Sonic Therapy

a soulful reflection on Audioslave's 'Be Yourself' Dispatch #4

My Friend,

In 6 short hours, I'll be soaring through the sky on my way to Croatia for some R&R. Now, picture this: sun-drenched beaches, crystal-clear Adriatic waters, and me basking in the glorious Mediterranean sun. That was the dream, at least. Turns out, the weather gods have a different plan for Brač Island—apparently, it's not exactly beach bumming weather, more like a "bring-a-jacket" kind of situation. Not quite the tropical escape I envisioned, but hey, that's life!

So, with a quick mental shuffle, I've rebranded this trip into a "relax, read, and write" retreat. Think sunshine, seclusion, and swapping the beach for a comfy hammock with a good book in one hand and a pen in the other.

But before I disappear into a blissful world of literature and self-expression, allow me to unleash my inner Lester Bangs for a moment. There's this incredible song, a true gem on my playlist, that I want to share with you. It's a guaranteed mood booster and the perfect soundtrack for kicking off this adventure.

Imagine this: You're cruising down the road, the radio a constant hum of background noise as you flip through stations with a bored flick of your thumb. Suddenly, a song explodes from the speakers—a sonic boom that shatters the monotony. It's like the radio itself has come alive, the static clearing to reveal a powerful, gripping melody. That's exactly what happened to me with Audioslave's "Be Yourself." The very first note grabbed me by the ears and refused to let go!

The song transcended mere entertainment for me. It morphed into a potent declaration of individuality, powerfully conveyed through the aggressive rock riffs of Thomas Morello, the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Chris Cornell, and the captivating drum and bass interplay of Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford.

It wasn't just the melody or the lyrics, though they were undeniably powerful. It was something deeper, a primal awakening. It felt like the song ripped through the layers of personas I wear every day—the polite one, the funny one, the strong one. All the masks I use to navigate the world just started to melt away.

This song demanded authenticity. It was a call to shed the facades and confront the person staring back at me in the mirror. It was a raw, unfiltered look at my core, the me beneath all the masks. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but also exhilarating, and utterly necessary. In that moment, I craved a brutal honesty, a stripping away of pretence to confront the essence of who I truly am.

The world feels like a firehose of information these days. Opinions blast you from social media, news outlets, and even strangers on the street. It's a constant barrage, a cacophony of voices all vying for your attention. And amidst this noise, a subtle pressure creeps in—the pressure to conform, to fit some mould that others have crafted for you. It's easy to get swept away in this current, to lose sight of your own voice, and to start questioning the reflection staring back at you in the mirror. Is that truly you, or just a patchwork of what you think you're supposed to be?

Then, "Be Yourself" rips through the confusion like a lightning bolt. It's a raw, electric explosion of sound, a sonic middle finger to the pressure to fit in. The song channels the raw energy of grunge, a genre that was all about embracing your flaws and screaming your truth to the world. It's a jolt to the system, a wake-up call that yanks you back from the brink of losing yourself in the noise. With every distorted guitar riff and Chris Cornell's soaring vocals, "Be Yourself" reminds you that you don't need to be anyone but who you are.

The song opens with a gut punch, a series of stark images:

Someone falls to pieces
Sleeping all alone
Someone kills the pain
Spinning in the silence
She finally drifts away

These aren't feel-good lyrics, but they paint a brutally honest picture—the internal battles we all fight in the dead of night. Those nights when sleep eludes you and you're left grappling with your thoughts in the lonely silence. The song doesn't shy away from the darkness. It dives headfirst into the confusion and pain that often come with the search for who you truly are. This quest for self-discovery isn't always a walk in the park. There are dark roads, like the one I've found myself on more than a few times. It's a road paved with highs and lows, victories and defeats. And sometimes, in the deepest valleys of those lows, it feels like you might never find your way back to the light.

