Hard Rock Music Time Machine …
A Tribute to Chris Cornell
Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
For the first time in the history of Hard Rock Music Time Machine, we are doing an extended musical tribute to a fallen icon. Last week, the world woke to the tragic news that Chris Cornell had passed away at the age of 52. Since his passing, there have been numerous tributes by the artists who were inspired by Cornell in one way or another.
Hard Rock Daddy published a feature story honoring Cornell as well…
This week, the entire HRD Team is celebrating the music of Chris Cornell’s illustrious career. Although his catalog is simply too vast to truly do him justice, these songs are meant to showcase this immense talent…
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
CHRIS CORNELL – “One” (2013)
In recent years, Chris Cornell has done some amazing cover songs. When it comes to acoustic covers, he was in a class by himself. Cornell had the uncanny ability to stay true to the original while phrasing the lyrics in such a way that they end up having a deeper meaning than the original. That talent alone distinguishes him from most others. Adding to the degree of difficulty is the fact that his covers are of songs that are major hits from high profile artists.
So what could Cornell possibly do to make things even more challenging? How about taking two hit songs (with the same title) by two of the biggest artists in rock and roll history and blend them together into one jaw-dropping cover? You MUST watch to video to get the full back story, but the gist of it is that he was looking to cover U2’s “One” and the lyrics for Metallica’s song of the same name came up first in his Google search.
Cornell’s version of “One” truly is ONE-of-a-kind. With his unique vocal style, he created a whole new song by singing the Metallica lyrics inside the melody line of the U2 classic. He does it so seamlessly that you have to remind yourself that this is not how the song was originally written. Since his passing, the lyrics take on a whole new meaning.
SOUNDGARDEN – “Black Hole Sun” (1994)
Choosing just one Soundgarden song is like eating one potato chip and putting the bag away. Although “Black Hole Sun” is the band’s most popular song, that isn’t why it was chosen. It wasn’t even because it is one of my favorites (although it is). I chose the song because of the origin of the idea, which is explained by Chris Cornell in the video below.
For many years, listening to “Black Hole Sun” has given me a strong feeling, and painted an interesting mental picture. The power of a great poet is to be able to evoke emotions and thought even when you have no idea what the actual meaning of the words are. Yes, Cornell will go down in history as one of the best songwriters and singers of a generation, but at his core, he was an amazing poet.
Whether you think you know the meaning of “Black Hole Sun” or not, hearing Cornell describe the story behind the writing of the song will leave you captivated…
TEMPLE OF THE DOG – “Say Hello 2 Heaven” (1991)
In 1991, Chris Cornell teamed up with members of Mother Love Bone and (yet-to-be-formed) Pearl Jam as a way to honor the memory of his friend, Andrew Wood. Wood – the lead singer of Mother Love Bone – overdosed on heroin in March of 1990.
“Say Hello 2 Heaven” is the second single from Temple Of The Dog’s only album. While the entire project was meant as a tribute to Wood, this song specifically addresses the loss of Cornell’s friend. The song was actually written while he was on tour with Soundgarden. In his own words…
“Right after Andy died, we (Soundgarden) went to Europe, and it was horrible, because I didn’t want to talk about it, and there was no one who had loved him around. I wrote two songs… ‘Reach Down’ and ‘Say Hello 2 Heaven.’ That was pretty much how I dealt with it.”
In retrospect, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” could have been written by any number of artists that Cornell has inspired to describe how they feel about his loss. One lyric, in particular, stands out as poignant foreshadowing…
“He hurt so bad like a soul breaking, but he never said nothing to me.”
The tortured, raw emotion that Cornell displays on this beautiful dedication is what made him such a stellar talent. Sadly, the darkness that helped to inspire his greatness led to his own premature demise.
AUDIOSLAVE – “Like A Stone” (2002)
Audioslave featured Chris Cornell, Tom Morrello and the remaining members of Rage Against The Machine after the band breakup. Cornell hooked up with the band at the suggestion of legendary producer, Rick Rubin, who envisioned the pairing mirroring the Yardbirds transitioning into Led Zeppelin. This quartet clicked right away, writing 21 songs during 19 days of rehearsal.
