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'Black Hole Sun' memory of Chris Cornell

Today is five years since Chris Cornell took his life.

Five years ago, far too soon 😢

Today is a day I let myself do nothing much at all save remember.

I think about how much I miss a man I never knew, how much his words have meant in my life, and how grateful I am that he shared his musical gift with the lost and the lonely ones like me.

And I think about how glad I am the whole world knows his name, and I wish he never left us.

Audioslave has played near daily in our household for the past decade or so, and Soundgarden spoke to me in my youth.

No one sings like him anymore, but I sing along anyway.

Because if we keep singing, Chris Cornell's legacy lives on and he will never be forgotten, never truly gone.

We will keep singing and speaking his name.

Soundgarden's 'Black Hole Sun' was released on Friday 13th May 1994, and as Velvet Arrow performed on the same evening last week 28 years later, I had moments where that memory overwhelmed me and threatened to make me cry as I sang.

Reminders of Chris Cornell's life are often and everywhere and all around me.

The first time I heard 'Black Hole Sun' was at a youth rave in my sleepy home town back in the nineties, and listening to Chris Cornell's voice and lyrics cut through the air seemed to change my life somehow, or so it felt to teenage me.

'Black Hole Sun' hurts and it soothes, and it makes me cry for all the lost and wasted potential it reminds me of. All these years since I have sung it over and over to myself, slowed down and stripped back in all its haunting sadness - as some kind of lyrical balm to my soul.

When Dan and I first met in 2017, we found musical common ground quickly - none more solid than our mutual love of Chris Cornell, and devastation of his loss.

Looking back, that year was one of the worst there ever was - but I am grateful we met when we did even so... I'm not sure how I'd have got through 2020 and beyond without him!

Some years later, I ventured the idea of singing 'Black Hole Sun' one day - but Dan wasn't willing to touch it at the time... something about nobody being able to play or sing like Chris Cornell, and not wanting to try. All fair and true enough.

But I believe in Dan's skill and sensitivity all the same.

So I left it, for a while, and then I asked again, and then some time later again :)

Because when something's in my heart, it doesn't go away - 17 year old Hannah has been reminding me every day she's still here wanting to sing it too.

And because I never imagined singing 'Black Hole Sun' the way Soundgarden did - I heard it slowed down to a heartbeat and barely whispered above the crowd.

That's how I always hear it... a quiet anthem of solidarity for folk like me - screaming that we are not alone.

For me, covering a song is not an attempt to be like the original, but to recognise the essence, and to honour the human behind it.

Eventually I found a way to record a rough idea of the version in my head, and sent it through to Dan, who fortunately and to my relief said he loved it!

He began creating a beautiful bed of slow and sad sounds for my voice to sink into... and when he shared it with me, I cried to hear out loud the song I carried silently inside for so long, exactly the way I had always felt it to be.

I love the chemistry of our Velvet Arrow experiments, and I love that Dan understands and can translate my heart and vision the way he does with music.

When we create something together, it feels like some kind of musical magic that's hard to explain in words.

So we recorded vocals back in 2020, and then left it a long while for one reason or another, and then we revisited it again in 2021, and re-recorded the vocal around this time last year, and then more recently Dan welcomed a Lauten microphone into the family, so we re-re-recorded the vocal recently, for the third and loveliest time :)

Any day I get to sing this song is a good day!

One day perhaps we will create a Velvet Arrow evening of music in memory of Chris Cornell, but here is our 'Black Hole Sun' offering for now. x

No one sings like him anymore, but if we sing anyway it keeps his memory alive - and for that I sing. 🖤🖤🖤


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