Friday, May 19, 2017

Time Ain't Nothing If It Ain't Fast

The early 1990's "Seattle" music scene exploded nationally with absolutely no input from me whatsoever.  I do not mean to suggest that I had a negative opinion of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, or any of the other bands that formed the tip of the spear of (presuming I am remembering this correctly) the "grunge rock" genre.  I started law school at Seton Hall in September, 1991 and between school, work, and my then budding-relationship with Margaret, I spent precious little time listening to music.  I was utterly unfamiliar with all of the Seattle-area bands.  Truth be told, I do not believe I had ever heard a Nirvana song prior to Kurt Cobain's death. If I did, I did not know it was Nirvana.  To this day, I have no idea what exactly teen spirit sounds like. 

I do not profess - nor would I attempt to because the world is already chock full of posers - to possess a great knowledge of Chris Cornell's musical catalog from the work he did either as a solo artist or as the lead singer of Soundgarden or Audioslave.  I have heard enough of his songs to appreciate both his ability to write them and his profound ability to sing them.  

As humans go, I occupy a comfortable spot on one of the tree of Life's lower-hanging branches.  That being said, I recognize tragedy when I see it.  Chris Cornell's death on Wednesday, at age fifty-two, was a tragedy even before the medical examiner determined that he had committed suicide only a few hours after Soundgarden played a concert at Detroit's Fox Theatre.  

Suicide touches too many families, including too many families who I have had the pleasure and the privilege to know.  Not knowing the man, I would not pretend to know what demon or demons he struggled with during his day-to-day.  Nor would I pretend to know what, if anything, happened on the last night of his life that prompted him to decide that the struggle had gone on longer than he could withstand.

It is for that reason that I find myself respectfully disagreeing with the legion of his fans who expressed anger and outrage at towards Cornell upon learning that his death had been ruled a suicide.  Having not ever walked a single step in his shoes, let alone a mile (proverbial or otherwise), I cannot lay claim to those emotions.  I am of the opinion that no one outside of his immediate family, whether defined by blood, by marriage, or by life, can lay claim to them.  Those emotions belong to those to whom Cornell belonged.  Often times, it seems to me, we the general public overstate the extent of our relationship with public figures who we admire or like.  In our mind's eye, that person belongs to all of us.  The truth of the matter is, he or she does not belong to any of us.

Chris Cornell did not belong to those who listened to his music, who purchased his records, or attended his concerts.  He belonged to those whom he loved and to those who loved him most of all. The privilege and the pain of anger and outrage over his apparent decision to take his own life belongs to them and them alone.

All that matters to those whom he loved and those who loved him the most is that once the decision was made, it was irrevocable.  They shall mourn him however they choose to for whatever length of time they choose.

And they shall love him and shall miss him much, much longer than that - regardless of the length of the mourning period. 


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