We clamor for and adore artists who pour out their heart and soul and expose their vulnerabilities for us, to show us it’s alright to be weak, broken, terrible. And how terrible it is to be the artist who commits that to record, and then has to cut open old wounds night after night on tour to support the record!
Listening to Chris Cornell’s “Euphoria Morning”, which is perhaps his first record made with few nonsense lyrics (his work with Soundgarden was laden with lyrics made of words and phrases that sounded great but meant nothing). Being a solo project, it meant he was free to plug us in and tell us how he really feels, without the burden of speaking for his former bandmates. When he pens “When I’m Down”, we know he’s down; it’s his record.
And he has to repeat those songs ad infinitum for as long as he tours. Cutting open those wounds again and again, until he finally opens his body and ends his own life.
What a terrible fate.
Grunge was a miraculous flame that burned bright and kept us warm, because we all knew, we all felt, that the artists who wrote those great songs and performed them for us across this busted world of ours really, really meant what they said, and it killed them. The flame that burned twice as bright lasted half as long.
Their error was in being truthful.
Is it better to speak truths and die for them before your time, or is it better to add a wrinkle of disconnection, say things we’ll connect to anyway, believing they are speaking as one of us, and survive to speak another day? What is integrity worth?
I wish I had that answer.