Sad things and sad people are more pleasant, more real, because they’re more relatable; Chris Cornell was no exception. The first song I ever learned to play on guitar was “I Am The Highway,” and to this day it’s really the only song I can sing and play simultaneously. Later, “Heavens Dead” was the first song I ever cried to. I was lonely and trying not to drink and hadn’t been sleeping well for some time and a doc at the VA fucked around and gave me some Trazodone. Half a pill later I was glued to my bed, sweat burning my eyes while all the metal in my apartment glowed red and smoke sifted in beneath my bedroom door because I thought I left the burners and oven on, but then the oven blew up, my dog and kids along with it and my ears rang but I couldn’t get up to do anything about it so I just laid there cold and wet with sweat, afraid to stand even when my limbs started working again.
I took a shower and tucked the Trazodone away in a cabinet, then I stretched out on the floor listening to Chris Cornell and the only reason I noticed I was crying was because I felt so much better. I used Audioslave’s music, namely the octave range and lyrics of Chris Cornell’s voice to make me feel less lonely, like I was a human worth being, worth thinking things that not every normal person I knew agreed with. Essentially, I got over my frustrations with the blissful ignorance of my neighbors by thinking, now this fucking guy, he gets it; he sounds like I feel. And I know I’m not the only one; that’s what I love about art.
All day and night as my brain deconstructs the nuance of thousands of conversations, situations, stories, feelings, expressions, theories and material items–both good and bad, though without my permission either way–art, primarily music, is the only means by which I can stop deconstructing what was, is or could be, and actually breathe a little. Listening to “Heavens Dead” probably helped me breathe a lot.
Before I got rid of that Trazodone for good, I’d gotten really frustrated with the lack of sleep and angry about a bunch of other activities of daily human: failed relationships, but mostly the inevitable growing apart from all of my friends, who were the closest thing I’d ever known to family. I think it was more sad because then, and even now, it still feels like I’m the only one noticing the disconnects in what we say or care about and how we think or feel (if and when a male friend is even able to talk about feelings beyond a superficial level). We’ve grown in opposite directions, and some not at all. Anyways, upon realizing this I tried the Trazodone again, maybe a handful of them and passed out, but I woke up in the middle of the night, exhausted and vomited next to the dog. Then I trashed the Trazodone out and put on Out of Exile.
In no way am I prescribing Chris Cornell’s voice as a cure for depression; it doesn’t always help and has varying layers of effectiveness. But it is at times, a relief to know that there are other options.