Let’s get real for a minute. By now, we’ve all heard the news: Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, has died (especially considering the bulk of this post has been sitting in my notebook since the morning after the news broke.) Maybe he wasn’t an Elvis, or a Prince, but his passing was enough to rock a generation- my generation.
I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot of celebrities I will mourn over in my life. I’m not the girl who follows the gossip columns, the fan that can tell you the who-what-when of an artist’s private life. I haven’t been since I was a tween obsessing over the latest teen beat magazine.
I grew up.
Linkin Park was a crucial part of that growing up.
It was during my most formative years when Hybrid Theory dropped. I was a girl who was struggling and these incredible songs spoke to me in a way nothing else had, a way that nothing else could.
How many of you know who Reggie Dabbs is? I’ll go ahead and assume not many. For reference, he’s a motivational speaker. I was lucky enough to go to an event he was holding during my high school years. During this event, he used current hits to get his point across for the youth that was his audience. I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with Linkin Park and the passing of an amazing vocalist. I’m getting there.
“In The End” was one of the songs that was used during this motivational event. I’d loved the song since I’d first heard it. I probably couldn’t name more than two songs that played during this event, but the skit that accompanied this tune was so powerful. It was like everything I was feeling in the deepest most secret parts of my soul was being acted out right in front of me. I seriously had chills. This song meant something to me before, but seeing it right out in the open, resonating with so many was incredible.
People’s lives were touched by the music created by this band.
Their struggles became my hope.
When Meteora was released, the music once again resonated with me on an intimate level. Still struggling, still trying to maintain, still seeking that hope that I knew was out there that I just couldn’t grasp. I felt every chord, every lyric. It was my own, personal brand of therapy and I’m sure many would agree. In fact, seeing so many memorial posts after this tragedy, I know the above statement is true, and many were struggling with completely unrelated issues. With tracks like “Somewhere I Belong” and “Numb” topping the charts, it’s no wonder these songs resonated with teenagers across the board. It was “Easier to Run” that topped the CD’s track list for me, though, and listening to Chester with such emotion in his voice as he sang each word… Nothing could compare.
Minutes to Midnight marked a change in the band’s sound. They had grown, the substance of their art became more mature. I, too, was maturing. With politically motivated tracks like “No More Sorrow” and “Hands Held High” they were showing that they stood for something, and that something they stood for was something I had been increasingly passionate about. They sparked into the conversation of current events with “The Little Things Give You Away.” They were broadening their horizons, taking all that angst and putting into something that mattered. With tracks from this album also gracing soundtracks for Transformers and the Twilight Saga, they continued to stay on top. Even with their maturing subject matter and hits finding a new outlet, tracks like “Bleed It Out” could have been found on any of their albums. It was a throwback for me with the way the lyrics resonated. It seemed a throwback for them as well “F- this hurts, I won’t lie, It doesn’t matter how hard I try.” Ring a bell, anyone?
Over the years, admittedly, I haven’t followed any bands like I did back in the day. I heard a few singles on the radio, after a time had passed. I had become a mom. My focused had shifted. Following bands, even the ones that had helped shape me, became something that was so low on the totem pole. I still felt the same awe when I would hear a new song, I still connected with the music.
By the time their last album dropped, I was in a place where I not only had the time to listen to music of my choice, but also the need. I sought out the band that had been there for me in my adolescence. What I heard wasn’t as hardcore as their first couple of albums, but the woman I am now, was once again touched by the words and melodies I heard. The passion they felt was still there and I felt it. I was moved until my eyes were glossed over with tears.
I was changed.
I read an article the other day, talking about life long fans who had booed this incredible band off the stage because they didn’t like the new direction the band was taking. This broke my heart more than it already was. There was a video included of the aforementioned event taking place. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. How could people who claimed to be fans be so cruel? I only wish I had been lucky enough to have seen them live.
Linkin Park took us all on a journey. They evolved as people, a fact that can be seen through the evolution of their music. They played what they were passionate about. They poured out their souls for the masses. The first time I heard “Heavy” I literally felt my heart shattering in my chest and mending itself back together.
To those who feel like they drifted too far from the hybrid sound they started their journey with, I pity you. “One More Light” was never about selling out. The lyrics speak for themselves, and they speak directly to my soul. It’s an incredibly heavy album. I’ve been changed once again by these incredible musicians. They’ve always been there, just a few clicks a way.
In the end, they should know, IT DID MATTER. Linkin Park saved me. They continue to save me.
R.I.P. Chester. Your memory will live on within your powerful vocals and all the lives you touched.