I was stunned when I heard the news that Chester Bennington had died. I intended to write a quick message on Facebook about my feelings, once I had sorted them out, but that ‘quick message’ turned into this blog post once I got everything out. Linkin Park has been one of my favourite bands for over a decade now. I heard their song ‘Robot Boy’ almost four years ago and it became my favourite song of all time. I don’t know if the band plans on continuing without one of their main voices, but I know something great has been lost before its time.
I’m a fairly soft-spoken and calm individual. I think it surprises people to learn how much Linkin Park I listen to. The truth is I do have a lot of anger, angst and frustration inside. There’s been deep pain in my life that is difficult to understand or even know how to respond to. I’m not the kind of person to scream out my frustrations, but I’ve been through things where that kind of emotional response would seem appropriate. I don’t know how to do that though, or at least not how to do it well. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve needed Linkin Park over the years. It gave expression to feelings I didn’t know how to express. When I listen to Linkin Park, Chester screams on my behalf when I don’t know how. It gives me the freedom to acknowledge how dark things feel, without demanding that I respond in one way or another. It gives me permission to just feel how I feel.
Now I’m thinking of particular tracks, of course. There’s a division in their collection between songs that go to a dark place and stay there, and songs that start off in a dark place but show me a way out. ‘Robot Boy’ is one of the latter – and it’s those tracks that I tend to listen to the most. When I’m going through a true depression, the fix-it people (though well-meaning) will recommend pure feel-good songs to lift me up; but they don’t do it for me. A song can’t touch me if it never gets close. And songs that begin in the dark and stay there are not very helpful either. When I’m in a truly dark place, the only songs that help me are the ones that start in that darkness with me and show me a road out from there. The only really helpful songs are the ones that meet me where I’m at, but don’t let me stay there.
That’s what Linkin Park did for me. I hope the writers will continue to write. Whether the band continues with the same name or the members break off into different groups, I hope they won’t quite writing. People like me still need what they have to offer. Chester was unique, and even with another skilled lead singer, there will be something different and something missing without Chester. His trademark scream will live on in the songs already produced. I can only hope he’s screaming with angels now, (but I don’t know him well enough to say). Either way the echo won’t fade for a long time yet. The music is still too precious to me.
I felt I should end with a list of the Linkin Park songs that have meant the most to me over the years as they gave context and expression to the feelings I had at the time but couldn’t grasp. This may be the best and simplest way of saying “thank-you; this is what your work meant to me.”
‘Points of Authority’
‘Waiting for the End’