B&V iPod Playlist: Chris Cornell

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I don’t know about you, but here at BourbonAndVinyl we’re still pretty shell-shocked over the news about Chris Cornell’s passing. I don’t know why this one has hit me so hard. Perhaps it’s because I had just seen the man perform with Soundgarden three nights prior. Perhaps it’s because his music has always meant so much to me. Maybe it’s the mysterious way in which he passed.

I read recently that Cornell’s mother-in-law has been railing on social media (where else would someone rail these days) at Eddie Vedder for not making any public comment or reaching out to Chris’ widow. Vedder is launching a solo European tour in Amsterdam that starts tomorrow and apparently won’t be at Cornell’s memorial/funeral today in Los Angeles. We all grieve in our own way, folks. When my friend Larry committed suicide, I did not travel to Dallas to the funeral, which raised some eyebrows. When Hillel Slovak passed away Anthony Kiedis famously didn’t attend his funeral either. Anthony had to get away and tend to his grief in private, down in Mexico. It’s difficult to process things when a friend passes away, especially under strange and shocking circumstances.

Here at the house, we mourn the old fashion way – with bourbon and music. After a couple of stiff Woodford Reserves and some rumination last Saturday, I put together a playlist that attempted to encompass all of Chris Cornell’s career. I wanted to celebrate the man, the singer. It’s long at almost three hours and vast, but so was Chris Cornell’s career. I picked songs that were familiar and (as usual for me) some deep tracks. I also picked a few tracks that just have significant meaning to me. I’ll admit off the bat, Soundgarden’s pre-‘Batmotorfinger’ work is significantly under represented here.

I spent last Sunday on my patio, with the Rock Chick, listening to that wonderful voice, in all it’s forms. From hard rock to acoustic strummers the man could sing anything. The rock and roll world is a much dimmer place now… I would have included Cornell’s wonderful version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” on this list, but you can only stream that on YouTube… These songs are in no particular order, I went where the whiskey took me. I’m going to try and put this out on Spotify if I can ever figure it out… Here then, without further rambling, is my tribute to Mr. Chris Cornell, singer extraordinaire.

  1. Soundgarden, “Superunknown” – The title track from Soundgarden’s penultimate LP.
  2. Soundgarden, “Rusty Cage” – This song is so good Johnny Cash covered it.
  3. Audioslave, “Revelations”
  4. Audioslave, “Original Fire”
  5. Chris Cornell, “You Know My Name” – A great song on Cornell’s wrongly maligned second solo LP.
  6. Temple Of The Dog, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” – Written for Andrew Wood, sadly now a fitting song for our current situation.
  7. Chris Cornell, “Higher Truth” – The title track from Cornell’s awesome final solo album. Check this record out.
  8. Chris Cornell, “The Keeper” – This beautiful acoustic ballad is toward the end of Cornell’s great live LP, “Songbook.” It’s a live LP, but this sounds like it was cut in a studio.
  9. Soundgarden, “Live To Rise” – This is a great lost Soundgarden track that was on a soundtrack of some movie. I just really liked it.
  10. Slash, “Promise (featuring Chris Cornell)” – Cornell’s track from Slash’s great solo LP where he paired himself with a bunch of different singers. I always thought this was one of the strongest tracks on the record.
  11. Audioslave, “Dandelion” – Possibly the Rock Chick’s favorite Audioslave tune. When it popped up on the speakers last Sunday, she asked if I’d put it on the list just for her. “No dear, it’s simply an awesome song, it belongs on this list.”
  12. Audioslave, “I Am The Highway” – This is the good stuff…
  13. Soundgarden, “Waiting For the Sun” – You can find this one on the great “odds & sods” collection, ‘Echo of Miles.’ The first time I saw Soundgarden, at Lollapalooza in Kansas City (back when it was still a traveling festival), opening for Metallica no less, Soundgarden opened with this song. It’s one of my favorite Doors’ tunes and Soundgarden does it in a wonderful heavy fashion.
  14. Temple of the Dog, “Hunger Strike” – Eddie Vedder and Cornell vocally shredding.
  15. Soundgarden, “Burden In My Hand” – This song has been running through my head for over a week now.
  16. Chris Cornell, “Billie Jean” – Cornell was savaged when he covered this tune, but I love it. He completely changes the song in the way he does it. He could grab an acoustic guitar and cover any song by any artist and make it new and unique. This is the perfect example of his abilities.
  17. Temple of the Dog, “Call Me A Dog” – Great ballad toward the end of the first half of the LP.
  18. Chris Cornell, “Dead Wishes” – Another beauty from ‘Higher Truth.’
  19. Chris Cornell, “Imagine” – Beautiful John Lennon cover from ‘Songbook.’
  20. Audioslave, “Doesn’t Remind Me” – This might have been a single, regardless, it’s a great tune.
  21. Soundgarden, “Pretty Noose”
  22. Soundgarden, “Spoonman” – Well, you knew this one was going to be on the list.
  23. Soundgarden, “Outshined” – A tune my good friend Steve turned me on to many, many moons ago.
  24. Audioslave, “Like A Stone” – The breakthrough hit for Audioslave.
  25. Chris Cornell, “Sunshower” – This is the first solo track Cornell ever did, to my knowledge, after Soundgarden broke up. It was another soundtrack tune.
  26. Audioslave, “Cochise” – On a side note, I’m thrilled the Kansas City Chiefs play this song right before the team takes the field on home Sundays.
  27. Soundgarden, “My Wave” – There are so many great songs on ‘Superunknown’ it’s easy to overlook this gem.
  28. Audioslave, “Sound of a Gun” – The riff on here is monstrous, the singing is even more so.
  29. Chris Cornell, “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” – The single from ‘Higher Truth.’
  30. Soundgarden, “Black Hole Sun” – Heavy metal, psychedelia.
  31. Chris Cornell, “Finally Forever” – A beautiful song Cornell wrote for his wife. Why this song isn’t played at every wedding is a mystery I don’t have time to solve. This is another song off of Cornell’s 2nd solo album.
  32. Chris Cornell, “Thank You” – I think Chris Cornell was born to cover Led Zeppelin.
  33. Chris Cornell, “Can’t Change Me” – The single from Cornell’s first proper solo album.
  34. Soundgarden, “Fell On Black Days” – The middle 90s were a tough time for me. This song helped pull me through those very “black days.” I wish it could have done the same for Cornell.
  35. Soundgarden, “Been Away Too Long” – The single from Soundgarden’s reunion album. It’s sad to think they were working on a follow up when Cornell passed.
  36. Audioslave, “Be Yourself” – “it’s all that you can do…”
  37. Chris Cornell, “Seasons” – I just love this beautiful song from the ‘Singles’ soundtrack.

