Chris Cornell

Ron Elkman USA Today

The Songs That Defined Chris Cornell's Career

By: Branden Griffith

July 20, 2017

Grunge legend Chris Cornell sadly passed away after Soundgarden's show in Detroit on Wednesday night. At 52 years old, Cornell helped set the landscape for grunge music beginning in the late ‘80s before the genre found a foothold in the early ‘90s in Seattle.

A Seattleite himself, his death leaves a dark cloud over the Northwest as it has lost one of its favorite sons. Cornell even appeared in the Seattle-set movie Singles as a parody of himself and the local grunge scene.

Known for his membership and stewardship of Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog, Cornell's career was long, illustrious, and lasted until the very end of his life. Cornell closed out the Detroit show with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "In My Time of Dying."

As both a solo musician and frontman of those three bands, Cornell put out a total of 15 works beginning in 1988 with Soundgarden's Ultramega OK. 

Now, nearly 30 years later, here are the songs that defined Cornell's career throughout the years.

"Flower" - Soundgarden (1988)

The very first song off the very first Soundgarden album Ultramega OK. The song was often used on MTV and helped define the Seattle grunge scene as Ultramega OK went on to win a Grammy for best metal performance. 

"Say Hello 2 Heaven" / "Hunger Strike" (1991) - Temple of the Dog

I can't pick just one song from the one-and-only Temple of the Dog album, so both of these will have to do. The one-time grunge supergroup (before it was known the things these men would achieve) formed as a tribute to the passing of their friend, Mother Love Bone frontman, and Chris Cornell's roommate, Andrew Wood, to a heroin overdose. The album is emotional, raw, and went on to critical acclaim as people started to realize it was essentially a Pearl Jam/Soundgarden collaboration album. 

"Jesus Christ Pose" - Soundgarden (1991)

Released the same year as Nevermind and Ten, Soundgarden's Badmotofinger was another pillar in the grunge scene as it catapulted from the PNW into national eye. Controversy over the band's single "Jesus Christ Pose" saw them receive death threats across the U.S. and Europe.

"Black Hole Sun" - Soundgarden (1994)

Superunknown was the album that put Soundgarden on the map. The album is 5x Platinum and the song "Black Hole Sun" needs no explanation as to its lasting effect. The album itself tops or at least appears on every "Best Rock Albums of All Time" list there is. 

"Like A Stone" - Audioslave (2002)

After a semi-unsuccessful solo attempt, supergroup Audioslave's self-titled effort brought Cornell back, along with 3/4 of Rage Against the Machine. Less than a month after its release, it was certified Gold. It was also recorded and produced during a particularly dark time in Cornell's storied past with drug and alcohol abuse, checking himself in to rehab during the creation of the album.

"You Know My Name (Casino Royale theme)" - Chris Cornell (2007) 

Cornell's second solo effort Carry On was released to mixed reviews, but most notably included the song "You Know My Name," Cornell's song which was used as the theme the James Bond franchise's Casino Royale. 

"Been Away Too Long" - Soundgarden (2012)

The band was back together. After 16 years, Soundgarden reunited to release King Animal and started touring the world, as well as touring with Temple of the Dog. King Animal would be the final group effort Cornell was involved in.

"Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart" - Chris Cornell (2015)

We didn't know it then, but Higher Truth would become the final studio album from Cornell after nearly 30 years of making music. 

"In My Time of Dying (Led Zeppelin Cover)" - Soundgarden (2017)

What would become the last song he ever performed, Led Zeppelin cover was poignant and haunting. 

We would have loved to see 30 more years, but more importantly, we would like to see Cornell alive and happy with his family and without his addictions and personal battles.

His untimely death is a reminder that if you or someone you know is dealing with depression, thoughts of self-harm, addiction, alcoholism or otherwise, there are crisis helplines which can point you in the right direction.

Let us know the songs from Cornell's career that stuck out to you.