Everywhere I look, I think I see Chris walking toward me: tall, a long mane of lion curls, a slight smile under either a beard or a pencil thin mustache.
Every time I look at my phone and it says Christopher and I think it’s all been a dream, something imagined, that you create subconsciously so that it can never be realized.
Every time I think of Chris, it’s like he’s in front of me, telling me what he’s been doing: his kids, Vicky, a fair they went to, or how much fun he had when we all went karting, a song he’s mining the magic out of.
This is the thing that never goes away, the impact someone has on you. It will ebb and flow with time in its intensity, but it will always be there until someone is doing it about you.
An impact. That’s what we all hope to have: a great memory, a witticism, a song, how they deal with their children, moments, when in repose, they call you to just say “Hey, man, I miss you”.
Chris Cornell touched on happy, his kind of grace. We all have our own happy. He’d ridden his various treacherous roads on the psychic motorcycle rebelling, reacting, rebounding, etc. And now, older, familied, this was a time of just working on himself, said family, a deeper music and how to pull for more love out it all. His was an uphill climbing trajectory. There’s the professional, yeah, that too, but people don’t die professionally, they only die personally. And personally, was an uphill climb — a winded climb, just by nature of his sensitivity — but uphill nonetheless.
Chris Cornell the human being.
Chris Cornell who loved his family: Vicky, Lilli, Toni and Christopher.
Chris Cornell who was my friend: simply, my friend.
I met Chris at the Hollywood Café. I was drunk, and afterward, backstage, sat on his lap and told him how great I thought he was. He smiled, I’m sure a little irritated, but let me pontificate until I felt he had really heard how deeply he had affected me. I had a tendency to be fairly aggressive toward the things that moved me, and Chris, from the moment I heard him live (so intimate, as only he could be), grabbed each of my cells by the throat and never let go.
Chris Cornell was my friend: simply. It came from the music sure, the way his voice reached out like ET’s finger, but it was the lap dance I gave him that set it all in motion.
Over the next 7 years, Chris and I became close. I got him: the isolation, the love and tension to create, the elation of finding the love of your life and manifesting a happier life with that love, and he got me. Our lives paralleled and with that a loose friendship came true intimacy and reveal.
When you are well known for your chosen profession you have a tendency to protect yourself. You wall off and deny that people are talking about you. You know how to deflect conversations. You start to question if you know anymore what a general openness looks like.
Then, if you are diligent, if you care about your personal legacy, you fight for that intimacy.
When I told Chris that Kathryn and I were getting married he sent me a song that he had written for Vicky after they first got together, a song that he was going to sing at our wedding. His quote:
“I started writing this song years ago right after I met Vicky. I sang an early version to her over the phone before we were engaged but I felt for years that I hadn’t distilled all of the magic I felt with her into song form. About a month ago I finished it. This version played into a hundred dollar mic seems to be the only way to capture the hugeness of how I feel about her.
I was thinking recently that you might relate to it.
Big hugs to you both!
Kathryn and I listened to the song just as we had listened to another of Chris’s songs early in our relationship, both of us with tears.
Once in a while someone comes along in your life who just oozes personal. You share inspirations, values, desires, wishes, hopes, like a teenage journal, hoping it will one day answer back to you.
My buddy Chris answered back.
Chris Cornell, the human being.
“Hey, man. I’m just calling to say I miss you.”
The other day I started pulling up all the emails, all the voicemails, and just gazing into the memories of different conversations, moments, milestones. My wife and I listened to him sing “Happy Birthday” on my voicemail. “Happy Birthday dear yoooouuuuu. Happy Birthday to you. I love you, man”…click.
You live a life, and to be grateful for that life lived is having lived. Chris Cornell was a human being and like all human beings, we have an expiration date; all different than one another: May 18th, 2017 was his.
But Chris will always be in my heart. I will hold him not high, not angrily, but face to face, like we were, supporting each other through this wacky, circus tent of a life.
There was a moment he wrote to me years ago, and it’s a moment I’d like to share with you. It speaks beautifully for itself as to who he was: a sensitive, protective warrior of a father. What the human aspect of everything meant to him. How he just wanted all of us to find common ground and appreciate this gift that we have for just the little while we’ve been given it.
“JB — Thought of you again today. We live above Benedict Canyon and my daughter’s Parrot flew out of a window and down over the canyon. Hoping he wouldn’t die, I dressed up like Pitt in Seven Years in Tibet and headed down into the wilds of the canyon. As I descended, I saw a female bluebird in a distant tree. Thought it was mine. I chased it around until I saw she was nesting and wasn’t in fact green.
I spent the next 2 hours in the screaming sun alternately crashing thru brush and sitting still so I’d be able to vibe out his spot. Decided it was too big a canyon and I would never find him. I cut back up behind my house and sat in the shade near where the bush whacking started.
I sat there for a half hour feeling like I betrayed a little friend who relied on me for his safety.
I waited another few minutes and gave up. I paused for one second before going inside and tried one last time to chirp for him. I waited and listened, and suddenly I heard a faint chirp back down in the brush. There he was! Wanting very much to be rescued. Little green birds that talk are the needles in the haystacks formed of needles on top of a bed of a valley of needles.
But they sometimes chirp.”
Brother, you are near, you are dear, and I’ll see you when it’s time. But for now, my heart billows and embraces everything that you were, that you are, that you forever will be. I hear you “in the haystack formed of needles/ on top of a bed of a valley of needles/ but I hear you/ and know that you are there”. Yes, I know that you are there. I’ll miss you, but I know that you are there.