Two years ago I wrote about coincidences; because Alabama was on my mind then, I was thinking about my big Alabama coincidence. But I have another one that I hadn't thought about for a long time until this week, when the news came out that Chris Cornell committed suicide after a concert. Even then, I had to confirm that my coincidence wasn't just a figment of my imagination and Googled it to be sure.
Chris Cornell has been part of life in the Dillow house since before there was a Dillow house. He was never mine, always Matt's—but I grew to appreciate him tremendously, absorbing his stunning voice and range over the years like second hand smoke. I've always preferred his singing songs vs. his screaming ones, but even those have grown on me with time. In fact, my very first introduction to Soundgarden in high school was the screaming kind: Heretic, a song from the 1990 soundtrack to Pump Up the Volume was a song I listened to (song #8, always in order, like any proper soundtrack should be consumed) over hundreds of times listening to that CD. The soundtrack to Singles is so much the soundtrack to the feel of college for us, and his Seasons from that collection immediately sends me back to those years we spent in Oxford like a time travel portal. I'm almost startled by how utterly grunge-filled so much of my life from that era actually is—for someone who considers herself to be pretty non-nihilistic, sometimes I have to wonder when I look back. Much has already been written about how in the world someone so successful, so established, so... stable a rock star could possibly be lost to suicide (this and this are especially good) that I have nothing to add on that front except another handful of stones to throw on the staggering pile of shock and sadness marking musicians gone far too soon.
This coincidence story is not sad, though.
After Matt's graduation from Miami, we stayed in Oxford to work for Upward Bound for the summer. On May 10, 1994 (oddly specific yet important to the story) Matt and I went to our very favorite place of business in Oxford, Ohio to spend our limited funds on more music: Looney T Bird's. We spent a lot of limited funds there during our time in Oxford; on this day we may have purchased more than two CDs, but the only two I know with absolute certainty are Soundgarden's Superunknown and the Connells's Ring. I remember thinking how funny it was that we inadvertently bought two albums with reference to eclipses (Black Hole Sun from this album is probably the most mainstream of Soundgarden's early songs). But later that day, we learned that there had been a major solar eclipse. On the same day we purchased those CDs. It seemed too wildly bizarre to be true, but it was. This week I thought for sure I had imagined the eclipse part of the story, but I didn't. After googling eclipses in May 1994, I had a confirmed date. Incidentally, 13 years exactly before Bridget would be born.
This summer there will be a major solar eclipse that hundreds of thousands of people will flock to Wyoming to witness. We won't be camping out in Casper or Jackson or anywhere else along the path, but we will sit on our porch and remember Chris Cornell.