Falling On Black Days

As you may have already heard, legendary rocker Chris Cornell is gone. People are grieving everywhere as he was a staple of the 90s rock scene and continued to be an icon as a singer and musician until the day he died. It is noted by medical examiners that he hung himself after his May 17, 2017 show in Detroit, MI for reasons no one currently knows to be exact, other than the fact that he suffered depression throughout most of his life. As many musicians carry a heavy burden of harvesting a broad spectrum of emotions guiding their behavior, it is no surprise why many have turned to alcohol and drugs at some point. Chris Cornell began using drugs at 13 and was kicked out of high school at 15 http://people.com/music/chris-cornell-life-influential-seattle-scene/. Even when he seemed to have replaced drug use with music making, his depression was laden with fear, which brings all sorts of unwanted thoughts to a person’s mind, especially someone with extreme creativity.

Musicians and Emotions

Some use suppressant and stimulants to have fun, others to bury their pain. It isn’t always pain from abuse, although turning to music as a release from abuse is common. But there is often a  debilitating feeling, when in the process of bearing our soul unto others, that WE ARE NEVER GOOD ENOUGH. There are many psychological articles on this phenomenon, but here’s a quick read on depression in musicians, and why they experience more of it https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2010/dec/17/musicians-depression. Even when people look up to us, idolize us, are fanatical about who we are and what we have to offer, it may not matter. To the person that bears this burden, that beautiful admiration and praise is inconsequential. To an artist, who needs to express their innermost darkness and insecurities, it is almost ironic that what is so painful is also what is needing to be exposed. But that is the nature of the artist and the dichotomous byproduct of being this way. Chris Cornell may or may not have had these exact insecurities, but has been quoted in various articles as feeling a profound depression that was usually somehow channeled through his music. He had also seen the death of friends Andrew Wood and fellow musicians Kurt Cobain, which most likely took a toll on his changing role as an artist and public figure.

Music, The Remedy Drug

So how do we use our music to heal our wounds, to be a beacon of hope, and to free us from the desperation we once felt before we learned to use music as a release? We must use the strength of our minds and hearts to hold dear all the gifts we have been given to be artists, and the gift we give to others through our music, whether we feel worthy of its praise or not. How do we avoid living out some morbid story that we want our music to represent as a metaphor for our actual pain? At what point are we able to channel these insecurities, fears, past experiences, and negative thought processes without harming ourselves? Maybe Chris Cornell felt he needed to end it to close the book he felt he wrote throughout his music, but his passion and talent that inspired so many people now resonate with sadness and grief. We mustn’t give up, even at the depths of our emotional abyss. If music does anything for the soul, we should give it the chance to continuously circumvent our pain as we learn more about who we are, and keep growing as musicians and humans.

Goodbye Chris Cornell. You are already deeply missed.