Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament Explained Why Chris Cornell’s Songwriting Was So Powerful In First Public Comments

Managing Editor, Music
05.31.17

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Pearl Jam’s bassist Jeff Ament is a recent Rock Hall Of Fame inductee, and was a close friend and contemporary of the recently passed Chris Cornell, legendary Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman who took his own life, and who was also Ament’s Temple Of Dog supergroup bandmate.

Ament recently sat down with the NBA Soundsystem podcast to talk with hosts Brent Barry and Laurence Scott for a long conversation that covered multiple topics, but also included his first public comments on Cornell since his death. Ament thinks of Cornell as the greatest songwriter to come out of Seattle — even better than Hendrix — and noted that the darkness and processing of depression in his friend’s lyrics was part of what made them resonate with people:

“Jimi Hendrix included, Chris was the greatest songwriter to ever come out of Seattle,” Ament said. “Hendrix could play the guitar like crazy, but Chris had the songwriting chops that we all sort of hope to get to… he had a way that he could wrap a melody around odd time signatures and weird parts and make them catchy. And he was a beautiful wordsmith. If you look at his lyrics, he was obviously processing his pain and his depression and all those things. I think that’s part of what people, myself included, responded to when he was singing. And then with the songwriting, he had that voice. There’s not too many people who had that many options with their voice. He could inhabit a lot of different characters with that voice. I feel so lucky I got to be in a project with him and got to hang out with him and just witness his greatness.”

Ament was one of the people who have a eulogy for Cornell at the private service held to honor his memory in Los Angeles. Cornell was buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Read our tribute to Chris Cornell here.

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