“Like A Stone” is the second single from the band’s self-titled debut album. On this song, the chaotic accents are calmed by the soothing vocals of Cornell. Although there are some moments that show off his range, what makes this song is impressive is Cornell’s ability to use the lower register just as effectively. The vocals feature just enough melancholy to make you feel the depth of the lyrics, while also leaving you surprisingly uplifted. Cornell blended the dark with the light like no other. If you listen to the lyrics, you can tell that he thought deeply about death…
“And on my death bed I will pray to the gods and the angels like a pagan to anyone will take me to heaven.”
CHRIS CORNELL – “Imagine” (2011)
There will certainly be more of Chris Cornell’s catalog featured on Hard Rock Daddy in the future, but to finish this tribute, I’m going to end where I began…with a brilliant cover of a classic song.
In 2011, Cornell released an acoustic live album called Songbook. The songs varied from show to show on the tour that took place from March – May of 2011. It included interpretations of songs from Cornell’s entire career, and also included covers of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” and the John Lennon masterpiece – “Imagine.”
Lennon did such a perfect job with “Imagine” that it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it justice. Somehow, Cornell managed to not only do it as well as Lennon, but in some ways, it’s even better. He added layers of depth to the song with soulful vocals that had just the right amount of rasp, and some extraordinary falsetto.
Just like Lennon, Cornell left us when he still had so much more to give to the world. I am forever grateful to Cornell for sharing his gift, and incredibly saddened to say goodbye to a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
Rest in Peace, Chris. You will never be forgotten…
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
SOUNDGARDEN – “Into The Void” (1991)
What initially got me into Soundgarden was their sound. Even though they were grouped into the grunge category, their music transcended the description in so many ways. Their Sabbath influence was apparent in so many of their songs. What better to showcase this influence but their cover of “Into The Void” (from their 1991 release, Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas). The band even used alternate lyrics written by Chief Seattle protesting the treatment of Native Americans. All in all, a great cover that did the original justice.
SOUNDGARDEN – “The Day I Tried To Live” (1994)
From Soundgarden’s fourth studio album Superunknown, this song has always been one of my favorites showcasing Chris Cornell’s wide range of vocal styles. As a musician, I have always appreciated the odd time signatures that was used in this song (and many other Soundgarden songs). This was what set them apart from other bands. The entire band was musically talented enough to write songs in this manner, while still being able to capture the audience. The music was as intricate as the lyrical content’s deep meaning. A classic tune by a classic metal band.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
CHRIS CORNELL – “Nothing Compares 2 U” (2015)
The music world lost one of its greatest talents with the passing of Chris Cornell. From Soundgarden to Audioslave to Temple of the Dog and his amazing solo material, Chris Cornell had amassed a stunning inventory of boast worthy material. But for me, perhaps his most poignant works were his innovative and heartfelt covers of classics from my childhood. He was able to take groundbreaking songs and stamp them with his own powerful interpretation, while somehow always remaining faithful to the originals. Here, while giving an interview for Artist Confidential on Sirius XM, he covers a song that Prince wrote and Sinead O’Connor made famous.
CHRIS CORNELL – “Billie Jean” (2007)
Ten years ago (at a live concert in Sweden), Chris Cornell performed this arena-silencing acoustic cover of a Michael Jackson classic. His vocals are simply on a whole other level, and he brings out the deep meaning of the song that the original, amazing as it was, simply never did for me.
Until today, I had no idea how we would end this tribute. There were simply too many heartfelt tributes from other artists to chose from. Today, Chris Cornell’s wife, Vicky, published an amazing open letter to the man that so many adored. Here is her tribute to her loving husband…
To My Sweet Christopher,
You were the best father, husband and son-in-law. Your patience, empathy and love always showed through.
You had always said I saved you, that you wouldn’t be alive if it were not for me. My heart gleamed to see you happy, living and motivated. Excited for life. Doing everything you could to give back. We had the time of our lives in the last decade and I’m sorry, my sweet love, that I did not see what happened to you that night. I’m sorry you were alone, and I know that was not you, my sweet Christopher. Your children know that too, so you can rest in peace.
I’m broken, but I will stand up for you and I will take care of our beautiful babies. I will think of you every minute of every day and I will fight for you. You were right when you said we are soulmates. It has been said that paths that have crossed will cross again, and I know that you will come find me, and I will be here waiting.
I love you more than anyone has ever loved anyone in the history of loving and more than anyone ever will.
Always and forever,