“Times are gone for honest men.”
The man who wrote and sung that lyric has died.
Chris Cornell is probably most famous for fronting the Seattle grunge band Soundgarden. He also had success as a solo artist and leading Audioslave (with the remaining members of Rage Against the Machine). Cornell had incredible vocal range and one of the most recognizable yowls in rock music.
The song that made him and Soundgarden famous was “Black Hole Sun.” It’s a trippy, moody 5+ minutes. A song you can listen to over and over.
Personally, it’s a touchstone song.
In the summer of 1994, I shared an apartment with my cousin in Richmond, KY. He and I worked different shifts and rarely saw one another. He also had a job that required travel, so I was often home alone.
One Friday morning, I awoke very ill. Vomiting. Terrible pain in my side. Any movement I made caused me to dry heave. But remaining still was agony. Few people had cellphones in 1994, including me. And my cousin and I had thought we would save money by foregoing a landline.
Being 20 years old, I thought I could tough out whatever illness had befallen me (kidney stones, as I discovered later). I laid on the floor in front of my bed, in the dark, crying in agony for 12 hours. The only thing keeping me company was my little 13 inch television playing MTV. “Black Hole Sun” was in heavy rotation. It’s the only song I remember during my suffering.
At one point, I decided I must be dying, and therefore, had to summon the strength to find a phone. I recall walking to a nearby gas station to use the payphone to call my parents (who lived 2 hours away). Thinking back, I’m shocked nobody called the police. I probably looked like a strung out druggie, rung out, puking every minute or two.
For reasons I don’t remember, it took my folks 6 hours to come get me. They took me to the UK hospital emergency room where I was given two ibuprofen and told to tough it out because I didn’t have insurance. I eventually started showing a fever after another 12 hours where I was in so much pain I was delusional and my parents took me to a different hospital.
I primarily remember three things from those hellish 24 hours. 1) “Black Hole Sun.” 2) Apologizing to my brother for being a shitty big bro. 3) Dropping my pants and pleading with the nurse to give me a shot for the pain (ha!).
RIP Chris Cornell. Your song got me through some tough times, man.