In my experience after Chris's death, the phrase "fight depression" was nothing more than a tool, a means by some to tell me that I'm wrong, cruel and insensitive for expressing my beliefs. My beliefs rejecting the official narrative of suicide. In my experience, those who told me to "fight depression" were in actuality telling me to shut the hell up. Those individuals throwing the phrase of "fight depression" were not advocates for mental health, battling addiction and suicide awareness.
Lastly in my experience, those same individuals who claim to be crusaders "fighting depression," behaved and spoke in mannerisms dangerous to those who suffer from mental illness.
If you want to talk, let's talk. No BS.
All that I've expressed and whatever I do express, is bound to offend someone. I don't deny feuding with a few I've encountered on social media and I do my best to be considerate, understanding and respectful regardless of opposing views. However, no one is exempt from criticism and everyone has a right to cast doubt and question everything.
If you've read everything I've written in my previous posts, you know very well I do not believe Chris died by his own hands. Not by accident nor choice.
I've been a fan of his for 14 years from Screaming Life/FOPP to Higher Truth. Open about his past struggles of addiction, alcoholism, depression, his 12 year sobriety, a new Soundgarden album, touring, family and to his overall passion for living for me were not of a man who would've taken his own life abruptly. The objective side to this? THE FORENSIC EVIDENCE!
It'll soon be two years and I still have no absolute closure with his death. Nevertheless, I carry on with what makes me happy and fulfilled. Writing, writing music, playing music, drawing, painting, analog photography, sculpting. . . I could go on! I encourage those whom I've met, the wonderful people and fellow fans of Chris Cornell, Soundgarden, Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, Mother Love Bone, Bowie, hell all singers and all genres of music, to do the same. Carry on.
Listen to Portishead's "Carry On."
There's nothing in this world that sets my heart of fire like music does. I love all genres! I wouldn't be here if the art of music didn't exist. I type this out as I'm listening to the sensual bass line of "Kingdom of Ice" from The Filthy Tongues.
Whatever the era though, there are requirements: a uniqueness of intellectual lyricism, instrumental delivery and a strong voice to pull me in. Whatever the vocal profile.
I've held thousands of artists I admire on a high pedestal, sometimes dangerously getting absorbed into the aura of them. The persona. The starry-eyed admiration I've carried ceased as I grew older into adulthood, being heavily inspired to create and master the craft of my own art. Evidently, those that I'm in awe of are simply human beings. Human beings who've grown, triumphed, made mistakes, went through to the pits of hell and back. Chris Cornell in particular, was a human being.
I've had moments of my life of depression through being extremely timid, not making a lot of friends and being a bit below average academically. M typical teenage rebellion also a common culprit. Although I wasn't medically diagnosed with depression, prescribed any medication, had zero drug addiction or contemplated suicide, once in a while I felt negatively affected. This was usually from my mind drifting back into uncomfortable situations, facing people I did not like and grossly feeling their bad vibrations. Basically, I was a human sponge out of being overly sensitive. Though additionally, I'd fantasize having the confidence to speak my mind and to act accordingly. However, some would argue that my experiences are not prerequisites for depressive disorder.
This isn't to say I'm line with those who have it more serious; those who are medically diagnosed. Over time, I've grown to embrace who I am and got better. But once in a blue moon, I'm bawling my eyes out for no reason to skipping happily towards the sunset.
We all go through depression sometimes in their lives whether we realize it or not. Mental illness is and will always be complex and complicated. In a perfect world, we should all be acknowledged and treated strictly on our individual circumstances, not thrown into mere categories.
The death of Chris struck me harder than any loss of a person in my adulthood. As cliche as that was, I found it the same for other fans. The tears and the dwelling grief I still feel for him are real. There were times though where I felt a bit foolish, knowing very well I'm just a fan. A spectator of someone awesome I didn't know personally, but was so up close to him that previous year, the curious sweet look he gave me at the Jack Singer. Our birthdays within the same week of July.
His close family, friends, but most importantly his three children, were the ones who suffered greatly than I ever did.
I lost one friend to suicide many years ago that shocked me. Someone close to me dying by their own hand was nothing I've ever dealt with before. I've had family members die, but all due to old age and I was never really close to them as they were overseas, my mother and father landing in Canada before I and my brother were born. What I know deeply of myself, besides being in such wanderlust all the time, is that I don't cope with death very well.
First Personal Steps.
Bryan Gibson, the awesome multi-instrumentalist who toured with Chris as some of you may know, launched a fundraiser last year before Chris's birthday. Sunshower: A MusiCares Fundraiser. I made a donation of $100 on July, 20th/18 which would have been Chris's 54th birthday. Putting in a donation eased my heart a bit, knowing my tiny contribution would assist fellow musicians in anguish. Knowing I could focus more on something meaningful I could educate myself on, helping me heal the lingering pain I carried from Chris's passing.
