How John Lennon became a “father figure” to Chris Cornell?

Chris Cornell

The late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell used music as a means of escape from his environment at a young age, allowing him to lose himself in a far more cosy place. The Beatles were the first band he heard, and they struck a deep chord with him. John Lennon went on to play a significant role in his life.

Although Cornell grew up in a Catholic environment, he was aware from an early age that music, not Catholicism, was the religion he would follow throughout his life. It made sense in a way that was unlike anything he had experienced growing up. The Beatles were crucial to his awakening and subsequent path towards establishing a dazzling artistic career.

In a BBC 6 Music interview, Cornell discussed his life’s most significant musical experiences, highlighting his discovery of The Beatles.
Too young for their initial release, Cornell explored The Beatles’ entire catalogue, forming a foundational understanding of songwriting. This, in essence, gave him a foundational understanding of songwriting after studying the greatest.

He also gave an explanation of the obsession that turned him into a “music geek”. He remarked, “I think that time, which was just the Beatles for a few years, was kind of like music college for me”. Not only could I write, but I could also record, sing, produce records, and do everything else without realizing it. This happened because I had listened to everything so much.

“It all seemed to just get in there somehow subconsciously because I wasn’t thinking about it,” Cornell added. I never imagined myself as a musician, songwriter, or singer.”

Chris Cornell frequently covered John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ as a solo artist. Furthermore, when Cornell appeared on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM radio show in 2011, he entered the studio to perform a cover of the classic song. However, before the Soundgarden frontman began the acoustic rendition, the duo discussed the impact of John Lennon on their lives.

When Stern calls John Lennon “the greatest songwriter ever,” the Soundgarden band agrees, but adds that he is “probably my favourite”. “I actually looked to him as a father figure when I was a kid because I sat in a room at nine, ten years old and listened to Beatles records and John Lennon records over and over and over and over again,” Cornell continued. He was an intense guy with an intense musical, lyrical, and personal attitude.”

As a child when Lennon entered his life, Cornell remained a lifelong fan of the Liverpool musician. As his words to Stern all those years later demonstrate, the impact endured over time. While almost everything in his life changed, The Beatles remained a constant. Lennon’s work was still there to guide him, as it had all those years before.

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