This is an anecdote I did not share in my Classic Rock piece I just wrote on Soundgarden. I felt it was a little too off-target, too personal.
I remember sitting down to watch the new Bond movie Casino Royale – always an event in our household, even with Daniel Craig’s rippling man pout. The theme song started up. Dynamic, hard and metallic in the music, classic (Shirley) Bassey through and through. And then the voice came in… “Jesus fuck!!” I exclaimed. “It’s Chris Cornell!” Who, my wife wanted to know. “Chris Cor… you know I once duetted with him on stage in Holland on ‘Some Enchanted Evening’!” (This, in itself, was an event for me; most of my Seattle friends would get me up on stage by myself.) “I’ve duetted with someone who’s done a Bond theme!” Charlotte was refreshingly unimpressed, although happy enough I was so excited. She has never been a fan of metal (or grunge, which she understandably confuses with metal). Me neither… except for Soundgarden, which was where I began to understand the appeal of the big dumb rock (not that Soundgarden were ever dumb; their songs were PhD level smart), and latch onto ways of expression, ways of hearing that had previously been hidden to me. It was through Soundgarden I came to Metallica and Black Sabbath and even a little Cream and Led Zep, and so forth. Through Soundgarden and Motörhead and UFO, if I am brutally honest… but why let the truth spoil the telling of a perfectly reasonable anecdote?
To me then, as now, performing a Bond theme is a pinnacle in success – in terms of both commercial and critical acceptance. You don’t get a higher accolade in mainstream terms, or one that means as much. I was so fucking proud of my former stage buddy when I heard that Bond theme start up that evening. I have always been so proud to have known Chris Cornell. I still am. He was smart and witty and self-deprecating, didn’t seem to mind hanging out with drunken music critics from the UK. He had a good ‘tude. Seriously good-looking, too. He was a star. He totally fucking rocked.
Rest in peace mate. Rest in peace.