A Farewell to Chester Bennington

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I grew up on Linkin Park; it was almost inevitable in the late 90s and early 2000s. For those of us born around the year 1990 who gravitated toward heavy music, Linkin Park was inescapable – and not in a bad way. My young memories, during a formative age, consist of myriad great and low moments, all coupled with my Hybrid Theory CD. Small wonder, then, I feel so gutted at the untimely death of Chester Bennington.

I was raised in a conservative Christian home; my dad was the pastor of a protestant church. Our music was strictly regulated, and while I would often sneak burned CD’s into my discman I knew I wasn’t allowed, Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory was one of the few albums I was allowed to own legitimately (they never swore). I still remember my father’s comment about the album: “It’s all depressing, but if that’s what you want to listen to, it’s fine.” In hindsight, his words carry more weight than I could have known.

My first introduction to Linkin Park came even earlier. My church’s youth leader loaned my brothers and I Hybrid Theory – he was in the habit of loaning us albums we couldn’t afford (see the above “preacher” note; we had little money). At the time, I was yearning for the heaviest music I could find (the benefit of the internet didn’t exist at that time, and we couldn’t have afforded it if it did), and bands like Linkin Park, P.O.D., and Limp Bizkit were scratching the itch. I devoured Hybrid Theory; it’s hard to say if there’s an album I know more intimately. To this day, I can sing along with every song, every lyric – most I can even jam along with on guitar.

It was the soundtrack to my grade 7; during the summers preceding and following, I remember playing certain songs on repeat while attending the high school (so cool!) basketball camp. I listened to it while at my cousin’s place, playing Super Mario Bros; I listened to it most days on the way to school during my hour long, rural bus ride. Never did I find it depressing, though the lyrical content was introspective and bleak. It inspired me – it made me feel full, complete. Heavy music spoke to me in a way that nothing else at the time did, and Linkin Park was at the top of my list.

Fast forward too few years: July 20, 2017. My post-college metal had band covered a Linkin Park song for fun. I’d written an article about the merits of Reanimation. And Chester Bennington hangs himself, seemingly out of the blue. My adult self, coupled with my young self, is surprisingly devastated. Why? I haven’t been a fan of Linkin Park for years, preferring occasional singles and a revisit to their early work to anything produced within the last ten years. Yet I’ve never lost the childhood affinity I felt for Linkin Park; if they weren’t a part of my life, doubtless I would not be the person I am now. A piece of who I am has irrevocably changed; to say nothing for the people directly affected by Bennington’s untimely death.

What can I say that hasn’t been already said a million times, and better? Suicide is one of the saddest things in the world. It would be easy to discuss Linkin Park lyrics in retrospect, analysing their obvious exploration of depression from the beginning of Linkin Park’s career to the present day; yet I am reminded of childhood me, listening to the words my father labelled “depressing” – these words were not the words of depression, but of overcoming. Exploring the dark side of modern life, coping with the existential inanity of our so-called “first-world-problems” gave me hope as a young man. I wasn’t alone; none of us were alone. My heroes experienced the same sadness, the same uncertainty, the same confusion. It’s a curious juxtaposition, to be sure. Were I able to explain the hopefulness found in bleak art and its positive impact on the individual, doubtless this article would be much deeper. As it stands, it’s simply a child shocked at the loss of a hero.

A friend of mine and I were discussing Bennington’s death, and both of us remarked how surprised we were at how deeply it affected us. The childhood impact of music lives intangibly in the adult; another testament to the importance of art during the individual’s young years. I’ve been playing Hybrid Theory on repeat for the past few days, and while the music has definitely changed in my adult mind, the inner child who lives strong in my being is transported to those early days, hoping, continuing, stronger because of this music that touched my life at the right time in the right place. And for that child, I thank Chester Bennington; I hope he has found peace.

WHAT IS A POET? AN UNHAPPY MAN WHO HIDES DEEP ANGUISH IN HIS HEART, BUT WHOSE LIPS ARE SO FORMED THAT WHEN THE SIGH AND CRY PASS THROUGH THEM, IT SOUNDS LIKE LOVELY MUSIC . . . AND PEOPLE FLOCK AROUND THE POET AND SAY: ‘SING AGAIN SOON’ – THAT IS, ‘MAY NEW SUFFERINGS TORMENT YOUR SOUL BUT YOUR LIPS BE FASHIONED AS BEFORE, FOR THE CRY WOULD ONLY FRIGHTEN US, BUT THE MUSIC, THAT IS BLISSFUL.’ — SØREN KIERKEGAARD

 


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  • KJM, Anla’Shok

    I was already in my early 30s so I had no special “link” to this band. I just remember hearing In The End EVERYWHERE in the days following 9/11/01. I think it was on the infamous Clear Channel “banned songs” playlist that no one paid attention to.

    • Óðinn

      Yeah, gotta admit that this band is mostly off my radar. Sorry to hear the dude died though.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      I knew that song had gotten out of hand when I heard my rock music hating mother singing it while preparing dinner

      • KJM, Anla’Shok

        Wanna talk out of hand? My Mom, who raised me on street corner Doo-Wop, Billie Holiday, and Soul/R&B, is a RABID Ghost fan. She likes them more than I do.

  • I would be lying if I wasn’t to say that I have had a number of those tunes from Hybrid Theory stuck in my head the last few days. Definitely a bummer.

    GL

  • I never really listened to Linkin Park. I was a fundamentalist Baptist by the time Hybrid Theory came out, with big dreams of going to Bible college (which I did). By the time I de-converted (2008-ish), I picked up where I had left off, metal-wise, with In Flames, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, etc.

