As I sit here, on the eve of my birthday, I am confronted with my mortality as I continue to process the loss of someone I never met, but yet has always been part of and played a huge part in my life.
On the 20th of July 2017, we lost one of the most inspirational musicians of our time. Chester Bennington, the front man of Linkin Park, was found dead in his home in Palos Verdes, CA.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a fan of Linkin Park. From the moment I heard Crawling, I knew that I had discovered something special.
“There’s something inside me that pulls beneath the surface… consuming, confusing…”
The mix between Mike Shinoda’s introspective rapping and Chester’s sharp, clear, tortured voice echoing in defiant agony was something I had never really heard. Before I knew it, songs like Lying From You, By Myself, With You, Breaking The Habit, Forgotten, Numb etc etc became permanently etched in my brain.
“I dont know whats worth fighting for, or why I have to scream.
I dont know why I instigate and say what I dont mean.
I dont know how I got this way, I know its not alright…
so Im breaking the habit… Im breaking the habit, tonight.”
As a fan of both rock & hip hop, Linkin Park was like a dream come true in terms of musical sound. But not only that, their music was therapeutic. To kids who grew up in a broken home, felt different and just felt generally misunderstood, Chester, Mike and LP became the voice that many never had. They always knew how you were feeling. They always knew how to help you deal.
“I cant hold on! Its all too much to take in.
I cant hold on… with thoughts of failure sinking in.”
It is thus quite a bitter pill to swallow when one realizes that the reason Chester could resonate with so many was that he was exorcising his own demons in his music and it was because of this that his music was so empowering.
“What I’ve done!
I face myself, to cross out what I’ve become!
Erase myself and let go of what I’ve done.”
There is so much to say and so many ways that Chester’s voice was more than just music. I can only imagine how many people who’s lives were saved listening to his voice. I can only make a weak attempt at guessing what kind of impact he had on the lives of the disaffected youth of our generation.
“Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure’s all you’ve known.
Remember all the sadness and frustration…
and let it go. Let it go.”
Its hard to explain just what Linkin Park and therefore Chester meant to me… but I can honestly say that they are my absolute favorite band. They were the Stone Temple Pilots, the Soundgarden, the U2, the Nirvana, of our generation. They are a piece of my history, part of the tapestry of my mind and I dont think I will quite get over this tragic loss.
“It’s true the way I feel, was promised by your face.
The sound of your voice, painted on my memories…
even if you’re not with me, I’m with you!
You, now I see keeping everything inside.
You, now I see even when I close my eyes…”
And as a rock fan, over the years I have heard a lot of people say a lot of things about Linkin Park. They were never metal enough. They were never grunge enough. They were too adventurous. Too mainstream. Sellouts…
But what was always undeniable was the talent they had. Whether the frankness of their music left you uneasy or the scope of their popularity made you angry, the fact of the matter is everyone leaned on Linkin Park when they felt alone. When the walls in our castles of glass began to crack and shatter, it was Chester that helped you come to terms.
“I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there.
Become so tired, so much more aware.
I’m becoming this, all I want to do,
is be more like me and be less like you.”
So I can not put into words how happy it has made me to see the outpouring of love and grief in the entire Rock & Roll fraternity and the music industry as a whole for Chester. However its sad that people are only validated in the end.
“The light on the horizon was brighter yesterday
With shadows floating over, the scars begin to fade
We said it was forever, but then it slipped away
Standing at the end of the final masquerade”
One of Linkin Parks most poignant songs, In The End, like many others talks about how Chester felt that regardless of how hard he tried, in the end it would not matter to anyone. Perhaps he felt at times that he didn’t matter to anyone. For those who have never had to deal with the downsides of life, it would probably not make sense how one could feel like no-one…
“I tried do hard and got so far… but in the end, it doesn’t even matter!
I had to fall, to lose it all… but in the end it doesn’t even matter.”
But the reality is that it did matter Chester. To me. To Mike. To Joe. To Rob. To Brad. To Dave. It fucking mattered to Talinda and the kids… you mattered to us, every single life you touched with your light.
So all I can say is thank you. Thank you for the music Chester. Thank you for the memories and the inspiration. Thank you for your courage and your honesty. Thank you for getting me out of my teenage years alive. I owe you an un-payable debt and I will never forget you man. You will always have a special place in my heart.
“When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some, reasons to be missed.
And don’t resent me, when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory. Leave out all the rest…
Leave out all the rest”
Rest in peace Chester Bennington. Your voice will echo in my head and in time for eternity.