Music lost one of its icons when Chris Cornell died at the age of 52 on Thursday. But Cornell also had a strong connection not only to the Seattle Sound that swept the country in the early 1990s but also to his local NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, in recent years.
Sure, the team has had its share of celebrity fans spring up since the Seahawks have become title contenders over the past five or so seasons. But Cornell always was proud of his city and the energy it brought not only to his shows — first Soundgarden, then Audioslave and also his solo gigs — but also as “The 12th Man” at what’s now called CenturyLink Field.
We remember Chris Cornell, a Seattle icon, devoted 12, and one of the great voices in rock and roll history. pic.twitter.com/WGArNq8EpL
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) May 18, 2017
Both movements came on like Pacific Northwest storms and became impossible to ignore. You had no chance of tuning out the noise. Cornell tried to define that sound prior to the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos in this hype video:
First, hat tips to Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer, my former coworker and fellow ’90s music fan, and to Field Gulls, an excellent and essential Seahawks blog, for their spot-on tributes to Cornell and his Seahawks fandom. I just wanted to pass on a few more thoughts about him, yes, through a Seahawks lens but also from a personal perspective.
I saw Cornell and Soundgarden open for Guns N’ Roses at the Worcester (Mass.) Coliseum in December of 1991, and from the first notes of “Outshined,” the first number they played that night, I knew it was something different. That was the first time I’d heard that song, one that has stood up to me as the finest in their catalog, and it’s both sad and fitting that its haunting lyrics mean something entirely different knowing Cornell’s death reportedly has been ruled as a suicide.
Just one part of that song that sticks out a bit more today:
I can’t get any lower /
Still I feel I’m sinking …
But for right now, I am going to think about Cornell the insanely gifted singer … the impossibly good-looking front man … and quiet, introspective thinker … and as the rabid Seahawks fan he was. He went to many games, played pre-show concerts and also was tabbed to play the post-Super Bowl victory show at the team’s parade.
From that day:
“It’s a good day to be from Seattle,” Cornell said, via Seahawks.com. “We’ve always been loud. And it’s amazing how much louder [Seahawks fans] are with nothing [but your voice] than us.”
Cornell’s voice lives on. Still loud as ever. The 12th Man and the city he loved so much wouldn’t have it any other way.
– – – – – – –