Peace, The Strawbs, and the Tragic Passing of Chris Cornell

Tuscaloosa Show, May 8, 2017

I’ve never really listened to Soundgarden, but I’m fully aware of their importance in the history of rock. When I saw this morning that Chris Cornell died, likely of a suicide, it certainly made my heart sink. I thought instantly of fellow Progarchist Carl Olson, who has expressed his love and admiration for Cornell’s music in several posts here at Progarchy over the years. His tribute today to Cornell captures that sense of loss that we all feel when one of our musical heroes passes away.

While I’m saddened by each of the recent passings, those that die by suicide, such as Keith Emerson and now Cornell, seem to impact me the most. So many often ask why these greats choose to kill themselves, but suicide needs no reason. Depression isn’t a choice, and those suffering from that awful sickness are typically not in their right mind. When they choose to take their own life, I really don’t think it is them making the decision. There’s something whispering in their ear that ending it all will make things easier – the pain will end… no one will miss you… your loved ones would be better off without you – or any other such nonsense. Whenever I hear of someone committing suicide, my heart sinks because that awful voice has claimed another victim. He’s added another notch to his belt.

Combine the depression that so many people suffer from with the endless stream of crap spewing at us from different “news” sources, and it is all too easy to get angry. It is easy to scream at the television or curse at those with differing opinions. Some may pick up signs and stones and march in public demanding whatever it is that they feel strongly about. Who cares if property gets damaged or people get hurt… as long as the point is made.

But what about the people on the receiving end of that anger? How are they to respond? Jesus tells us to return evil for good… to turn the other cheek… to rejoice in suffering and persecution. This sounds so foreign to today’s ideals where everyone is entitled to their opinion and wants to shout it loudly from the rooftops. But maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place if we replaced cursings with blessings.

The Strawbs – “Benedictus”

In 1972, the Strawbs released a concept album entitled Grave New World. The first song on that album, “Benedictus,” is a simple call to bless those that hate us. It calls us to bless the good and to bless the bad. I’ve listened to this song more times than I can count today, and I certainly feel convicted.

The wanderer has far to go
Humble must he constant be
Where the paths of wisdom
Distant is the shadow of the setting sun.

Bless the daytime
Bless the night
Bless the sun which gives us light
Bless the thunder
Bless the rain
Bless all those who cause us pain.

Yellow stars may guide the way
All diversions lead astray
While his resolution holds
Fortune and good will will surely follow him.

Bless the free man
Bless the slave
Bless the hero in his grave
Bless the soldier
Bless the saint
Bless all those whose hearts grow faint.

What would the world look like if more people asked God or made an effort to “bless all those who cause us pain?” What if we even made an effort to forgive those people?

Perhaps the most important point here is the one the Strawbs end with: “Bless all those whose hearts grow faint.” Sometime within the last 24 hours, Chris Cornell’s heart grew faint. If anybody needed blessing at that time, it was him. Maybe you know somebody in a similar position… somebody too afraid to talk about it. Maybe you find yourself in that position (and if that’s the case, please don’t shut others out, and for heaven’s sake don’t listen to that voice telling you to end it all – he’s a lying bastard). Maybe you find yourself pained by others, and subsequently you are bitter about it. In their own simple way, the Strawbs ask that you let go of that hate. Choose to bless those who need it, and you may find your own burden lifted from your shoulders.

Now I know this isn’t easy – believe me, I struggle to love and bless those that hate me on a daily basis. It is certainly not human nature to bless that which we dislike. However, the Strawbs get at the real meaning of peace with this song. So many artists talk about peace in some undefined hippie sense, but the Strawbs have shined the light on the real path to peace… a path that Jesus paved 2,000 years ago. Choosing to pray blessings over every situation we come in contact with isn’t merely an action. It is a way of living, and if more people lived that way, then maybe we finally would have peace in this world.

Bless the Cornell and Emerson families. May their hearts never grow faint, even in these tough times.

5 thoughts on “Peace, The Strawbs, and the Tragic Passing of Chris Cornell

  1. Very well written here Bryan!!! I’ve always LOVED Cornell’s voice,since the very FIRST TIME I heard it WAAAAAAY back in the latter part of the 80’s!!! And when he emerged in the early 90’s with SoundGarden, (a band whom I’ve ALWAYS loved their music!!!),that Love for his Rock/Metal shrieking Vocals,just increased!!!

    I too………..contemplated and even attempted suicide more than once myself,because AS YOU SAID………….that “voice” was ever present,and the more I listened to it,the MORE STRONGER it became,to the point where NOTHING could turn me away from it!!! For it was unending,the more I listened to it!!!

    Anyway,obviously………I’m still here,able to write about many years later,so SOME may say,I “failed” in my attempt!!! Haha,well……….SOME may choose to look at it as FAILING to end my life…………….but I CHOOSE to look at it,as REDEEMING myself from the jaws of persecution!!! Now? Looking back on my past,I STILL………..to this day,know that had I actually gone through with that back then…………..I honestly would’ve missed out on SO MUCH that I never thought was possible!!! BUT…………that’s not my point to this comment here.

    My POINT,is THESE days…………..I’ve learned to CHANGE my entire reaction to things in life!!! Back then,stuff that used to anger me? I NOW,let it roll right off of me!!! Things that used to Frustrate me,and tense me up? I just let it go from my mind,without giving it a second thought!!! I have my reasons for doing so,but I ALSO know,that there’s many,MANY others in this world.who CAN’T (or are unable to do so) let things go so easily!!! Instead,they choose to hold on to it,for dear life,only to let their misery increase!!! (again,the job of that lying-bastard you spoke of up there^^^) Anyway………..I’m VERY SORRY that Chris Cornell is now gone!!! DESPITE the “cause” of his death………..trying to find out the “reasoning” behind it all,just sucks us DEEPER into the pit of this quicksand!!! I Loved Chris Cornell’s voice,his music,etc. but all I can do now,is pass my Blessings onto his family and friends,in hoping their able to see a “positive” in all this negativity in the world today!!!

    ~Peace~

    Liked by 1 person

  2. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Bryan. I wish my homilies had the love of Christ and the charity and caring you express so eloquently in your post. God be with the family and loved ones of Chris Cornell. And God be with you Bryan, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Michał

    I can honestly say that I needed this post.

    I also have never been a fan of Soundgarden, although I like some of their music (and Cornell solo) quite a lot, but I have huge respect for Chris and the band as musicians and artists. This is why I got really angry when the media announced that Chris committed suicide. I mean, how selfish! A family man, an inspiration to many…

    Your post made me rethink my sentiments. It made me understand that not all decisions are, well, decisions, but rather consequences of some superior process beyond our control.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

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