Rockin’ genius to the Hult: Chris Cornell’s magical evening in Eugene, Oregon

Waiting for the show to commence….

Nearing the end of his stunning two-and-a-half hour concert last night at the Hult Center here in Eugene, Oregon, a clearly delighted Chris Cornell noted that while he had enjoyed his two previous stops in Eugene, this particular night was “special”. He was quite right. I was at his October 19, 2013 show at The Shedd—a smaller and more intimate (that is, cramped) venue—and while it was a very good show, Cornell topped it last night with a generous mix of newer and older tunes—a total of 26 songs in all— the occasional accompaniment of Brian Gibson on keyboards and cello, and a vocal performance that rivals any I’ve heard from him—and I’ve listened to numerous live performances on albums and via YouTube.

Simply put, Cornell’s songs are demanding, requiring the sort of range, strength, stamina, and flexibility that very few singers can pull off on a regular basis. And there have been times when the strains of traveling and performing have taken a toll on Cornell’s voice, especially on Soundgarden tours. But the legendary singer and songwriter (Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, solo) is, without doubt, in a wonderful place as an artist, making great new music and embracing his older songs with unashamed enthusiasm. Late in the set, introducing “Black Hole Sun”—a huge hit that he has sung countless times—Cornell mused that he didn’t understand why some artists end up “hating” those defining hits. “If you don’t want to sing it,” he said, “don’t write it and record it in the first place.” And then he tore into the song as if he had written it just last week, clearly thriving on the interplay between his acoustic guitar riffs and Gibson’s dynamic cello excursions.  Continue reading “Rockin’ genius to the Hult: Chris Cornell’s magical evening in Eugene, Oregon”

Nothing compares to ChrisPrinceO’ConnorCornell!

As a longtime admirer of the musical magic of Soundgarden and Chris Cornell, I had high hopes for Cornell’s new solo album “Higher Truth”. I was not disappointed. On the contrary, the album exceeded my expectations; I think that TimeLord is right on the mark in giving the album 5 stars. I’ve listened to the album some 30 times or so now, and keep finding new aural delights, whether in the abundance of fabulous melodies, or the subtleties (yes, subtleties!) of the vocals and harmonies (all of them by Cornell), or the fabulous production.

On top of that embarrassment of riches, SiriusXM radio recently released a video, now going viral, of Cornell performing “Nothing Compares To U”, which was a major hit for Sinead O’Connor a quarter century ago (was it really that long ago? Yep.). Many folks apparently think O’Connor wrote the song, but it was actually written by Prince for his side project, The Family, and it appears on one of his hits compilations. Cornell, as he did with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, employs a more bluesy sound, augmented by cello and additional acoustic guitar. The result is dynamite: