As a long time fan of Chris Cornell (lead singer and songwriter for Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog), I was devastated to hear of his sudden unexpected passing this last Wednesday. I'm normally not the kind of person who takes this kind of news hard, but damn...I could not snap out of my funk.
Then I looked at my iPhone and realized there were 30+ years of his songs all over my running playlists. Songs to get my rage on, songs for contemplation, songs that reminded me of growing up in Oregon as the grunge scene formed. His music is the backdrop of my life, from raging teen slam dancing in the front rows of their concerts, to being a musician who could appreciate his craftsmenship as we picked apart their songs. I am super grateful for his music and his inspiration.
So with that, I give you the Top 10 Chris Cornell songs on my running playlists. These are in order of "most often played", and have more to do with the beat/pace than are these his biggest hits. But I hope you'll find some gems in here to add to your playlists.
- Superunknown (Soundgarden - Superunknown). This is a good chunky metal song, and one of the best examples of Cornell's soaring voice. Lyrics are ultrarunner worthy as well - "If this doesn't make you feel, it doesn't mean you've died...if this isn't making sense, it doesn't make it lies...alive in the superunknown".
- Burden In My Hand (Soundgarden - Down On The Upside). This is one of his more popular songs, and it grabs you right away with some country instrumentation and Cornell singing "Follow me into the desert, as thirsty as you are...". Definitely follow him out into the sunshine!
- Seasons (Singles Soundtrack) - One of Cornell's outstanding acoustic songs, this is a great one for your long runs. He slowly takes you into the dark side, then with one note changing from minor to major, pulls you right out.
- Pushin' Forward Back (Temple of the Dog) - Many don't realize that it was Chris Cornell that formed Temple of the Dog as a tribute to his former roommate, and the artists he rounded up included a little-known singer named Eddie Vedder (and the musicians that would become Pearl Jam). This song has a killer groove, and is very punk...certainly more uptempo than Hunger Strike, which is the song most people know from this band.
- Outshined (Soundgarden - Badmoterfinger) - You'll recall this breakout song for Soundgarden the moment Cornell says "I'm looking California and feeling Minnesota", but for running, nothing beats the heavy bass of the chorus when he asks you to "show me the power, child".
- Rhinosaur (Soundgarden - Down On The Upside) - This 12-count beat will get you rolling along the trail, particularly when he describes you as "only happy when you hurt, only healthy in the dirt". Word.
- Shadow of the Sun (Audioslave) - When Cornell joined the musicians from Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave, a few of their songs had a great balance of his melancholy with the heavy thump of Rage. This is a good one, and includes the lyrics "every drop of flame/lights a candle in/memory of the one/who lives inside my skin", which is quite honestly how I think of him right now. The song Doesn't Remind Me of Anything is also a good selection.
- Pillow Of Your Bones (Chris Cornell - Euphoria Morning) - Another song with a catchy groove, while Cornell's iconic voice boundlessly slides into the stratosphere. I still have no idea what he means by pillow of your bones, but often my bones feel they could use a pillow when I'm running. The song You Can't Change Me is also a good one from this solo album, particularly if you've ever tried to resist falling in love with a woman who can change the world.
- A Thousand Days Before (Soundgarden - King Animal) - This whole album is solid, but the groove on this song is particularly good for running. When there's no one else, I'll stand beside myself...love it.
- Jesus Christ Pose (Soundgarden - Badmoterfinger) - When you need to get your rage on, this song will get you there with its relentless pace and audio attack worthy of its philosophical position. If you need something more mellow, try Searching With My Good Eye Closed.
...and thanks again, Chris. You will be missed!