I read further into the organization MusiCares and I fell in love with what they do. Months after Bryan launched his fundraiser, I read more into local organizations that focused on mental health. One organization I found here in Calgary I plan to volunteer at called Elements. Becoming more aware, more involved, helped me immensely in so many different ways.
Chris himself was also involved MusiCares; CHRIS CORNELL Talks About His Battle With Addiction published in 2007. How cool is that?
Beauty and truth collide
Where love meets genocide
Where laughter meets fear
Confusion all around
And as I try to feed these mouths
That have never known singing
And before I let one more tear hit the ground
I will be the one standing between you and the sound. - Chris Cornell; The Keeper.
Chris wrote "The Keeper" for the film Machine Gun Preacher. Money raised from the song benefited the non-for-profit charity Angels of East Africa. Dedicated to rescuing children from war, rebuilding shelter, helping out with access to food and clean water, health and education. The Hollywood take on Sam's life is alright though I prefer a more accurate and realistic approach in biopics.
"They're acting like you'd see my children in a photograph, smiling and being kids. That really influenced the writing of the individual song more than anything." -Chris Cornell; SONGFACTS.
Chris was passionate about helping children, and his philanthropy stood out to me greatly with his song "The Keeper" alone. Another reason, among many reasons, why I don't believe Chris would have permanently left his family. For me, promoting what he stood for seems to be overshadowed by many in the spotlight. Expressing platitudes of "how great he was" as if I didn't know that already. Remember "The Promise?" What promise is being kept? Keeping Chris's memory alive with supporting his beautiful foundation for helping the world's most vulnerable children? Unfortunately, the alleged fraudulent activity that took place within the charity and apparently without Chris's knowledge, tainted the foundation's humane purpose in my eyes.
I committed to a $20 monthly donation to Angels of East Africa, and adding the charity to my folder of thousands of other organizations I plan to lend support to on a greater scale.
For advocating for mental health, addiction prevention and suicide awareness, the first and obvious key step is to talk about it. Educate yourself, share and exchange knowledge with other people. You must be actively involved! And it isn't enough for me to just name drop organizations here.
Until recently, I've never fully thought about mental health issues, focusing more on myself and how I can improve in various ways. To have care but without abandoning your own inner peace and taking the time to listen to someone else's story, understanding the darkness that they live with and offering unconditional support, could slowly lead to improving their well-being. Saving their life.
Unfortunately, there are absences of what we understand as "warning signs," little to no communication and substance abuse leading to a sad end. Sudden and unexpected.
The best anyone can do is to listen, talk about it, educate oneself, educate others, reach out, get involved and donate if possible.
Every bit is worth it.
Chris Cornell: NOT BY SUICIDE.
With Chris's death, I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories, rumours or deep discussions into his personal life. With any artist, it's important to understand that their private lives should be off limits. It was only with the death of Chris I've crossed boundaries I didn't feel I had any business
going into. Being obsessive of the case but hell, I didn't care! I desperately wanted to know what happened to him. Who killed him.
Chris Cornell killed for what reason? Alleged mishandled funds from his foundation, possible marital problems, a possible divorce, contracts, certain people around him with much to gain from his death, envy, a physical confrontation leading to drastic measures to whatever the most reasonable possibilities. Chris's death, with most certainty, was NOT BY SUICIDE. "Just Like Suicide", "Pretty Noose," "Worried Moon," "Fell On Black Days," "The Day I Tried Live" or any other songs that are deemed "dark" from merely a glace have, and continue to help me, as I'm sure it's the same with other fans, heal and move forward in life. Selective songs should not be used as confirmation of his supposed suicide.
To me, it seems that conjecture to suicide and drug abuse is widely excepted.
"It's about trying to step out of being patterned and closed off and reclusive, which I've always had a problem with. It's about attempting to be normal and just go out and be around other people and hang out. I have a tendency to sometimes be pretty closed off and not see people for long periods of time and not call anyone. It's actually, in a way, a hopeful song. Especially the lines "One more time around/Might get it," which is basically saying, 'I tried today to understand and belong and get along with other people, and I failed, but I'll probably try again tomorrow.' A lot of people misinterpreted that song as a suicide-note song. Taking the word live too literally. "The Day I Tried to Live" means more like the day I actually tried to open up myself and experience everything that's going on around me as opposed to blowing it all off and hiding in a cave." - Chris Cornell in 1994; Rolling Stone: under, Is “The Day I Tried to Live” on Superunknown a heroin song? I recommend reading the entire article!
" You don't know what drives somebody to do that, but if I ever committed suicide, I would do it in a way that meant no one ever knew that it was suicide - because to me, the biggest fear of killing myself would be what it would do to my friends and family." "If things are fucked enough that I want to kill myself, the last thing I want to do is go out and really fucking hurt a bunch of other people." - Chris Cornell in 1994 on Kurt Cobain's death; Tales from the Crypt! 55th paragraph. I recommend reading the entire article!
