Denial breeds conspiracies

Dana Keener
Staff Writer

By now, I am certain that readers of my columns are aware of my affinity for music. To be more precise; the era of grunge. This is the era that literally abolished insipid "hair metal" bands seemingly overnight.

My first exposure to the band Soundgarden was in the late 1980s. A carload of friends and I made the trek to the Pyramid in Memphis. The headlining act was Guns and Roses. None of us in my 1980 Toyota Celica knew much about the opening band. But one of the guys with us said that he heard we were going to be "blown away" by them.

I do realize how melodramatic this next statement is going to be, but it is true. Soundgarden changed my life. It was not just because of the lead singer held an aura of arrogance and cockiness; the ultimate bad boy with Adonis pecs, long curly dark hair, and those bright green eyes. It was because their music was about more than girls and parties. They had something to say and I was listening. 25 years later, and I have not stopped.

The death of frontman Chris Cornell has left me literally grieving. I feel pathetic about this fact. I am literally actively grieving over a man that I have never met, and did not know that I existed (except for that time he actually commented on my comment on his Facebook post- save it; do not tell me he had people doing that for him). However, his music throughout all of its inclinations (Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, solo career, and Audioslave), has always been a part of my life. Cornell has basically been the singer in my life's personal soundtrack. He was there in some dark times, he was there in some exciting and happy times. Shoot, I still have the Soungarden release, Badmotorfinger, and Temple of the Dog (a sort of supergroup with members that would later form Pearl Jam) in my car's CD changer. Their music and sound are timeless. I would put them up against any of the contemporary rock bands of today.

Perhaps I am experiencing the stages of grief because I am currently in denial. I am almost certain that he did not die by his own hand. I mean it is possible to murder and construct the scene to seem like a suicide. Right? I have seen too many Criminal Minds episodes to discount that theory. But I also realize that the man did have some strong and awful demons he was fighting. Even though, for today anyway, I cannot accept that that man, the one who has written many of the most lyrically solid and beautiful songs, died by hanging himself. I guess this is how conspiracies are born? Maybe out of denial and refusal of acceptance?

It is my strongest hope that the Detroit Police Department conducts a thorough investigation. The last thing Cornell's family needs is speculation brought forth from shoddy investigative work. I am looking at you Seattle Police Department. Kurt Cobain's death investigation is still serving as an example of how NOT to conduct an investigation of this kind.

In the Temple of the Dog song, Say Hello to Heaven, Cornell sings: "...some poor stargazer/ she got no tears in her eyes/ some fool like a whisper/ says love heals all wounds with time/ now it seems like too much love is never enough/ ...taken the wrong road/ 'cause this one has ended abrupt."
Those words, to me, are especially touching today. Yes it will take time to heal the shock and dismay of a life that has ended as abrupt as Cornell's.