The song then throws you a lifeline, a simple but powerful line from Chris Cornell: "To be yourself is all that you can do." It's a revelation disguised in its simplicity. We spend so much time chasing fleeting ideals and the ever-shifting expectations of others that we lose sight of our own value. "Be Yourself" is more than a song; it's a permission slip, a rebellion against the pressure to conform. It's a call to shed those expectations and embrace the beautiful mess, the glorious imperfection that defines who you are.

This notion of vulnerability strikes a deep chord with me. Coming from a place and time where stoicism was king, I was conditioned to never let them see you sweat, never let them see you cry. "Suck it up, be a man!" That was the truth I was expected to swallow whole. But "Be Yourself" offers a different kind of truth—a recognition that our flaws, our vulnerabilities, are the very threads of our humanity. It's in embracing these imperfections that we discover our authenticity and our strength.

"Be Yourself" goes beyond just self-acceptance. It tackles the courage it takes to navigate the whirlwind of life's experiences.

The lyrics perfectly capture this duality:

Someone gets excited in a chapel yard
And catches a bouquet
Another lays a dozen
White roses on a grave

In a few short lines, the song paints a vivid picture of life's highs and lows—the joyous celebrations and the gut-wrenching losses. These experiences, both positive and negative, shape who we are.

And that's where Chris Cornell's voice becomes even more powerful. We know his own life was steeped in personal struggles and moments of artistic triumph. He wasn't singing empty platitudes; he was belting out a message drenched in experience. His vocals carry the weight of someone who's stared darkness in the face and emerged stronger. "Be Yourself" transforms into a beacon of hope, a testament to the resilience forged in the fires of adversity. It's a message for anyone lost in the storm, a reminder that you can find your way through and that authenticity is the guiding light on that journey. 1

In a world obsessed with highlight reels and the pressure to be a follower, not a leader, "Be Yourself" explodes like a sonic Molotov cocktail. The song's not some gentle nudge; it's a full-on rebellion, a battle cry for authenticity in a sea of curated online personas.

The repeated refrain, "Be Yourself," transforms into a call to arms, a rallying cry for individuality. It shatters the illusion of perfection we're bombarded with daily and reminds us that true value doesn't come from squeezing ourselves into some prefabricated mould. It doesn't come from blending into the background noise of the crowd. Real worth, genuine connection—that comes from embracing the beautiful mess that makes you, you.

It's about owning your quirks, your flaws, and your passions—the things that set you apart from the Instagram echo chamber. In a world obsessed with following the crowd, "Be Yourself" is a middle finger to conformity, a declaration that you were born to stand out, not fit in.

"Be Yourself" is ultimately a declaration of peace. It's about the liberation that comes from shedding the shackles of other people's expectations and judgements. It's about finally silencing the inner critic and trusting the path your own heart has chosen.

The song lays bare the exhaustion of constantly chasing an impossible ideal. Chris Cornell sings:

Even when you've paid enough
Been pulled apart
Or been held up
Every single memory of
The good or bad, faces of love
Don’t lose sleep tonight
I’m sure everything will end up alright

It's a powerful image—the weight of the past, both positive and negative, expectations fulfilled and burdens endured, all accumulating into a stifling pressure. "Be Yourself" urges us to let go of that burden, to finally exhale and embrace the peace that comes with accepting ourselves, flaws and all.

This peace isn't about passive resignation. It's about the quiet strength that emerges from self-acceptance. It's the freedom to pursue your passions without fear of judgement and to live authentically without needing validation from others. It's the understanding that your worth isn't defined by external metrics but by the unique experiences that make you who you are.

So, as I head off on my Croatian adventure, "Be Yourself" serves as a powerful reminder. It's a call to embrace the sunshine and solitude, to shed the masks, and to write my own story. It's a promise to find peace in the journey of self-discovery, wherever that journey may lead.

Oh, and Bruce Springsteen was right—you can learn a lot from a 3-minute record. 😀

Peace and love,

  1. The irony is not lost on me. Sadly, Chris Cornell goes on to eventually commit suicide at age 52. Get help, even if you don’t think you need it.