Chris Cornell: Preaching the End of the World

I was up early on Thursday morning, sitting at my computer around 5:30 AM – and saw the news that Chris Cornell had died.

I was never really into Soundgarden, but Cornell’s distinctive voice is one that takes me immediately back to the 90’s – bridging the span between late high school and early college for me.

All told, I think I was late to Soundgarden. I feel like I may have gotten more into Temple of the Dog before I bought a copy of Badmotorfinger (on cassette tape, mind you).

I have a very vivid memory of being introduced to Temple of the Dog by my friend Wendy Parker. I think she loaned me her tape, and for a time it felt like that band was this secret that only a few people knew about.

In college, I have memories of the living room (in the house I lived in, off-campus) and the oddball video of Black Hole Sun playing on MTV.

Cornell had an incredible body of work, and I have barely dipped into the stuff he did with AudioSlave and as a solo artist. I found a playlist on Spotify of his music, and just started listening to things at random.

There are a lot of songs I think of, when I think of Cornell. But the one I’ve been listening to lately is new (to me): “Preaching the End of the World.”

At first, I thought it might have been a song made for the movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, but I learned that the movie was actually based on lyrics from the song.

I was listening to a wide range of songs, and I kept circling back to this one. And I find it a little strange, as I’m not fixating on any of the songs I “grew up with,” so to speak. I’m not re-listning to songs that echo of my years as a younger man.

This is a new song to me. And the past few days, I’ve been looping it – and thinking a great deal about mortality.

So call and I’ll get right back
If your intentions are pure
I’m seeking a friend for the end of the world

I’m not trying to imbue the lyrics with any added meaning, in light of Cornell’s death (though it’s a little hard not to). I do like Cornell’s voice, but I think I’m learning that I really like his key changes a lot as well. A great deal, in fact.

So this is his song that I’ve been playing on a loop, since yesterday. Thinking a lot about mortality, and the work we do with the time we have. And how, unlike people, you can prevent a song from ending through just a click of a button.

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