Who and what is Audioslave’s song “Cochise” about?
Contrary to rumor, Cochise was not one of the Sweathogs on Welcome Back, Kotter. He was a charismatic Chircahua Apache war chief born in 1812. In 1861, he and five other Apaches were wrongly accused by a US Army second lieutenant of abducting a ten-year-old boy from an Arizona ranch. Told that he was being held hostage until the boy was returned, Cochise escaped by cutting through the side of a tent. After the Army hung their Apache captives, Cochise waged guerrilla war against the United States until 1872. (When he died in 1874, Geronimo became chief of the Chircahua Apaches.) There’s no reference to Cochise in the lyrics of the Audioslave song, which were written by Chris Cornell; he told me the hectoring song is “Me yelling at me, looking in the mirror.” The title, however, came from guitarist Tom Morello. “At the time we were working on the song, I was reading a couple of biographies of Cochise,” Morello said to me. “The name refers to the warpath-like vibe of the music. Cochise declared war on the Southwest–you drop the needle on the track and feel that vibe.”
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)