Even at the urging of some of my friends, I still haven't seen a single episode of the hit show "American Idol". I'll get to it someday, I promise! But this year I did start to pay more attention to what was going on with the show because a rock singer (David Cook) kept avoiding elimination week after week. Pretty impressive for a show that has mostly rewarded pop singers(and one country star, Carrie Underwood).
David Cook ended up winning the competition. Cool! Many people's favorite performance of his is a recomposed version of "Billie Jean". Yes, the Michael Jackson song.
A few years ago Chris Cornell rearranged the song and turned it into a haunting acoustic piece. He has always been my absolute favorite rock vocalist, just above Dave Grohl and Wes Scantlin. His range, both in notes and in style, has always impressed me. Yet many people in America had no idea who Chris Cornell was until American Idol mentioned his name. Here's David Cook's performance. It's excellent:
So for those of you who still may not really know Chris Cornell, I'll give you a few more details. First, he was lead singer for two rock bands -- Soundgarden and Audioslave. He's been in a couple of movies too, I think. Not important.
If you really want to know Chris Cornell, and to be struck full-force with the strength of his studliness, look no farther than Garth Brooks.
You know Garth Brooks, right? Country superstar? A guy so rich that he reportedly gave his wife over $125 million as a divorce settlement? A guy who has gone to spring training for four different Major League Baseball teams, just for fun? Because when you're that rich and famous, you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want and nobody will argue.
So what present do you get for somebody like that, on Christmas or their birthday? What could a man like that possibly want?
He wanted to be Chris Cornell. In 1999 Garth Brooks apparently became bored with wealth and fame and wanted to do something totally different. He created an alter-ego rock singer called, you guessed, it Chris. Chris Gaines. One of the pictures below is his album cover. The other picture is Chris Cornell.
I'd rank it as the single biggest public mancrush of all time. Bigger than John Madden on Brett Favre. Bigger than Jimmy Kimmel on Ben Affleck.
Yet with all that fame and power, Garth Brooks couldn't get his biggest wish. He couldn't become Chris Cornell. His album flopped horribly and there was even supposed to be a Chris Gaines movie, but fortunately it got scrapped and the apocalypse was thereby delayed.
Moral of the story: reinventing yourself can be fun and all, but only if it moves you closer to who you really are.