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Chris Cornell Performs ‘The Promise’ on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’

Chris Cornell performed his new solo track “The Promise” last night (April 19) on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The song was composed for the film of the same name, which hits theaters tomorrow. Written and directed by Terry George and starring Christian Bale and Oscar Issac, The Promise is a love story set during the Armenian Genocide in the early 1900’s as the Ottoman Empire was entering its final years.

Eric Esrailian, a producer on the film and friend of Cornell, approached the Soundgarden frontman about doing a song that would play over the end credits. In an interview with Billboard this week, the singer described how he immersed himself in the darkness of the period by watching a documentary on the Armenian Genocide which left him with “daymares.” Part of his inspiration came from photos featured in the documentary of those who fled the region with their loved ones.

“I’m not sure how conscious I was of it, but I’d been so moved by photographs being taken over things they needed to survive,” Cornell says. “I’m always looking for the person that sings the song, and it’s never really me. Even if I’m writing a song that’s about me, it’s always someone else. I imagined this young man singing the song to a photo of his father or grandfather about the inspiration that he was and rededicating himself to persevering against whatever odds there might be. In the case of the genocide, it was horrendous.”

Writing the “The Promise” was also a way for Cornell to attempt to bridge the gap between history and present day. “I’d love to be able to have the effect of [the song] not just represent a century ago, but bring it into now,” he says. “When people get done watching the film, rather than think, ‘Wow, what a horrendous thing that happened a century ago,’ realize that it is happening now, realize the film [is] telling a true story and you’re seeing how it was created. And the fact that those warning signs are pretty much always the same leading up to a genocide. We have the ability as a global community to pre-empt that, if we’re paying attention and we’re not allowing our leaders to politicize it and get away with it. It’s the goal of everyone in the film that it’s representative of the past, but it’s also exposing the present.”

The Promise
hits theaters this week.

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