I hope this selection of music helps you get through this horrible loss. It seems to be helping the Rock Chick and I. It’s a dark ride folks, take care of each other out there.

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I Awoke To The Devastating News: Chris Cornell Has Passed Away, RIP

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*Picture taken by the Rock Chick, Sunday, May 14th, 2017

“I heard the news today, oh boy…” –The Beatles

I believe it was Robbie Robertson, guitarist of the Band who famously said, “The road has taken a lot of the great ones…” Sadly, we have one more name to add to that list.

I was awakened this morning by my wife, the Rock Chick, which usually doesn’t happen unless there is a task at hand, like “we forgot to put the recycling out.” I’m easily startled so nobody really likes waking me up before the alarm. She teared up as she gave me the devastating news that singer, guitarist, songwriter, father, husband, Rock Star Chris Cornell had passed away from an apparent suicide over night. I couldn’t believe it… surely there had to be a mistake here? My heart and thoughts go out to his family, his wife and two kids. I can’t imagine what they’re going through.

In a word, I’m devastated. This is made much worse for me as I just saw Chris and the rest of Soundgarden here in Kansas City on Sunday night at Starlight Theater and they were fantastic. When I was young, and I first started going to concerts, I realized that when you see a really great show there is a post-concert bliss or buzz, call it what you want, that can last for days. That Soundgarden post-concert high hadn’t even worn off for me yet. And now Chris is gone.

He prowled the stage like a prize fighter last Sunday. His voice was perfect. He sang all up and down the scale. His vocal was as strong as anything I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard everybody. He played more guitar than I thought he would and actually had some chops. The man was truly a Rock Star, with a capital R and S. He told a wonderful story about his grandparents, who he said lived in KC. His grandfather built Rolls Royce engines here, apparently. He said coming over the river and seeing Kansas City, the few times he visited, always made him feel good. It was a lovely moment in the show. I felt he’d really connected with the adoring audience. My God, he was only three months younger than I am.

I was a big Soundgarden fan. The first thing I connected with was Cornell’s voice. “Fell On Black Days” is a song that means so much to me, I don’t feel I can share it in these pages. I also bought the Temple of the Dog LP, a tribute to Chris’ fallen friend Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. “Say Hello 2 Heaven” from ‘Temple of the Dog’ is another of those songs that take me back to a very specific time in a very moving way. After Soundgarden broke up I bought his first solo LP, ‘Euphoria Morning’ which I didn’t connect with, although “Can’t Change Me” from that album is still in high rotation here at the house (I play it for my wife). I really loved his work with Audioslave. I have all three of those great albums. When he returned to his solo career I was back on the bandwagon when he released the live acoustic ‘Songbook’ album and the fantastic acoustic based studio LP, ‘Higher Truth,’ reviewed on B&V. I can truly say I was a fan of most, if not all, of this guy’s work. ‘Higher Truth’ will be playing in my house all day.

