In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Seattle grunge scene endured no lack of press attention in its heyday, and no lack of books trying to deal with its history. From Michael Azerrard’s in-the-moment bio “Come as You Are: The Making of Nirvana” to Mark Yarm’s seminal “Everyone Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge” published two decades later, academic curiosity in one of the few real rock ‘n’ roll landmark revolutions shows no signs of slowing. Yet one of Generation X’s enduring punk stars has always been curiously overlooked: Chris Cornell.
Chris Cornell’s biography is great
The force-of-nature singer-songwriter who led Soundgarden and later Audioslave through two decades at the hard punk vanguard until dying of suicide in 2017. Join Corbin Reiff’s “Absolute F*cking Godhead: Chris Cornell’s Biography,” an lengthy 384-page Post Hill Press July 28 time that aims to fill life under all the screams.
Reiff, a music writer based in Seattle, was in the final stages of his first book, “Lighters in the Sky,” when Chris Cornell died and his publisher proposed that his personal obsession may make him the best choice to tackle the singer’s soup-to-nuts analysis.
“I said at first, ‘Nah, I don’t know if I’m really the best person to do that,'” Reiff continues. “But then the thought stuck with me, really. There weren’t many lines linked around Soundgarden and music culture. And even among the Seattle bands. Including Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains. They seemed to have been a little lost in culture. And so my book is an attempt to rewrite that record in a lot of ways.
Chris Cornell was also something of an curiosity, as important as he was to the Seattle rock scene. Typically a low-key offstage presence, his inimitable histrionic wail. And shirtless sex-symbol stage antics raised a number of eyebrows in the city’s more pure-minded. Also hardcore-informed underground rock, and Reiff ‘s book does a sharp job. Of illuminating the complex role he played within it. Though they had been a band for longer. Soundgarden reached critical mass slower than many of their local contemporaries. With their music initially being a little too ruggy and Zeppelin-esque for the college radio audience. And still too arty and mysterious for the mainstream.