In the Black Open Sun: Reflecting on the lives of Tom Petty, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington



Editor’s Note: The title is a mashup of famous songs from Chris Cornell, Tom Petty and Chester Bennington. The songs are “In the End”, “Black Hole Sun” and “Into the Great Wide Open”

Rebekah HawkinsAssociate Editor

One of the things I remember about my childhood and early teenage years was the surprising lack of good music. My parents were religious and tried their hardest to keep music that they didn’t deem appropriate out of our house. As such most of the music I listened to was from the Seventies, which wasn’t really a bad thing because I greatly liked most of it and still do, but trying to stay up to date on music wasn’t something that I had much control over.

I remember going to a friend’s house and hearing Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync but that was pretty much the extent of my musical taste. Bad pop music, oldies and praise and worship music.

That is until I made a new friend. With this friend came a whole new world of music, including Linkin Park.

I loved the sound of the music, although at 13, I didn’t really understand the depth of the lyrics like I do now. I memorized the lyrics to “In the End”, “Numb”, “Faint”, “Crawling” and so many others and grappled for more of it. I still remember when we left the music blaring in my bedroom and my parents overheard it and said not to listen to it anymore because the lyrics were obviously about suicide. So I stopped listening to it in their house, and instead listened to the forbidden Linkin Park in my friend’s house and car.

Many, many years later I was introduced to Chris Cornell by way of Soundgarden. I had started branching out more in my musical taste. For so long I avoided hard rock and the grunge music of the Nineties because again religion kept me from enjoying things that I felt like were “bad” or “not appropriate”. But once I reached a certain age, I no longer cared. I bathed in music that I had ignored or pretended not to know, fell in love with rock from every decade, with other styles and bands. Listened for hours and hours to music that I had never even heard of, but loved all the same. I couldn’t get enough of it.

With Soundgarden came Tom Petty. Just by chance. He happened upon my radio station and before I knew it, he was a regular on my playlists. All this music that I had never listened to, all the beautiful lyrics that I had never heard. All the music that I missed.

It wasn’t just Chris Cornell or Tom Petty or Chester Bennington that gave me beautiful music, there were obviously several other artists, but those three were a big part of me rediscovering myself, in a way. I had never known music like what they played. I had never heard voices like theirs. Unique, each in their own way, and powerful, again in their own ways.

It was a punch in the stomach when Chris Cornell died, a slap in the face when Chester Bennington followed and a total loss for words when Tom Petty was taken.

In some ways, I don’t expect people to understand getting worked up over celebrity deaths, and to an extent I know a lot of this sounds insane. But their music marked turning points in my life. Moments of self-discovery and change, moments of happiness and joy, moments of sadness. Music has effects on people in many ways, and artists live on in the words they write and the music they leave behind.

The voices of these artists will forever have an effect on my life, and I hope to continue to pass them on as the years go by. So this is my farewell to them.

“When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done, help me leave behind some reasons to be missed. Don’t resent me and when you’re feeling empty, keep me in your memory. Leave out all the rest, leave out all the rest.” – Rest in peace Chester Bennington

“Stuttering, cold and damp, steal the warm wind tired friend. Times are gone for honest men, and sometimes far too long for snakes. In my shoes, a walking sleep, and my youth I pray to keep. Heaven sent hell away, no one sings like you anymore.” – Rest in peace Chris Cornell

“I wanna glide down over Mulholland. I wanna write her name in the sky. I’m gonna free fall out into nothin’. Gonna leave this world for awhile. And I’m free, free fallin’.” – Rest in peace Tom Petty


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Be the first to comment on "In the Black Open Sun: Reflecting on the lives of Tom Petty, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington"

Leave a Reply