Taylor Momsen Reflects On Chris Cornell’s Suicide And Whether It Was A Result Of Making Music
The Pretty Reckless frontwoman Taylor Momsen was recently the guest of Mistress Carrie’s podcast during which she opened up about how hard songwriting is while discussing the emotional value of each song and how musicians cope with channeling their vulnerability to their lyrics.
Taylor Momsen is one of the most well-known frontpeople in the contemporary rock scene and she achieved worldwide fame as the co-founder and lead vocalist of The Pretty Reckless. The band had released their latest album ‘Who You Selling For’ in 2016 but took a five-year break following Chris Cornell‘s and their long-time producer Kato Khandwala’s passing.
These unfortunate deaths were very traumatic for Momsen who had to cope with grief and heartbreak which prevented her from even listening to music. However, when she got back to music, all her feelings were turned into songs, which is the story behind the band’s latest album ‘Death By Rock and Roll’ which was released in February and debuted at No. 1 in ten countries on iTunes and Amazon Music.
During her recent interview, Mistress Carrie initiated a conversation on the emotional value of a song. She said that musicians like Taylor Momsen and Chris Cornell pour their thoughts and most vulnerable feelings in their lyrics which makes their work personal. Thus, putting it in a record to be ‘consumed’ by fans and then revisiting those feelings every night on stage might be triggering.
To this, Taylor responded by saying that she makes music for herself and she needs to do this as it’s part of her identity. For instance, when she stopped listening to music after her traumatizing experiences, she got lost and felt full only when she got back into music. However, she agreed that it’s a very weird process to finish a song as you get the urge to release it.
Even though it seems like a ‘natural progression,’ it also feels like ‘giving a piece of yourself away.’ Then the songwriter needs to go through the process of self-reflection as you need to find a way to fill that hole that has been created. As for the ‘reliving’ of those emotions during live performances, Momsen said that it’s a very different mindset and that it’s often not as challenging.
Taylor Momsen responded to this question during her recent interview with the following words:
“I make music for myself, I write songs for me because I need to, it’s, it’s my identity, it’s who I am. Like, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t and I think that’s why when I shut music out of my life, for a while there, I became very, very lost and when I found it again, I started to feel full again, I guess.
So, it’s a very bizarre thing, making a record. Because, you know, as soon as you finish writing the song, you take a step back from it, it’s a good song, I mean, you write a lot of bad songs in between, when you write something that’s good, you then want to go make it, you want to record it.
Then once it’s recorded, and it’s finished, and it’s good, you want to share it, you know, it’s kind of just the natural progression of things, you want people to hear it. But it is a strange thing to put, you know, music out into the world, especially when it’s so personal, that you’re kind of giving a piece of yourself away, in a sense.”
She went on to say:
“It can sometimes leave you with this very weird feeling like, you know, when you put out the record, it’s very exciting, you know, and, and all and all the positive sides of things. But you know, it also leaves you kind of empty, because it’s suddenly, like, you spent so much time slaving over this, you know, the songs in this album and everything that goes along with that and as soon as you release it into the world, it doesn’t belong to you anymore.
You know, it’s I always say it’s kind of like a child. I mean, I don’t have kids, but I assume that that’s kind of the same feeling of like sending a kid off to college or something and going like, Well, I hope I raised you well, like, see you later and so it’s kind of like giving a piece of yourself away because it’s not yours anymore. It doesn’t, it doesn’t belong to me anymore. It belongs to the world and the listeners. So that’s kind of always a strange feeling, because you’re left kind of empty, and you have to figure out how to fill up that that hole because you just gave a whole piece of yourself away.
And it’s like, ‘Okay, well, who am I now?’ and so it comes self-reflection and discovery of yourself, every time you do that. And I think with this album, in particular, I didn’t, I didn’t really think that playing the songs live is is actually not sometimes you know, songs hit hard, and you kind of leave sometimes you can break down or, you know, it kind of depends on the day.
But when you’re touring, you’re on stage, and you’re performing and you’re in a different mindset, you’re not, you know, you’re not necessarily reliving the songs that deeply I mean, you feel them, but you’re not, you’re not living that same life at that moment, you know. So, you know, you’re entertained or you’re performing, it’s a different mindset.”
Chris Cornell was one of the most appreciated songwriters in rock history and it’s widely known that he used music to channel his emotions. Thus, this process of creating a song by exposing his vulnerable sides might have been difficult for Cornell who was already struggling with depression. Nonetheless, Momsen’s words reflect that it is a good form of self-realization and actualization.