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What will be your final decision?

What will be your final decision?

The jitterbugs of standing in front of an audience, no matter how big or small, and the (hopeful) appreciation and response to the universal language of music; that is why I do what I do. That is why I speak with my heart- music is life, the rest is mere detail. 

Yet, the passing of American rocker Chris Cornell, has once again raised a series of questions that need to be answered. Why is it that performing artists seem to have a higher suicide rate than those who are not in the creative industries. Or does it only appear this way?

‘The suicide rate of musicians is about three times the national average’, according to work by Steve Stack, director of the Center for Suicide Research and a professor at Wayne State University’ (ref.

The creative mind is one that never rests. Therefore, all that which is beyond the realm of a mostly hyper-active mind, does not take any real form in the artist's life. An immediate side-effect? Loneliness. And with that comes the involuntary submission to a lifestyle, in which you have no control. The path of an artist usually starts with a struggle. We are merely talking about a state of mind. Whether successful or not, the artist is the person who always gets most affected by the symptoms of the industry. Pressure, monies, someone else managing your life. I don’t mean to sound overtly morose, but critical analytic runs in the family. 

Chris Cornell, a man in his young 50’s, took his life day before yesterday. Why does it affect me so much? I didn’t know him personally. Yet both his bands, Soundgarden and Audioslave, created a musical atmosphere which is close to the heart. For what else do we have but our memories? But hiding behind the grammy winning artist, there seems to be an agenda that his peers nor friends had anticipated. 

There is no concrete reason why Soundgarden split up, but creative differences have been cited. When in 2000 Rage Against the Machine members scouted and discovered Cornell to form Audioslave, all seemed to go well. Cornell was not just any singer. He was the man that ‘made songs sound transcendent’, according to former Rage Against the Machine friend Rick Rubin {ref Wikipedia}. Cornell, once a drug-abuser and alcoholic, attended rehab after recording Audioslave

"Chris was stone sober during the making of our Out of Exile album. Chris was also sober during the making of Revelations and prior to recording he gave up smoking as well”, said Morello (lead guitarist of Audioslave).

When ultimately Audioslave disbanded, the band members claimed that the struggle was coming from conflicts between Cornell’s management and manager of {former} Rage Against the Machine. But how can we ignore the timeline Cornell’s career traces- the struggle with Soundgarden, the alcohol, the addiction, the divorce from his first wife, conversion to Greek Orthodox for his second wife, and political slogans resonating hate for Bush’s Iraq agenda to reuniting with Soundgarden to protest the decisions of Donald Trump; many factors and much drama seems to have led up to Cornell’s demise.

Things are improving though, wouldn’t you agree? The average person is becoming easily content with his or her milestones, because social media can make us overnight superstars. Also, help and support are openly available in all forms today.

The artist’s ego is so easily stroked. 20 views on a live stream makes someone’s day. And then there are those who aim higher. Not even 2 million seem enough. 

I can’t help but ask myself, if this is atypical to the life of an artist. Does this mean I, too, will end up with a psychological breakdown that pushes me over the edge? How was it to be in Curt Cobain’s or William Tucker's or Donny Hathaway’s mental state? Was this really their final decision? And will it manifest to be mine as well….