling of uselessness. But do they want to draw attention to it? Maybe instead they publicly laugh out loud at it.
Which leads me on to irritation number two. “Why not speak to someone about it?” I saw one comment about someone who has strong bonds with their family and band mates and could discuss anything. Congratulations to them. Let’s see what really happens when foresight isn’t a relevant option.
If it’s family at the root of it all then where do you turn? If you segregate yourself from the rest of society and just “get on with it” on an individual basis day to day then you’ll have no one to speak to who you think you can confide in. It especially seems a male trait that you don’t talk about stuff like that. It’s fine saying you could, but if you are feeling that low and negative could you handle the rejection and humiliation that you will ultimately be expecting?
Coming out and confiding in someone, anyone, is the hardest thing those with a mental illness can do. To some they might see suicide as an easier option to deal with it. They won’t have to bother someone else and unload all their problems onto someone else. If you can’t process the electrical impulses in your brain correctly the pieces others have to pick up are secondary thought to their escape route.
Yes it’s good to talk, which in itself seems such a blasé statement. I’m pretty certain we all bottle up something, it doesn’t have to be depression, anything you consider to be a problem that no one can help you with. Broaching the subject is not as easy as you’d think. It takes much more determination to bring it to the forefront. It’s not a quick process either. The people you’ve known for years or decades could be struggling for all the time you’ve known them. It doesn’t suddenly hit you like a virus. It sits inside the darkest recess of your brain and festers away long term.
Be proud of any one who faces their fears and be understanding. Let them talk. If someone will listen and not be judgemental it’s a positive step.