It's been a shock to the rock music system this Thursday as we process the sudden and untimely death of Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell. Cornell, who reportedly died Wednesday evening following a concert in Detroit, was only 52 years old. It's certainly heartbreaking and unfortunate to have lost a musician so talented at so young an age. His decades-long career as a solo artist as well as leader singer and guitarist for both Soundgarden and Audioslave means he leaves behind a massive body of work. However, in this sad moment, it might help fans to reflect on the music he left behind, and, more specifically, on one of his most underrated songs, the Casino Royale theme song "You Know My Name."
UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, the medical examiner has determined that Cornell committed suicide by hanging. E! News reports that the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office further explained that "a full autopsy report has not yet been completed."
EARLIER: According to The Guardian, "You Know My Name" helped launch a new era in the James Bond franchise. The theme song of any given Bond film has often become as well-known as the film it's attached to and indicative of what kind of film, thematically and aesthetically, audiences can expect. Despite the middling success of Casino Royale, there's no doubt the guitar-heavy "You Know My Name" helped to usher this new era of grittiness and greatness to the Bond franchise.
Admittedly, "You Know My Name" doesn't rank as high oftentimes as other more well-known Bond themes like "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey, or recent Oscar-winner "Skyfall" by Adele. But the power and intensity of "You Know My Name" is every bit as Bond as those songs. That's mostly thanks to the power of Cornell's voice. It's a wailing, vibrant voice, loaded with ferocity, and it could send a chill down your spine because it feels like Cornell is channeling this new Bond we meet in Casino Royale.
This particular song may not be the first song of the singer's that we think of (I'd argue that honor goes to "Black Hole Sun" or "Spoonman"), but it absolutely carries the signature of Cornell: rocking, rollicking, and bursting with energy. "You Know My Name" is definitely underrated, but it is nonetheless a truly great gem in Cornell's discography.