9 months ago
The world was shocked and saddened to learn of Chris Cornell’s suicide last week, and almost immediately after the news broke, members of the music community began recording live and studio takes of some of the former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman’s greatest songs.
One of Cornell’s greatest sonic achievements was the haunting, detuned “Black Hole Sun” from Soundgarden’s 1994 masterpiece Superunknown. The song would spend seven weeks at No. 1.
As a result, it would’ve been on the radios and Napster playlists of many of the band’s contemporaries—as well as many future recording artists’ playlists. But musically speaking, it’s also one of Soundgarden’s most difficult tracks to replicate, despite it being in G major. That is in large part due to it wrapping neatly around Cornell’s otherworldly vocals range—and it’s not-so-obvious chord changes (it was composed in drop-D tuning, where the low E on a guitar is detuned to a D).
Below, find a number of today’s best recording artists, including Norah Jones and Ryan Adams, doing their take on “Black Hole Sun.”
Norah Jones – What a pretty cover. Jones takes all that we love about her own music—that tightrope walk between folk, pop, and jazz, along with those sultry vocals—and marries it with Cornell’s original melody.
Ryan Adams – One of his generation’s greatest songwriters, Adams instills his Americana-meets-punk brilliance to this take. The outro lends an extra haunting quality with its removal of the “black hole sun! black hole sun!” response in the call-and-response.
Cody Jinks & Paul Cauthen – These two up-and-coming country stars were the first artists, as far as we could tell, to record a tribute to Cornell after learning of his passing. This stark arrangement makes us think of an empty honky-tonk and the end of days.
Rob Trujillo of Metallica – As heavy metal god Metallica’s third bassist, Rob Trujillo has had a lot to live up to. For rabid fans, that means playing in the shadow of the band’s great, original bassman, Cliff Burton. Here, Trujillo gets his Burton-esque mid-concert bass solo on, drenched in distortion and wah pedal. What’s coming out? “Black Hole Sun” in a shower of ash.
Ann Wilson of Heart – Man, what can’t you say about Heart? One of the grittiest, greatest rock bands of the ’70s, fronted by two of the most talented women in rock history. Here’s lead singer Ann Wilson blasting out her take on “Black Hole Sun” on Jimmy Kimmel Live.