I was happy a couple of years ago when Chris got back together with his mates in Soundgarden and they put out ‘King Animal,’ and was thrilled to see them Sunday night. I wanted to see him when he got back together with Temple of The Dog for a brief tour and I pray someone taped those shows. He even played with Audioslave at a benefit a couple of months ago… It seems he’d reunited and made peace with everybody. That is some comfort, I guess.

My friend, drummer Blake, said via text, “Only Eddie Vedder is left from the big 4 Grunge bands of the 90s…” It hadn’t occurred to me we’ve lost Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Layne Staley (AIC), and now Chris Cornell. Soundgarden was purportedly working on a new album that I think we all were looking forward to…

This is just a fucking tragedy. I am distraught. If you’re out there, and you’re having a hard time, reach out to somebody. Don’t let it get to this point.

I had a dear friend commit suicide back in the early 90s. It left a mark on me that remains to this day. I can’t help but feel this particular artist, going out in this particular way is going to leave a similar mark on a lot of people.

It’s a dark ride folks, take care of each other. RIP Chris Cornell, Rock Star.

“My Name Is Larry”: Requiem for a Suicide, 11/8/93, 22 Years Ago Today

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“My name is Larry, my name is Larry…”¬†Wild Man Fischer, “My Name is Larry”

It’s early November and all the vodka has been put away for months. We’re deep into fall, or as I like to call it, the Bourbon Season. I always have this odd feeling that I’ve forgotten something as the calendar turns to November. I have two friends who have birthdays in early November but I generally remember those. It always takes me a while but eventually the memories come back. It’s like the Pink Floyd song, “The Gunner’sDream” and the line, “floating down, through the clouds, memories come rushing up to meet me now…” I can’t describe the dream-like feeling of remembering any better than those lyrics. It’s funny how music brings things back to me.

On November 8th, 1993, a Monday night, the Kansas City Chiefs, the team I’ve been cursed to follow since I was ten (I blame my father) played the Brett Favre-led Packers. It was a crisp fall evening but the Chiefs played well and the Packers were kind enough to turn the ball over 3 times that night and I returned home to my humble apartment after a big win. It was late, after midnight (Monday Night Football games are always a bear getting home through the traffic) and I had a message on my answering machine. It was from Lynnette, my friend Matthew’s wife. I will never forget the words I heard that night…”Ken, if you get a chance tomorrow you might want to call Matthew, he’s pretty upset. Larry killed himself…”

Suicide. It’s a funny sensation when you hear those words. No one ever told me if it was that Monday night, or the previous night, Sunday that Larry had killed himself. Sundays can really be hard when you’re alone, that’s what I remember thinking. Larry was Matthew’s uncle, his father Martin’s brother, but he was an “oops” baby and was closer in age to Matthew and I than he was to Martin. We’d been friends for a decade. I remember sitting down at my kitchen table, with a strong drink and shedding a tear or two. But this isn’t supposed to be a sad story, so I won’t dwell on that night, 22 years ago today. Today, I celebrate my friend Larry.

As a kid, to go to sleep I always turned the radio on. It had a “sleep” feature which would allow it to play for 45 minutes and then shut itself off. The hope for me was that I could listen to rock and roll music until I dosed off (sleep has always been difficult for me) and the radio would always turn itself off vs wake me back up. It was a shaky plan but it usually worked. On Sunday night, the rock station I listened to, and there weren’t many choices, played the Dr Demento Show. Dr Demento played comedy/novelty records for three or four hours. It was goofy shit, but I needed something to help me get to sleep. Especially on those awful Sunday nights, where I’d lay awake dreading going to school on Monday. One of the funniest songs I ever heard on Dr Demento was Wild Man Fischer’s “My Name is Larry.” Wild Man is the worst singer, other than perhaps me, to ever record his voice. In the song, after proclaiming his name is Larry over and over, he goes through the litany of his family members and their tepid reactions to him. When he gets to his Grandpa, the Grandpa says, “Larry when you want to come over you tell your mom and we’ll arrange something.” The main message of the song was that “Larry” was weird. I didn’t know anybody named Larry but my high school buddy Matthew did, his uncle in Iowa was named Larry and so he recorded “My Name is Larry” on cassette and kept it.

