Including in David Kyle’s living room.
David Kyle was an eccentric, legendary, and sometimes gently perverted vocal teacher who lived on the water in West Seattle. He’d trained the biggest voices to come out of Seattle in decades, from bands like Heart and Queensryche and Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam.
That voice of Soundgarden had also sung a song called ‘Say Hello to Heaven’ for a side-project called Temple of The Dog. That incredible, indelible vocal performance, which began with the first line of Please Mother Mercy take me from this place, is why I showed up at David Kyle’s house one misty morning for my first voice lesson.
I sat in his entryway on a cracked leather couch and waited for what seemed like forever for him to emerge from somewhere in the back of the house, lumbering slowly with a cane, his mane of gray hair pulled loosely into a ponytail.
He took my hand limply and called me ‘dear boy’ and told me to sit down in the chair by the piano. And for the next hour, and then every other week for the next 3 years, he helped me find my own voice. And hope.
One morning I showed up for my lesson and no one answered the door.
David Kyle was gone.
This morning I woke up to learn that Soundgarden’s voice was gone, too.
Scenes of grit and triumph, disappointment and dreams flashed across my mind, from playing the same stages he played coming up, like the Central, from rites of passage like performing on legendary KEXP’s Live Room for the first time in the same studio he’d performed in, from the dirty gray that always seemed to hang over the alley behind the building where we practiced, where every band in town had practiced at some point, including his. And mine.
Scenes from trying to make it in a music world that he’d built, with his voice as a soundtrack. I wouldn’t have been in Seattle for the most formative decade in my life if that voice hadn’t exploded from the Pacific Northwest in the early 90’s.
And now he’s gone, like those scenes I sometimes try to hold onto that aren’t ever coming back.
I should just let them go.
Say hello to heaven, Chris Cornell.
And thank you.