As we woke up today that the golden pipes of Chris Cornell left us way too soon, this departure has to go down in the books as one of the most unexpected of the unexpected. Having just performed with Soundgarden hours before in Detroit, nobody would have guessed this wound have been the end.
There are rock singers with great voices but Cornell’s had a gift of voice that was simply four octave astonishing. As we put the pieces together of this tragic loss, the stories and lists have been pouring in. We all know Cornell’s greatest moments with his Soundgarden material, but how about the songs done by others that he made his own? Is it safe to say that Cornell might have done the strongest job of reimagining songs by anyone at anytime? Perhaps – let’s let this list justify that question…
Billie Jean (Michael Jackson)
Cornell took on this “King of Pop” Thriller favorite on 2007’s solo LP Carry On. The track surfaced on mainstream alternative radio and surely proved that Cornell could take his vocals wherever he wanted. As one YouTube commenter so perfectly praised -“If I sang like this my bedroom floor would be littered with panties.”
I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)
Another interesting choice here as Cornell gave this Prince composition, best known as a 1990 mega hit by Sinead O’Connor, another twist that rivals the original. Such range and such power is graced here as Cornell gives a tortured tenderness not previously heard on such an intimate classic.
One (U2 Melody/Metallica Lyrics)
The merging of the Ones! Now this one might be the most imaginative one of them all. Cornell takes the melody of U2’s “One” and then mixes it up with the haunting lyrical story of Metallica’s In Justice For All Classic. When Cornell sings “Oh God, help me Hold my breath as I wish for death” it’s just all too eerie.
Redemption Song (Bob Marley)
Everyone can do a Marley song- not the most challenging thing but to capture the essence of the Marley and his distinctive voice, most tries fall flat. Cornell lets his range make something so rather simple so colorful and vibrant.
Thank You (Led Zeppelin)
Cornell has always been in top ten lead singer status of all time alongside Robert Plant, a comparison that both would surely find flattering. While there has always been a touch of Zeppelin in Soundgarden’s approach, Cornell give this early Zeppelin classic a nod of greatness and uniqueness.