Ten Chris Cornell Songs That Explain Why He Will Outlive Us All

Ten of Chris Cornell's best songs.
Ten of Chris Cornell's best songs. Soundgarden

This is all getting horribly familiar, isn’t it? We’ve lost another one — a great musician and songwriter taken far too young. We’ll never know quite why Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden and AudioSlave, made the decisions that he did, but it’s not for us to judge.

While Denver will miss him and Soundgarden at the Fillmore Auditorium on Monday, Chris Cornell will live forever through his music. He’s left us with many great albums from his different projects, and his songs aren't going anywhere. Here are ten of our favorites, though the list could have been much longer.

1. Soundgarden — "Big Dumb Sex"
Louder Than Love was the second Soundgarden album following 1988’s Ultramega OK, though the band’s first for A&M Records. Other songs from Louder Than Love, such as “Hands All Over” and “Full On Kevin’s Mom” just fell short for this list, but “Big Dumb Sex” is a shoo-in. A typically witty and cynical blast of sing-along hilarity, the song remained a fan fave throughout the band’s career. It was semi-famously covered by Guns N’ Roses on The Spaghetti Incident.

2. Soundgarden — "Rusty Cage"
The third album, Badmotorfinger, was and is a masterpiece. We restricted ourselves to just three picks from that album, but it could have filled the list. From that Mark Dancey (of Detroit band Big Chief) cover artwork to the close of “New Damage,” the record is a killer. “Rusty Cage” kicks the whole thing off, the brain-drilling intro leading into a monolithic riff and Cornell’s echoed vocals. It’s the perfect album opener, but also a magnificent stand-alone track.

3. Soundgarden — "Outshined"
So much awesomeness here. “Rusty Cage” leads directly into “Outshined,” and more chugging guitar from the great Kim Thayil before a burst of subtle sunshine in the bridge and the climatic vocal chorus. This was also the second single from the album – and the United States, and indeed the world, at least within the heavy-music communities, was now fully aware of who Soundgarden was.

4. Soundgarden — "Jesus Christ Pose"
Some will say that by opting for the three singles from Badmotorfinger, we’ve copped out and gone for the obvious choices. We say, in this case, there’s a good reason that these three songs were picked to be the singles. “Jesus Christ Pose” was the first track on the record, and it remains our favorite Soundgarden song. From that vivid and controversial video to the incendiary vocals, this was a far-from-safe choice for a mainstream introduction to the band, but it worked. Cornell’s voice crossed boundaries and blurred genre lines. People called it grunge, as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains exploded at around the same time, but it was really just great rock and roll. A savior was born.

5. Soundgarden — "Black Hole Sun"
Some fans felt that Soundgarden’s fourth album, Superunknown, was a bit too commercially aware, and it did come out a tad more polished than previous efforts, but the quality songs are still there. “Spoonman” was an excellent lead-off single, but it was “Black Hole Sun,” with the mildly disturbing face-warp family, that blew up on MTV. Subversive and biting, Soundgarden was sparring with the establishment from the inside.

Read on for more of Chris Cornell's best songs.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.