“If I think about the evolution of my life as it appears in songs for example, Higher Truth is a great example of a record I wouldn’t have been able to write, and part of that is in essence because there was a period of time there where I didn’t expect to be here. . .,”
“And now not only do I expect to be here, and I’m not going anywhere, but I’ve had the last 12 years of my life being free of substances to kind of figure out who the substance-free guy is, because he’s a different guy. Just by brain chemistry, it can’t be avoided. I’m not the same, I don’t think the same, I don’t react the same. And my outlook isn’t necessarily the same. My creative endeavors aren’t necessarily the same. And one of the great things about that is it enabled me to kind of keep going artistically and find new places and shine the light into new corners where I hadn’t really gone before. And that feels really good.” - Chris Cornell; 2015. The Life & Times of Chris Cornell (Link provided is to a Wikipedia page with Chris's many quotes. Rolling Stone Australia; The The Life & Times of Chris Cornell, an article from which the quote is from an interview Chris had with the publication, is no longer available. What Chris Cornell Has Said About Depression and Addiction published May, 18th/17 is another source of the quote.
"What ends up happening with musicians and actors is, they're famous, so when somebody has an issue, it's something that gets talked about,"
"People die of drug overdoses every day that nobody talks about. It's a shame that famous people get all the focus, because it then gets glorified a little bit, like, 'This person was too sensitive for the world,' and, 'A light twice as bright lives half as long,' and all that. Which is all bulls---. It's not true." Chris Cornell; 2016. Chris Cornell talks about his latest reinvention, living in Florida *4th to the last paragraph.
Since Chris's passing, I've read between the lines, saw though the selective wording, the lack of words to no words at all. Being shy has its perks. You develop the ability of strong observation. It does irritate me sometimes how several people except the ambiguity and the abundance of contradictions within the relapse/suicide narrative.
That being said, I do not claim to see everything or anyone for what they really are, nor do I claim to know any artist or musician deeply whom I've never met. Depending on how open they are with their life and their body of work, you get a tiny glimpse of who they are. With all the questionable details thrown to the public since the night of May,17th/17, the only words I've taken to heart were Chris's. His words and his actions leading up to his sudden passing and utterly telling for me, the silence surrounding the strange circumstances leading to his sudden passing.
To my knowledge, there's no acknowledgement of Chris's long-term sobriety or anything positive from the year he had died.
As Chris mentions through interviews and through his last solo tour, I felt Higher Truth was a reflection of his personal experiences from his final years alive. Family, love, conflict and betrayal are themes heavily expressed throughout the record. From seeing Chris in Calgary 3 years ago, I remember him saying, ". . .the song was unfinished." and ". . . my wife really liked it, so I finished it." before sweetly working into "Josephine." A little after he died, I watched several uploaded videos of the Higher Truth tour with Chris briefly explaining many songs before singing them. "Josephine" especially. He even explains the presence of that red telephone! Now I know it belonged to Jeff Buckley!
Cameron Crowe, you know, the guy who wrote and directed "Singles", talks about Higher Truth with Chris. Where I personally listened to their conversation was on Spotify: HIGHER TRUTH: A conversation with Chris Cornell & Cameron Crowe.
Lastly. . .
The box set, "Chris Cornell: An Artist's Legacy", contains Ultra Mega Ok's "All Your Lies" and a song entitled, "Lies." Quite interesting and in my opinion, the collection of songs and its particular arrangement is a weak representation of Chris's diverse body of work; a blatant cash grab. Why a cover photo of him in his mid 20's early 30's? Why is that particular image of Chris splashed around in tribute? Sure, it's a great photo of him but that's not how I remembered him. He wasn't 25 in the Louder Than Love days when he died. A review of the compilation summarizes the box set's oddity: "An Artist’s Legacy doesn’t help us understand why that guy disappeared, but at this point, it’s probably best to accept that we might never know." - Spin
Also, the music video for "When Bad Does Good" I personally didn't enjoy. Selective lyrics thrown in a sequence to pull at my heart strings didn't work.
Where is anybody to say explicitly Chris fell of the wagon? Besides the widow. Where is the medical documentation to prove he fell off the wagon and abused drugs? Where and who is the "colleague" featured in that "email". All in all, what's been presented to the public contained several problems that I couldn't except as the truth, thus deeming me insensitive.
I can't stress enough that just because something is broadcast as truth, has an appeal to popularity but containing information some of us strongly refute, doesn't mean we're all nasty tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists.
That's what hurt the most for over a year. Many not wanting to listen and throwing all who express doubt into the same category of heartless trolls. I do understand why though, as there's usually an abundance of people with unreasonable theories stemming from all sorts of tragedies. Didn't think I'd become a crazy "conspirator".
All we can do is let his truth be realized and in time while we all live to create, write, play music, reach out, and live. Simply live.
Come let’s sit in the sun Feel the world spin around As the birds fly overhead Can’t you hear the waves Can’t you feel the rain As it falls upon your face - Christopher John Cornell; HIGHER TRUTH.