Temple of the Dog, "Say Hello 2 Heaven" (1991)
Andrew Wood, the witchily flamboyant frontman of the Seattle gutter-glam outfit Mother Love Bone, was a close friend of Cornell's – the two were roommates for a year and Wood's early project Malfunkshun had appeared alongside Soundgarden on the early Seattle-scene comp Deep Six. After Wood's 1990 death from a heroin overdose, Cornell channeled his grief into two songs, the grinding hymn "Reach Down" and the elegiac "Say Hello 2 Heaven." The writing, Cornell told David Fricke last year, "came so quickly that I barely remember the thought process. [The two tracks] didn't seem to make sense for Soundgarden. I remember thinking, 'Is this okay?'" Cornell gave the demos to Jeff Ament, the bassist in Mother Love Bone, who fell for the songs instantly, and who, along with Mother Love Bone guitarist Stone Gossard, worked with Cornell to flesh them out. In its finished form, "Say Hello 2 Heaven" is mournful and thick, with Cornell's voice slowly building to a searching yawp as the guitars gently weep around him. The song opens 1991's Temple of the Dog, a document of the supergroup-in-waiting that helped cement Seattle as the epicenter of what was then known as "modern rock." "It didn't feel like a morose project. It felt sort of celebratory," Cornell told Reflex in 1991.