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“Summer nights and long warm days…”

CC

“…are stolen as the old moon falls. My mirror shows another face, another place to hide it all.”

I swore that I was going to retire from seeing live music. Maybe because the last concert I attended just happened to be Chris Cornell at Ravinia, an amazing show by my favorite performer of all time.

Chris is gone now. I’m not really sure if I’m ready to talk about his passing, or what it did to me. Not yet. But I am ready to talk about that show…

Sunday, July 3, 2016 – Ravinia Festival, Chicago, Illinois:

The night was perfect, hot but not humid. Ravinia is a beautiful venue, whether you sit on the lawn with a bottle of wine, or pay extra for a seat under the pavilion. For Chris Cornell, we paid extra.

He sang songs from every stage of his career: Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, his solo work, and even a few cover songs like Prince’s Nothing Compares to You. The memory is even more bittersweet now when you consider the Prince song was a tribute to an artist gone too soon.

Just Chris on guitar and a friend on a cello bass, but the sound devoured the space. Like other people in the crowd, I captured a snippet of him singing on my phone. Funny, when I was a kid watching bands like AC/DC or Aerosmith, we held up lighters to show our appreciation.

Now we use phones.

Saturday, July 8, 2017 – Summerfest: Milwaukee Wisconsin:

The band is called Highly Suspect, and, in my opinion, one of the best bands out there. Standing on top of the bleacher seat, feeling the drums pounding in my chest, I am transported back in time. My first concert? UFO. Remember them? (If you do, fist bump.) Judas Priest opened the show. Rob Halford rode a motorcycle to center stage, and it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.

Johnny Stevens has a voice that carries through the arena and punches you in the gut. All around me, fans have their phones out capturing digital souvenirs.

Sunday, July 3, 2016:

I’ll admit, I cried during the show. That’s how much Chris’ music meant to me. Maybe I sang along, just a little, even though I’m not much of a singer, only because saying the words out loud along with him felt right.

“Every time I stare into the sun
Trying to find a reason to go on
All I ever get is burned and blind,
Until the sky bleeds the pouring rain.”

You feel lyrics like those, feel them, get stung by them, but love them anyway. He ended the show with my favorite song of his, “Seasons”.

“And I’m lost behind
The words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by.”

I still cry when I hear that song, even more now.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Watching the crowd, I remember that last show – Chris Cornell smiling, singing with everything he had. Frantic, I try to remember – did I keep the video I captured from that night? No, I remember deleting it because the quality was so poor.

Feeling a sharp pang of regret, I shift position, and concentrate on this show.

“I’m feeling the way that I’m feeling myself
Fuck everyone else,
Gotta remember that nobody is better than anyone else, here.”

The lyrics, the voice, the blaring guitar, I let the music drown my thoughts, as I often do. Music is a refuge I can’t live without. Around me are people from all walks of life, fists pumping, heads bobbing, feeling the sound in their own way.

I hope they know what a precious gift this is.

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