Friday on My Mind: Happy 50th Birthday, Chris Cornell!!!

photo by Jim Bennett

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind. Our weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News.

Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell will be turning 50 years old this Sunday. Let that one sink in for all of you. 50. Chris has been one of the many strong frontmen that have been produced by Seattle. Cornell formed Soundgarden back in 1984 after dropping out of high school. The band released their first EP, Screaming Life, on Sub Pop in 1987 and within the year their full length Ultramega OK came out. The strength of their songs, and following they gained through their live shows, created a big enough buzz that Soundgarden signed to A&M Records in 1989, making them the first grunge band to sign to a major label. They went on to win a Grammy nomination for Best New Metal Performance in 1990. This places them on a list along with Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam to form the big four that broke out during this time. Soundgarden should be considered one of the most important. They are also one of the few to not suffer a significant death within their lineup, although they were very much affected by the losses around them. He was able to cross over to people who loved harder rock and metal. After a long break, they returned in 2010 and continue to make music and tour. In fact, they are kicking off a co-headlining tour this weekend with Nine Inch Nails, who they last toured with back in 1994.

Chris Cornell – Seasons

Cornell’s musical contributions to the soundtrack for Cameron Crowe’s Seattle-centric Singles movie in 1994, marked the first instances of Cornell releasing solo material. It also marked the beginning of his work in the world of movie soundtracks. He has since contributed solo songs to the soundtracks of Mission Impossible II, Great Expectations, and is the first American male singer to write the theme song for the James Bond franchise, with his song, “You Know My Name” for the 2006 version of Casino Royale. Now from 2013, here is backstage footage shot of Cornell and his band in an impromptu performance of “Seasons”.

Soundgarden – Jesus Christ Pose

From 1991’s Badmotorfinger. It was Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, who inspired this song. Cornell, who went to Catholic school as a child and was raised with Catholicism, found Farrell’s onstage demeanor pretentious (though I think that might have been what Perry was going for). The official video for this song received regular television play on both MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball and 120 Minutes, which just demonstrated the range of their music and fan base. I think its one of the best and most basic Seattle videos to be produced and the fact it got as much attention as it did, proves that it was a very different time in media.

Soundgarden – Outshined

Another from from Badmotorfinger, which it is said helped Soundgarden land the spot of openers for Guns n’ Rose during their Use Your Illusion World Tour of 1991. Supposedly Axl Rose had heard this album and was a fan. in a Chris Cornell interview that the base of the song came directly from Andrew Wood. He believed the late Mother Love Bone frontman was a stronger a songwriter and singer. He felt Wood “outshined” him. Chris also said that the line “Looking California, Feeling Minnesota” ended up being one of his all time favorite Soundgarden lines that he had ever written which is pretty funny, considering that the song was originally about how Cornell feeling insecure.

Honorable Mentions:

Soundgarden – Spoonman

Superunknown is now 20 years old. When Cornell was working on the movie Singles, Jeff Ament wrote five song titles on a cassette and Cornell wrote songs around them. Crazy. This also propelled street musician Artis to worldwide recognition.

Soundgarden – Rusty Cage

Badmotorfinger Was nominated for a Best Metal Performance Grammy the year that it was released. Cornell said that when he wrote “Rusty Cage”, he was attempting to create a “hillbilly Black Sabbath crossover”. Rick Rubin later tried to convince Cornell to help arrange a version of the song for the late Johnny Cash. Cornell could not understand Rubin’s vision, nor imagine Cash singing the song and declined. When he later heard the Cash version, he says it taught him a great lesson as far as being more open and it brought his song to an even larger audience. Here Soundgarden’s official video for the song, which features Kim Thayil sporting a flannel. Go Seattle!

Soundgarden – Been Away Too Long

Soundgarden – Live to Rise

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