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Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament: Chris Cornell Was the ‘Greatest Songwriter to Come Out of Seattle’

Jeff Ament / Chris Cornell
Mike Coppola / Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament has spoken out on the death of Chris Cornell, calling the late Soundgarden frontman, “The greatest songwriter to come out of Seattle.”

“If you look at his lyrics, he was obviously processing his pain and his depression and all those things,” Ament tells the podcast NBA Soundsystem. “I think that’s part of what people, myself included, responded to when he was singing. And then with the songwriting, he had that voice. There’s not too many people who had that many options with their voice. He could inhabit a lot of different characters with that voice.”

Ament played bass in Temple of the Dog, a one-off project Cornell put together in 1990 to pay tribute musically to Andrew Wood, the singer of Seattle band Mother Love Bone who died from a heroin overdose that same year. Along with fellow Pearl Jam member Stone Gossard, Ament was also in Mother Love Bone.

Guitarists Gossard and Mike McCready, with Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron on drums and a guest appearance by Eddie Vedder rounded out the Temple of the Dog lineup. Temple of the Dog released a self-titled album in 1991, but never toured until last year when they did a small run of shows in the States. Recently, Cornell expressed a desire to do more music under the moniker.

“Chris was the greatest songwriter to ever come out of Seattle,” Ament says. “I feel so lucky I got to be in a project with him and got to hang out with him and just witness his greatness.”

Ament’s high praise of Cornell goes on to compare him to another Seattle music legend. “Jimi Hendrix included, Chris was the greatest songwriter to ever come out of Seattle,” he says. “Hendrix could play the guitar like crazy, but Chris had the songwriting chops that we all sort of hope to get to…He had a way that he could wrap a melody around odd time signatures and weird parts and make them catchy. And he was a beautiful wordsmith.”

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