Isn’t it funny how certain songs can trigger memories that you otherwise would never had remembered ? Back in 1989 I was a 15 year old moody teen, sitting in the living room in a Stockholm suburb ,watching MTV’s ‘ Headbangers Ball’ with Vanessa Warwick. Suddenly this song came on that totally blew my mind, the intro stopping me in my tracks and then came THAT voice that send shivers down my spine and covered my body in goosebumps. That song was ‘ Louder Than Love’ by Soundgarden.

From that moment on I left the love of poodle rock bands like Poison behind, and became a firm grunge convert. Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Nirvana became the soundtrack to my teens, but also to my twenties, thirties, and still in my early 40’s, my love for the songs that these bands wrote live on as strong as ever.

I got to see ‘Alice In Chains’ live in 1993 in London, and got to meet Layne Staley courtesy of one of their crew who did the lights or sound on the tour (my memory is failing me in old age)  He wanted to impress me ,I suppose, by introducing me to Layne. I felt very awkward as I didn’t want to be mistaken for a groupie (which I was sure there was plenty of ). I loved the band’s music, but that was as far as it went. And besides, meeting your musical heroes can be a great disappointment. What if they were complete a**holes ? Then your favourite songs would become tainted. But I went along as my Italian friend Marina ,aka the firecracker, was throwing a hissy fit  and said she would never forgive me if she didn’t get to meet Layne, and all because of me !

We went into this room backstage and there were lots of people. I can’t remember who was in there. All I can remember was being introduced to a woman in their entourage, their manager possibly ? And next to her sat Layne. I felt that I had no business being there, not because anyone made me feel that way, but because it was a very surreal situation to me. I knew this band’s songs inside out, they were in my life almost daily, but I didn’t know them. Why should I be here ?

I recall being taken aback at how very fragile Layne looked , he looked cold, he was shivering, think I recall him being wrapped in a blanket. Marina was in her element, but I really couldn’t see the point in being in that room, and I left. I wanted to continue listen to this band’s songs as I always had, I didn’t want to know what they were like as people, their music meant too much to me.

The following year , Kurt Cobain took his own life. Nirvana was no more. In 2002, Layne dried of a drugs overdose. I was devastated. In 2011 Alice In Chains former bass player Mike Starr died, also of a drugs overdose. Then yesterday came the news that completely shook me…

I picked up my phone to check my Facebook notifications when I saw that my sister had posted a Swedish news article ,and I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I had to re-read the headline again and again, before I Googled it, just to see if it was a very sick hoax. Both my partner and I work from home. I walked up the stairs in shock ‘ Nooooo! Nooooo ! Noooooo ! This can’t be right, it just can’t be, this isn’t happening!’. My partner asked what had happened . I replied ‘ Chris, Chris Cornell…he…he is dead !’.

The tears came out of nowhere, I was stunned, I was devastated, heartbroken. I was sad when David Bowie died, I was very sad when Prince passed away. But Chris Cornell ? I was shell shocked ! It felt very strange to be so deeply affected by the passing of someone who I had never met, but he had been in my life for 27 years. All the memories that Soundgarden’s songs trigger in my mind, happy memories, sad memories, memories spanning over 2.5 decades. I remember being that moody teen who wanted to escape my life. Not in a morbid sense, I had a very happy home life, but school was a living hell for a bullied teen, and all I wanted to do was to escape and build a new life somewhere where no one knew me. And when I did just that by moving to London at 19, Soundgarden was still with me, getting me through it all with their songs. In my 20’s I went through some difficult times when I was in a very toxic relationship, Soundgarden was still there in the background . And my love for their music stayed with me throughout my 30’s and into my 40’s, their songs playing in my ears on my Spotify playlist when I go for walks.  If you need to let of stress ? Go on a  very brisk walk with ‘ Jesus Christ Pose’ blasting through your earphones, I guarantee it will help !

So that is why it hits you so hard when one of your favourite artists pass away. You didn’t know them, but their music is part of the soundtrack to your life, creating memories that will forever remain with you.

To find out the cause of Chris Cornell’s death made his passing all the more tragic. To feel so incredibly low that you cannot see a way out is unthinkable to many of us. My heart is breaking for him, and for his family who is left behind .

May you now rest in peace Chris Cornell. Thank you for being a great part of the soundtrack to my life.

Advertisements