by Brandon Campanella
Chris Cornell was more than just another musician.
He was arguably one of the greatest rock singers as well as a talented song writer. But in the end, he will go down as one more gifted soul lost too early. His death will be scrutinized and juxtaposed against others from his era: Kurt Cobain, Scott Weiland, Layne Staley, and Andrew Wood.
The Death of Another Rock Star
Like many of you who spent their teenage years in the 90s, I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Chris Cornell yesterday. Not that the news of his death was overly shocking, but the realization that another prominent figure of my most impressionable years had once again ended life too early. For those who loved the 90s, especially the music, you must hold a special place in your heart for Seattle Grunge.
It was a force that broke through the hairband, manufactured pop/rock of the 80s and led the way for a new wave of original artists and voices.
Most of us dream of fame and fortune.
Being under the bright lights with thousands of people hanging on to our every word. Our names flashing in neon signs. But there is a dark side it all that most of us fail to realize. A loneliness that comes from being on the road, going from one show to another. The pressure of living up to the expectations of everyone, from the casual fan to the media personalities who cover you, leads to succumbing to the many temptations already haunting the life of Rock-N-Roll fame.
Chris Cornell’s struggle with addiction and depression were well-documented. However, it should be recognized that Cornell had been clean since checking himself into a rehab treatment center, in 2002, and had been awarded for his work in helping many other artists struggling with addiction. In an interview with Launch, in 2007, Chris commented on his time in rehab saying:
“I really had to come to the conclusion, the sort of humbling conclusion that, guess what, I’m no different than anybody else. I’ve got to sort of ask for help — not something I ever did, ever. And then part two of that is, like, accept it when it comes and, you know, believe what people tell me. And trusting in what I have been told, and then seeing that work.”
Where the Truth really leads us.
His history, however, does not mean we understand why he took his life, as media reports are now suggesting. And, unfortunately, his fans will never have the answer. His death, like those before him will be seen as just another tragic end to gifted artist.
When I got home last night, I did what I think many fans of Chris did. I put on his music and listened. As I was listening to the song, Show Me How to Live, from his days with AudioSlave, the chorus really struck me:
Nail in my head, from my creator
You gave me life, now show me how to live
Here is the thing, our Creator not only gave us life, He showed us how to live it. Time and again, our Heavenly Father has given us examples to follow. The prime example was the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God became flesh, lived a life filled with pain, sorrow, and torment, and showed us how to offer love, kindness, and humility through it all. Christ never calls us to be perfect, but He does call us to love and servanthood. He asks us to place God above all else, and others above ourselves.
So, how should we then live?
In the book of John, chapter 13 we see this play out as Christ calls His disciples to Himself and gives them a lesson they would not soon forget. A lesson on love, humility, and service. Christ lowers Himself and washes the feet of His followers and then tells them, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
Jesus, the Son of God, led others through service. He cared for and spent time those whom society had tossed to the wayside. He fed the hungry and healed the sick. He cared not for wealth, race, or religion but for the heart of each person.
Paul reminds us of this in Philippians when he says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
It’s not easy. It’s perfect.
Even with Christ as our perfect example of how we should live, we are never given a promise of a carefree, happy life. In fact, we are told the opposite. That this life will have troubles, will have pain, and will have sorrows. However, when we live with the perspective Christ gave us, we understand that those moments are fleeting. We know that when we find ourselves in the midst of a great battle, He can see us through to the other side.
In the coming days, many will continue to mourn the death of Chris Cornell while trying to put his life, art, and untimely demise into perspective. His art will live on. Unfortunately, we will see this story play out again, be it through another musician, movie star, or an unknown but weary soul on whom the bright lights have never shined.
Let us not forget in our daily lives that we DO have an example of how to live, and perhaps most importantly, let us not forget to share that example.