Chris Cornell was one of the greatest songwriters of his generation and a singer without peer. He was a musical wanderer who, as the head of multiple iconic groups like Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog, and Audioslave, as well as a solo artist, crafted songs filled with intrigue, dread, bombast, pain, levity, and gut-wrenching human emotion. His gripping material was fueled by a four-octave voice, capable of lifting his songs into the stratosphere, or straight down into the deepest, darkest trenches of the Earth’s crust.
As a member of so many different outfits, and with literally hundreds of pieces of music to his name, it might be a bit daunting for some to know where to begin with Cornell’s vast catalog. With that in mind, here is a collection of 20 of his greatest musical achievements that’ll help give a better overall picture of who and what this singular artist was really all about.
20. “Big Dumb Sex” – Soundgarden
It might be a bit of a stretch to call this song “controversial,” but it certainly raised the hackles of pearl-clutching set when it dropped on Louder Than Love in 1989. “Big Dumb Sex” was meant to be taken as a parody of the overt, over-the-top sexuality expressed by so many glam and hair metal bands of the 1980s, but the subtlety of the message was lost amongst Cornell’s pleas that he knew just what to do, and that he was going to “f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, you!” Win some, lose some.
19. “You Know My Name” – Chris Cornell
When the producers of the James Bond series looked to reboot the franchise around 2006 with Daniel Craig in the lead role for the film Casino Royale, they decided to turn to Chris Cornell to craft an electrifying opener capable of matching the action-packed nature of their film. Needless to say they were in good hands. “You Know My Name” is one of the few Bond themes not to co-opt the title of the movie. Cornell styles 007 as a man who needs no introduction, and marries some of the best elements of Tom Jones seductive crooner elements on “Thunderball” with the over-the-top orchestration of Paul McCartney’s “Live And Let Die.” Not only is it one of Cornell’s best tracks, it also remains one of the finest musical entries in the James Bond musical canon.