Remembering when Chris Cornell mashed up U2 song ‘One’ with Metallica’s ‘One’
Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell is a much-missed talent who sadly left us behind in 2017 after he took his own life. Here, we have had a dig around in the Far Out archives and stumbled upon footage from one of his solo shows where he mashed up Metallica’s One with U2 song ‘One’ which epitomised his free-flowing genius.
In 2011, Cornell hit the road for his Songbook Tour which saw him perform acoustic versions of solo material as well as numbers by both Audioslave and Soundgarden. However, Cornell also made sure to change up the setlist on a nightly basis by throwing in covers of whatever took his fancy on any given evening.
His decision to mash up Metallica and U2 was unexpected, to say the least. With the two tracks not sharing anything in common apart from the title name, Cornell still somehow managed to make it work. The decision to do his unique combination was all a happy accident and the story of how the unique cover came to be is just as brilliant as Cornell’s version itself.
“A few years ago, I was going to do ‘One’ by U2 — I Googled the lyrics, but the words to Metallica’s ‘One’ came up,” he told IndyStar in 2016. “I thought, ‘You know what, I’m gonna add those,’ and it seemed to work pretty seamlessly. Those are things that, when I’m doing a cover song, maybe goes some degree beyond what you’d expect. And that’s just me having fun.”
At a 2015 show in York, Pennsylvania, Cornell detailed even more about how the cover came to be, disclosing that he had been shocked to Google “‘One’ lyrics” and start reading what he thought would be Bono’s lyrics which stunned him into thinking: “That shit was dark. I realised the most-Googled song lyrics entitled ‘One’ were actually not U2’s, they were Metallica,” he said. “So I just thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll just do it that way, ’cause that’s a great song, too.’”
The late Soundgarden man then began strumming his acoustic guitar and started singing James Hetfield’s lyrics about a man who stepped on a landmine and was placed on life support. However, put to Bono’s melody and the Irishman’s lyrics tells a very different story to Metallica’s.
Following Cornell’s untimely death, both U2 and Metallica played tribute to the late singer with Bono dedicating ‘Running to Stand Still’ to him at their Rose Bowl concert a week after his death, with the frontman introducing the song by calling Cornell a “lion” and a “beautiful, sweet soul” before launching into the 1987 track.
In 2019, Metallica took to the stage at I Am the Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell which benefited the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation and the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation.