When I heard the dude from Soundgarden died, my immediate thought was “huh, I wonder if the overdose was intentional?” When I later found out he actually committed suicide by hanging himself in a closet – in the process, forever changing the meaning of his song “Pretty Noose” – all I could do was shake my head. And also, secretly ponder if it was a case of autoerotic asphyxiation gone awry, which apparently happens WAY more frequently than we’d like to imagine.
Of course I liked Soundgarden. In high school, I always had CDs of Badmotorfinger and Louder Than Love in my backseat. One of the highlights of my senior year was getting sloshed on Dr. Pepper and vodka while tailgating for Freddy vs. Jason on opening night, with “Rusty Cage” and “Outshined” looping over and over again. An aside I know, but if you haven’t heard Johnny Cash’s cover of “Rusty Cage” (aka, Jon Fitch’s intro music,) you’ve really lived a sheltered existence. Let me fix that for you real quick:
Allah-damn-it, I love that. But back to my main point. Despite being a fan of Cornell’s music (although I thought Superunknown was quite possibly the most overrated album of the 1990s and couldn’t stand Audioslave), when I learned his corpse was drawing flies for real, I felt anything but sadness and disappointment.
In fact, I pretty much expected it. How the guy managed to make it to 52 before offing himself I actually found more startling.
I’m not going to heap any undeservedly lavish praise on a dude who has made millions of dollars and probably had sex with thousands of people and done every drug known to man three or four times and got paid to travel the world and scream like a monkey before countless fans who would drink his sweat like the Eucharist yet STILL wasn’t satisfied with his own existence. If the guy valued his life so little that he was A-OK with strangling himself to death next to a pair of blue jeans and a Screaming Trees tee shirt, I suppose I should foster the same amount of enthusiasm for Chris Cornell’s life that he actually demonstrated. Which – as apparent by the fact he ain’t around to write a rebuttal to this article – is none at all.
I can’t even pretend to be morose – even nostalgically morose – when people like Chris Cornell and Layne Staley and Scott Weiland assume room temperature anymore. In fact, all it does is piss me off. These are guys that had so much to live for and so much money to make. They were never going to be poor, they were never going to be culturally irrelevant and no matter what, they were going to be worshipped as rock gods on the fateful day they did die.
But that wasn’t good enough for them. They just HAD to use all that fame and wealth and prestige to turn into hopeless, helpless junkies. With their vast fortunes, they could have done so much good for the world. They could’ve built schools and helped cure diseases or give downtrodden kids college scholarships. But nope – they took their money and decided it was better spent on a lifelong addiction to coke and heroin.
Yeah, maybe being a rock star is tough. But it’s not tougher than making minimum wage for a living. It’s not tougher than raising three kids on your own. And it’s certainly not tougher than being a refugee from a wartorn country. You think if any of those people had Chris Cornell’s money, they would’ve spent it on drugs and blown their brains out? No, because they actually would’ve appreciated their good fortune and spread it around to help the less fortunate.
That’s why I HATE it when people like Kurt Cobain are celebrated as “heroes.” These suicidal rock stars are the very antithesis of the word – they’re all a bunch of self-loathing, self-absorbed, egotistical dillwads that place their instant gratification above the wants and needs of anybody else. THAT is why so many of them wind up keeled over with a needle in their arm choked to death on their own vomit. They don’t care about anybody but themselves, and a lot of times, they’re just too stupid to realize the error of their ways until it’s too late. And naturally, when the moment hits them that THEY are the ones responsible for their ennui and depression and detachment instead of “the man” or “culture at large,” they do the easiest thing possible – just like Adolf Hitler, they kill themselves.
Do you ever flip on the TV and see commercials for children’s hospitals? The next time one is on the tube, take a real good gander at the 8-year-olds battling terminal brain cancer. Think about how much they and their parents would give for just five more years on this earth. Now think about people like Chris Cornell and Scott Weiland, who voluntarily gave away a good 50 or 60 years of their normal, relatively healthy and exceedingly happy lives, on total whims.
There are millions of people on this Earth fighting death and disease and disability that would’ve sold their soul to Satan to get all those years of living Chris Cornell threw away.
To hell with your syrupy, pathetic celebrity grave worshipping – that’s the REAL tragedy of Cornell’s untimely (yet totally voluntary) demise.