A few years later, Matthew and my freshman year in college, we went off to KSU. At the mid-term, Christmas break I made the colossal mistake of transferring to rival school KU, for the worst reason anyone can choose to make a life change: a chick. That worked out about as well as everyone predicted and by early April the lass did me the favor of breaking up with me. I was the devastated, young romantic. Matthew, who was still at KSU, jumped in his car and picked me up. We were going up to Iowa to visit his uncle, whose name was Larry. Larry had been in the Navy or the Merchant Marine, I forget which, and was in his late 20s and was going to ISU in Ames on the GI Bill. Having just gone through a break up, the beer was flowing for me the entire drive up to Ames. Matthew produced the cassette of “My Name Is Larry” and we laughed the entire way up. I can remember closing my eyes, later on the drive, while Triumph played “Magic Power” and hoping the lyrics were true: “I’m young now, I’m wild and I’m free.” I was putting my freshman year behind me. By the time we got to Iowa we were a wreck. I was underage so Larry let me use his military ID, we looked nothing alike, he had sandy blonde hair and was a good looking dude. I was a head taller than he was. We hit the bar with a gusto rarely seen in Iowa. Matthew and I kept singing, “My Name is Larry” at the top of our lungs. We were a complete liability that night and yet, by the end, Larry and I had become friends, well as close to friends as Larry was capable. He had also managed to produce, out of thin air, a coed with perfect posture and huge breasts. Larry was the man! It was to be the first of many trips up to Iowa to party with Larry, who was one of the coolest guys I knew.

¬†After college I saw Larry sporadically. He held a number of jobs. He lived in Kansas City for a while, during my exile time in Arkansas so I lost track of him. Then he moved to Dallas and got married. When Matthew got married I flew down to Dallas for the ceremony. I was the best-man. At the rehearsal dinner, my old friend Larry sat across the table from me with his wife, Hope, and we laughed the entire night. He told me, after my toast, I was the funniest person he knew. (He probably needed to get out more). He wanted to be my road manager and take me out on the comedy circuit. I was selling medical supplies at the time and thought that was a more sound career choice. We had fun reconnecting at the wedding but I could tell there was an undercurrent of sadness about my old friend. Hope seemed overly affectionate that night and I didn’t think anything of it.

I had always wondered why I had had to cab it in from the airport when I flew in for the wedding. I had assumed as “best man” somebody would send a car. “I’m kind of a big deal around here,” folks, that kinda deal. I found out years later, Matthew’s family and Hope had apparently been having an intervention for Larry the day I’d arrived. Nobody told me. Larry had gone to a bar about a year earlier to meet a friend who didn’t show, and met a lady instead. It was always the ladies for Larry, they were his Achilles Heel, even after his marriage it seems. Chicks dug Larry. This girl liked cocaine and she turned Larry on in a bathroom stall, ah the early 90s, with sex afterwards. I live by one rule, stay away from white powders people, stick with murky, brown, distilled fluids. There are no upsides in powders and pills, people. Apparently my friend Larry had a prodigious appetite. He was burning through Hope and his assets faster than she could keep up.

The “Intervention” held for a while, but like most folks I hang around with, the “dark side” is strong. Summer of ’93 found Hope and Larry in Kansas City for a weekend visit. I met them in Waldo at a bar named Kennedy’s. They were both in high spirits. Back then, Kennedy’s was located in the lobby of an old theater, which has since burned down, with cramped, small booths. We were all crammed into one of the booths in the front of the bar. I was trying to theorize why Matthew’s wife seemed to hate me. Larry was philosophical as usual. “Ken, you’re one of the most obnoxious people in the world, and she’s from the south. Chicks down there don’t dig your loud, vulgar sense of humor. You’r like olives, an acquired taste.” Gee, thanks Larry. We drank until closing time and I cabbed it back to my apartment. I remember hugging Larry and Hope goodbye. It was our typical laugh-filled evening. It was to be the last time I ever saw Larry.

By that November he had terminated his marriage to Hope in order to save her financially, and perhaps emotionally. He’d burned up all their money. He was staying temporarily at a cheap hotel. Then, that night, in early November 1993, early fall, he wandered into the field next to the hotel with a gun and as Neil Young once sang, he “touched the night.”

That night at Kennedy’s is what always sticks out in my memory. Larry smiling and laughing. I always tried extra hard to make Larry laugh because I felt the well of sorrow in him. I always wonder if there was something I could of said or done, anything to have helped him. People describe suicide as “selfish”, but I’m not sure that’s an accurate description. Larry got, as U2 once sang, “caught in a moment” and “couldn’t get out of it”. I wish I’d been bold enough to ask, “Are you OK?” or “Is there something wrong” but I never did. I’m always quick to do so now with my friends, a lesson Larry taught me. It saddens me to think of all the things Larry has missed in the last 22 years. But for me, I like to think about that first trip to Iowa. I like to put on Wild Man Fischer and sing along…”My name is Larry”…. Perhaps in a lot of ways I see myself when I was young in Larry. I pushed through the darkness and I wish I could have helped my friend do the same.

I miss you buddy. Cheers!