A common question asked of me by people who have read The Running Waves: “What inspires/influences you?"
The question is usually followed by a list of writers, books, movies and television shows, curious to see if any of these particular triggers motivate me to write. My answers often disappoint and/or confuse people. I grew up in a family of writers where we practiced the age old adage, “Write what you know.”
I took this expression to heart and as I got older, I became most comfortable writing about my experiences and surroundings. What has motivated me most to write is music. For someone who has suffered with severe ADHD from a young age, music has always been in the background to help calm my busy head. Whether I was doing homework, performing weekly chores, or just taking a shower, I either had a boom box blaring or headphones wrapped around my ears.
Bands like The Police, U2, New Order, The Cure and The Smiths were all staples in my home while I was in grade school due to my five older siblings, and I loved all of it. However, in the fifth grade a summer friend introduced me to Led Zeppelin and I was instantly hooked. This introduction resulted in my love for “hard rock,” so when the “grunge” movement began its domination on pop culture in the early 1990s I was all ears.
Nirvana and Pearl Jam were two of the more mainstream bands of this era, but it was the group Soundgarden that I was most captivated by. Their sound transformed me back to 1987 when I first heard Zeppelin.
It was Soundgarden’s song “Outshined” that initially drew me in, but when the band’s album Superunknown was released I became a real fan. I loved all the penetrating guitar riffs, deep bass and banging percussion which were all complemented by lead singer Chris Cornell’s astonishing vocal range. Cornell’s intense screeches and vigorous belting aligned with a humble yet fearless attitude made him one of my favorite frontmen of all time. To me Chris Cornell personified “cool.”
The song “The Day I Tried To Live” was my favorite track off Superunkown, and when Ted and I were choosing songs for The Running Waves I was very excited to pay homage to one of the greatest bands of my generation. It wasn’t just the fact that I loved the song, but more because the song itself summed up Colin Brennan’s psyche.
Cornell told Rolling Stone in 1994, "It's about attempting to be normal and just go out and be around other people and hang out. I have a tendency to sometimes be pretty closed off and not see people for long periods of time and not call anyone.”
Colin Brennan is doing just that. Dealing with the loss of two friends, he abandons who he once was and adopts a new persona while abusing alcohol and drugs.
Since the book’s release, I had always dreamed of getting a copy to Chris Cornell, but unfortunately those dreams were dashed on May 18, 2017 when he died suddenly. He is now part of a book that was written to honor our friends who have also died prematurely. It’s a bittersweet feeling, but I feel extremely grateful that I chose Soundgarden to represent that period.
I send my prayers to Chris Cornell’s family and friends and feel blessed that such a great artist was introduced to the world.