Almost 13 years after calling it quits following a worldwide tour in support of their fifth studio album, Down On The Upside, Soundgarden announced on New Year’s Day, 2010 they were reuniting and hitting the festival circuit (including a stop at our own Voodoo Music Experience later this month). It was welcome news, not only for Soundgarden die-hards, but for supporters of decent music everywhere. After Soundgarden disbanded, Cornell’s work was inexplicably and tragically dismal. I mean, if you would have told me in 1994 that a band featuring Chris Cornell and 75% of Rage Against The Machine would suck as hard as Audioslave, I would have called you crazy; and his solo work offered little respite or consolation for those hoping Cornell could put his uncanny vocal range and proven writing chops to any good use in the 2000s.
But his forgettable post-Soundgarden output speaks less about his particular talent as a songsmith – Superunknown and even Badmotorfinger can rightfully be called triumphs of the mainstream grunge era – and more about the fickle and obscure nature of all creative talent. Who really knows why some artists craft timeless epics and others middle away in uninspiring mediocrity, or why the same person can create magic in the company of a select few individuals and absolute dreck with a different set of co-conspirators or when left to his own devices. I guess it’s just one of those eternal mysteries that makes art in all its forms so compelling.