Like many rock fans, I’ve liked Audioslave’s song “Doesn’t Remind Me” since it came out in 2005. The lyrics didn’t fully resonate with me until I heard it again last fall – AKA one year sober. In the song, Chris Cornell sings about finding pleasure in mundane activities to avoid thinking about the heavier things in life. I can definitely relate. For me, a life of sobriety means being tuned into reality more than I’ve ever been before – and it sucks sometimes.
It means cringing when I see a picture of myself drunk or high, because it reminds me of the depression and anxiety I was avoiding when that photo was taken. It means avoiding dating, because I’m terrified to find out if I’m still a needy, emotionally unstable girlfriend. It means feeling embarrassed when a conversation about history comes up, because it reminds me that I partied too hard to learn anything in high school, getting expelled after nearly overdosing on Xanax in class. These painful memories make me grateful for the menial tasks in life because I don’t have to think about them.
The lyrical structure of “Doesn’t Remind Me” follows a basic formula: “I like ______ ’cause it doesn’t remind me of anything”. Cornell sings these lines in a calm, melodic manner, letting the listener relax with him as he lists the things he likes to do.
“I like colorful clothing in the sun
Cause it doesn’t remind me of anything
I like hammering nails and speaking in tongues
Cause it doesn’t remind me of anything”
For the chorus, Cornell breaks the melodic pattern to deliver his iconic raspy scream. This scream takes the listener to a more heightened state of emotion while Cornell alludes to how he was hurt in the past:
“The things that I’ve loved the things that I’ve lost
The things I’ve held sacred that I’ve dropped
I won’t lie nor more than you can bet
I don’t want to learn what I’ll need to forget”
This is a song about being hurt so badly that he finds comfort in day to day activities because they don’t trigger any painful memories.
I don’t know what Cornell went through; I can only speak on what I’ve been through. It’s just too much to think about sometimes. I appreciate this song because it DOES remind me that I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed by the past.
I quit drinking 6 months after moving to New York City and I, too, have grown to find comfort in the mundane. Taking the long way to work, checking train schedules, eating at the same few restaurants, and going home right after work have become the humble activities I like most. Because they don’t remind me of anything.