Chris Cornell delivered a stripped-down, stirring rendition of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U" during an appearance on SiriusXM's Artist Confidential series on the alt-rock channel, Lithium.
Cornell's performance was bare bones and simple, paced similarly to Sinead O'Connor's own cover of the track, while his ragged vocals balanced between anguished soul and heart-wrenching arena rock. The Soundgarden frontman was backed by cellist Bryan Gibson, whose strings ached expertly over Cornell's acoustic strumming, while fellow guitarist Keaton Simons split the somber mood with a tasteful, delicate and quick-paced solo.
"Nothing Compares 2 U" is one of several covers Cornell has incorporated into the sets of his extensive acoustic tour, which began September 20th at Los Angeles' famed Walt Disney Concert Hall. Cornell has also performed U2's "One," John Lennon's "Imagine," Led Zeppelin's "Thank You," Bob Dylan's "The times They Are A-Changin'" and "I Threw It All Away," and, for good measure, Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria."
Otherwise, Cornell's acoustic shows have featured a wide array of tracks from throughout his career, mixing solo cuts with Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog favorites. The tour extends through October and ends November 2nd at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas.
Cornell also released a new album, Higher Truth, last week. Produced by Brendan O'Brien, the LP marks Cornell's first solo effort since his divisive foray into pop on 2009's Scream and finds the musician exploring his little-known folk influences.
"I rejected most of the folk I was exposed to in the Seventies," Cornell told Rolling Stone in a recent interview. "I came around later to Tom Waits, some parts of Jim Croce and a lot of Cat Stevens. One of the Robinson brothers from the Black Crowes turned me on to Nick Drake. I found a box set on vinyl and pretty much hated it — until I got to [1972's] Pink Moon. His guitar playing and the compositions are phenomenal."