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Reflecting on a year without Chris Cornell: While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to contribute to my normal Tuesday slot, but here I am, back at it. And ready and eager to talk about sports, right?

Nah. I have nothing to say about the Cleveland Cavaliers today. Nothing but the one thing. The Cavaliers were terrible in Game 1, almost impossible to watch. My feelings about the series haven’t changed, though. The Cavs have LeBron, the Celtics don’t. Until the Cavs lose a home game in this series, I think they’re going to win.

Instead, I wanted to talk about Chris Cornell again. Did you catch that “Nothing To Say” reference above?

Man, just listen to the power of those vocals when Cornell comes roaring into that first verse. I don’t think any other singer in my generation could deliver that performance. I miss that. A lot.

As of Friday, it will have been one year since we lost Chris Cornell. A year ago at this time, the Cavaliers were playing the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the midst of the series, the news of Cornell’s suicide hit me pretty hard, and I wrote a bit about it at that time. I’m proud of that piece because it was cathartic to write about how I was feeling at that moment, but I hated so much that I had to write. I still do.

As I said back then, my favorite song of all time is Cornell’s “Seasons” from the Singles Soundtrack. I used to listen to it weekly. Whenever I was feeling a certain way or in a certain mood, I would listen to that song and it meant something real and important to me. I wrote a year ago that I had been listening to Cornell’s music almost exclusively.

The thing is, since writing that piece, I probably only listened to his music a very small handful of times. I’ve listened to “Seasons” maybe twice since then. I can’t really say why, either. It doesn’t make me too sad to listen, it doesn’t make me wish he was still alive any more than I already do. It’s probably more that every time I listen, I think about suicide and how senseless it is and how frustrating it is that we can’t do more to help people who are hurting.

I know depression and suicide are not new things to us. And it’s encouraging that more people are speaking out and raising awareness, making it easier for others to seek help. But today’s society also has more access to information than ever before, and that’s one large double-sided coin. Because while we can raise awareness, we also process information through the internet and social media like drinking from a firehose.

I think in the year since Cornell’s death, that might be the thing I’ve realized the most. It’s been encouraging seeing athletes close to home like Kevin Love and Channing Frye speak out about their own struggles. We find more and more that none of us are alone. No matter how you are feeling, there is someone out there expressing those same feelings. The internet and social media ties us all together and brings us closer. It also feeds into the things that cause insecurity and depression in the first place. If someone has a certain trigger, that trigger is never more than a click away from them.

None of this is to say the internet and social media are inherently bad. Far from it. It’s just to say that despite the growing awareness, it still seems like depression and mental health issues are everywhere in society. It’s in the very air we breathe. Every time there’s another senseless mass killing in America we talk about it for a minute, and then we go back to pretending it’s not there even though we see it and feel it everywhere.

It goes deeper than just mental health, of course. Our society is a swirling pool of depression, racism, violence, anger, and confusion. The number one song in America this week is Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”, aided no doubt by the brilliant video that accompanies the song.

In the video, Donald Glover illustrates the depths to which we bury these thoughts and feelings. We hide behind memes and celebrity culture. Hell, I even saw people making memes out of the “This Is America” video. Talk about illustrating the point.

Circling back to Cornell and the year we’ve spent without him, though, this is why I haven’t listened to his music much. All of these things come to the surface when I think about his death. I think back to a comment Craig Lyndall left to my Cornell piece in which he said, “It’s like a bad horror movie where even the “survivor” isn’t safe until after the final credits have rolled and we’re in our cars ready to drive home. If Chris Cornell wasn’t safe at this point in time, who is? That’s why it’s so devastating and confusing. I think. I don’t know.” That sentiment still resonates with me today.

As per usual, I don’t really have much of a point here or any answers at all. I just know that we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of Cornell’s death and I wanted to use this time to reflect on that year. For his friends and family’s sake, I wish he was still alive. I wish there was still a chance for more music. I still wish he could have found peace.

I think it’s time for me start listening to more of his music again, though. And time for me to start trying to define a new context for it. Yeah, there’s a lot of bad stuff out there, and just waving it all away with your hand isn’t really productive. But there’s so much positivity in the world to focus on as well. Furthermore, seeing as how this is a sports site, after all, we also have things like sports to serve as more than just a distraction, but as a bond to help tie us all together.

So, in that spirit, we look forward to Game 2 of the ECF tonight. Go Cavs!