Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chris Cornell -- songwriter, rock star... mancrush?

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.

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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.


Bob Barbanes said...

I never liked Soundgarden (too heavy for my taste). But *loved* AudioslaveAgainstTheMachine...for as long as it lasted. While I'm not even that big a fan of Chris Cornell's voice, I thought the music they put out was singularly tremendous - a perfect blending of singer's voice and band. Outstanding!

I had to laugh at the Chris Gaines "Greatest Hits" album though. I guess when you have as much money as Garth you can afford to poke a little fun at yourself and the music industry, even if the joke doesn't work.

~aj~ said...

I was actually a huge Garth Brooks fan back in the day and I never understood why he did the whole Chris Gaines thing. I just thought he was having a mid-life crisis. :)

debby said...

You know, rich people's midlife crises are way different than poor people's midlife crises.

Just an observation.

James W said...

OK I will be probably the only one to admit this. I thought the Chris Gaines album was not that bad. I grant you that his country albums were leaps and bounds better, but if you look at this as a different artist is not horrible.

I am glad that you have finally seen the light about American Idol, maybe next year you will actually watch a live version. I think David Cook is going to do very well for himself.

Don R said...

OK Michael, I think our synchronicity run is over!! I remember the Chris Gaines debacle, but the best I can do as a 62 year old is say I have heard of Soundgarden......LOL!

MamaRose said...

YEA, DAVID COOK--from BLUE SPRINGS/KC, MO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We're SO HAPPY he WON AI this year--I voted for him every week!!!!!!!!
Even the 'last' week when I was in AR!!!!!!!--on my CELL, which has NO 'redial'--what a fan, huh??!!!!

I like Garth & most of his music & had heard of Chris Cornell & heard some of 'his' songs & also remember the 'Chris Gaines' thing!

We ALL will END up MORE contented & EARLIER the SOONER we come around to "LOVING WHO WE ARE" & NOT wishing we were someone else!!!
That's my rich advice for today!!!!

THANKS for the GREAT 'Billy Jean'/David Cook VIDEO!!!!!!!!!!!! I have it on a CD that's in my car--Dad ran me off 3 of his & 2 of David Archuleta's this year!!!!!!
They're BOTH very good singers & hopefully will 'do well' in the Music Business!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'They're' trying to tweak AI, but everyone AGREED that THIS YEAR was the BEST TALENT they've had!!!!!!!
It was VERY entertaining this year.
LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mom

John T. said...


I see youre a music lover. Have you heard Chris's song from the Collateral soundtrack.....awesome.

Also I'm going to recommend a song from Skid row, its called into another and I think its from the cd sub human race. Give it a listen and tell me what you think?

Hal Johnson said...

Debby wrote, "You know, rich people's midlife crises are way different than poor people's midlife crises."

I agree. What the heck was Brooks thinking? I knew folks back then who were rabid Garth fans, and they didn't even buy the CD.

I believe, since I just turned fifty-two, that I'm about to embark upon my mid-life crisis. (Kind of optimistic to think of fifty-two as "mid-life," ey?) I think I'm gonna paint my 1990 Izusu Trooper red.

Redlefty said...


Thanks for the recommendations -- I watched them both on YouTube this morning. Loved the song from Collateral and while I liked the Skid Row song I didn't really think the "hook" was all that great.

As you know, though, the secret to appreciating music is in repetitive listening. So I'll keep at it!

Thanks again.

John T. said...


If you get a chance, google the lyrics to "into another" you might find them interesting. And if you like a song to have a good "hook" listen to "Fake it" by Seether. Im sure youll love it. By the way can I ask for your Name?

Redlefty said...

Name's Michael.

Good call on Seether. Shaun Morgan's another of my favorite voices.

MamaRose said...

To Hal--when you said: "I think I'm gonna paint my 1990 Izusu Trooper red."--thinking you might be getting INTO your Mid-Life Crisis--why not INSTEAD think of BUYING a RED PORSCHE or FERRARI & have a FULL-BLOWN MID-LIFE CRISIS--or at least be able to GO FAST ENOUGH to GET A SPEEDING TICKET--ha!!!!!--just a suggestion!!!!!!!
Love Ya, Mike's Mom

Keith said...

I appreciated the post you wrote. I am amazed at how the story turnecd. I think the point you made is an important one. I appreciate you shariong

Hal Johnson said...

MamaRose, I agree that buying something like a red Ferrari would show more style than my little wimpy midlife crisis act of painting my Izuzu Trooper. However, I believe my better half would be much happier if I just painted the Izuzu. A guy thinks of things like that when he has but a wimpy midlife crisis.

But you had me thinking there . . .