Last year we lost a lot of great artists, Lemmy form Motorhead left us (though technically that was 2016 but I still feel that is what set off the catalyst for 2017), then David Bowie and then it was like they all said fuck this crazy stupid world and up and left. Although death is inevitable and it wasn’t really the grim reaper going round on a drunken spree swinging his scythe willy nilly, more to the fact there are a lot more actors and musicians because there are just a lot more people last year just felt like one big long conga line of talent that couldn’t wait to get off this godforsaken planet. I was going to write about earlier but then decided against for whatever reason, then something happened last week and I feel the need to ramble a little.
Most of deaths didn’t shock me that much, although these days being in your 70s isn’t considered that old any more, it’s not really that shocking when some one in their 70s does die, I don’t mean that in a horrible way but it seems normalish. Or when it is revealed that they were sick and it lessens the blow a little because we can reconcile that. But when someone dies in their 50s for no apparent reason, it hits a little more home, not just because they are closer to your age but also because 50 isn’t even past retirement and so by that theory not old.
So Chris Cornell’s sudden death at the age of 52 was pretty much a shocker, in fact I spent pretty much most of the day in denial. It was even sadder to find out that his death was ruled as suicide by hanging, a few weeks after Piers Moran declaring that men need to man up and shut up about their feelings, it’s not hard to see why male suicide rates are higher. Depression or suicide doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t care and it leaves a lasting imprint on those left behind.
Each Generation has their idols, their music, rock n roll, Prog Rock, the Beatles, punk music, for me it was Grunge, so this is the context from which I speak about music. I was always a fan of music from a young age, I loved dancing and singing despite not being able to do wither but Grunge, Grunge woke me up, it was something I could finally connect to, it opened up my music world and with each band I discovered led me to discovering more bands and the bands that influenced them and the writers and the movies, it was the first time I feel I belonged to something, the first time I could be a part of something. I also feel that if it wasn’t for Grunge, Riot Grrls and being apart of generation X I probably wouldn’t be as political or pissed off about injustices as I am. This wave of music didn’t just open doors for me to discover new music but also to think and to challenge.
This music wasn’t passed down to me by my parents or an aunt or uncle, this music I discovered myself, this scene came to life just as I becoming a teen, most of my friends were lusting after Take That. New Kid on the Block were the last ‘boy band’ I ever loved and then I discovered Grunge and I had to educate my parents about what noise I was listening to and why. Soundgarden were a major part of the Grunge scene, the Grunge scene was a major part of my life as a teenage and I’ve lost count the number of times I watched Black Hole Sun on MTV back when MTV was an actual music channel.
But thing about Cornell wasn’t just that he was part of this scene, it was his voice, his amazing powerful voice. So many singers dragged me out of my teen ennui and made me pay attention because of their voice. That was another thing about the Grunge scene it wasn’t just a new wave of music it was a new wave of amazing singers that came with it. Like Cornell, Eddie Vedder, Layne Staley, Kat Bjellend, Mark Lanegan, Donita Sparks, all had powerful voices, raw and powerful and distinctive voices telling you their stories, stories that you need to hear again and again.
We lost a few too soon, like Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Andrew Wood, Stefanie Sargeant but they live on in their music. We will obviously never feel the loss that their families do but there is a reason we mourn artists. They may have been strangers but they shared a part of themselves through their art to which we could relate and it made us feel like we belonged, it made us feel connected, and maybe that is the loss that we actually mourn.