    Over the past year or so, a series of stressors, mostly financial but some personal and self-inflicted, have made me daydream about how nice it would be to be rich, and how it would make all my anxiety and depression go away. But then Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, both presumably well off financially, both show me once again that mo’ money can mean mo’ problems, or at least the exact same problems us regulars have. It’s a tragic reminder to me to be grateful that I have things as good as I actually do.

    • KJM, Anla’Shok

      No matter how much you have or how far you go, you can’t run away from yourself.

    • Howard Dean

      I am fascinated by people who are trained as pastors/preachers (i.e. heavily involved in fundamentalist education) who then go a very different route later on. Sam Kinison’s story is one of my favorites. Pretty wild stuff.

      • I got involved in a fundamentalist church by way of becoming born again for a girl (pastor’s daughter), haha. But my, I dunno, addictive personality made me dive in head first and take things really seriously. I ended up moving to SC, doing two degrees at Bob Jones University (BA in Bible, MA in Theology), and marrying/later divorcing said girl. If I could do it all over again I’d absolutely do things completely different but I can’t time travel, yet anyway, so fuck it, ya know?

        • Howard Dean

          Whoa, crazy (but cool) story. I can’t say the younger version of myself wouldn’t have done the same thing if I fell head over heels for a girl.

          Hormones are a helluva drug.

        • Óðinn

          Jesus. I’m sorry that happened to you. My condolences.

          I know Bob Jones University is real in the sense that it exists, but is properly accredited in any way? Or does it just teach lies?

          • When I attended (2002 – 2007) it was entirely unaccredited in any meaningful sense. It had accreditation through some Christian accrediting body, but it wasn’t recognized by any of the real ones. So when I moved back to Canada and did my nursing degree, they didn’t even consider accepting any of my BJU credits; I might as well have had degrees from Burger King.

            As of very recently, though, they are fully accredited because they realized they had to in order to survive, since their enrollment has been steadily declining and they need to stay competitive. They do teach Six Day Creationism, that the Earth is ~6,000-10,000 years old (I took a Geology course once where this was the basic premise of the entire curriculum), that anyone who is not born again is going to hell (this includes people of all non-Christian religions and MOST Christian denominations), etc. The place is beyond fucked up. But Liberty University and a few other totally insane schools have full accreditation and teach at least some of the same crazy shit, so I guess it’s permitted somehow for religious schools to be accredited and also teach that evolution is one of Satan’s biggest lies.

            And yes, it’s very cult-like. They have lots of regular degrees like nursing and education and business, but the indoctrination is a huge part of the education there too, i.e. daily chapel attendance, mandatory theology classes for all students, mandatory nightly prayer groups for all dorm students.

          • Óðinn

            Thanks, Positronic Brain. I’m a strong believer in a quality post-secondary education, so I was curious what the actual quality of a strict Christian university. Sounds like there is a lot of room for improvement. It’s good that they’ve sought out out proper accreditation though, even if it was for more practical financial reasons. It sounds like, in the end, you ended up with degree in nursing that you’ve put to good use.

      • KJM, Anla’Shok

        William Peter Blatty(The Exorcist) is my favorite example.

        • Hmm, didn’t know this, or the Kinison thing. Gonna have to do some wiki research!

          • KJM, Anla’Shok

            Blatty had some serious Jesuit education(Brooklyn Prepatory among others).

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I was put in CCD and did church camps for years and I go to church weekly but my parents never forced me to become a priest.

        • KJM, Anla’Shok

          I had to do fucking CCD when I was in boarding school(aka HELL).
          They were so fucking insidious “memorize the verses and we’ll give you CHOCOLATE!!!”, brainwashing me and feeding me crap. This school took gov’t money and then went and pushed this crap on us.

          • BobLoblaw

            Job Corp does the same exact thing. Fucking disgusting.

          • Óðinn

            That is disgusting. Christianity and the Republican Party are the biggest threats to America.

          • BobLoblaw

            ALL religion is a threat to reason. They are ALL disgusting means of control. I get Republicans certainly have their fare share of terrible people but you dont have to look too long across the aisle to see a different side of the same coin.

          • Óðinn

            No doubt. I’m a staunch atheist. I’m just referring to our current situation in America. Zoroastrianism isn’t really a problem right now (for example). I see the Republican Party as a morally bankrupt organization right now. Trump was elected largely because of block evangelical support (as well as his support from Russia). 80% of white evangelical voters voted for Trump. I don’t want to pretend like the Democrats are perfect, but I don’t see them as equal to the Republican Party either. In my opinion, that’s a false equivalency. Only one if these two parties is trying to take health insurance away from 22+ million people today so they can give more money to billionaires (for example). That’s completely fucked up. But yeah, the Democrats have their issues too. Democrats could be much better, but Republicans are much worse in my opinion. To a large extent, both parties are corrupted by campaign financing rules that allow for large donation from private interests. Changing that, would greatly improve both parties. They are both corrupted by private money.

          • BobLoblaw

            I agree that the GOP is definitely worse but just take the ACA for instance, its not “healthcare for all” its mandated private health insurance who, pddly enough, were among the largest donors in ’08 and ’12. I can count on one hand how many Dems supported a public option or single payer when it was being argued. It was a windfall to insurance companies. Dems also had the opportunity to do the right thing by keeping in place Obama’s ban on federal lobbyist and PAC money that unequivocally corrupts. We see how that went. The two party system is ridiculous, especially when you consider that the VAST majority of voters are independent.

          • Óðinn

            Agreed. Far too few Democrats pushed for single-payer, which is something that should be expected from western democracies. I understand that the private insurance companies were already in the business, and would lose profits. But the government should consider the well-being of the people, and put healthcare mostly outside the profit model. We need to put people before the sacred cow of capitalism.

          • BobLoblaw

            Exactly, but what do you expect from people that wont touch regulation of healthcare services? Pay $9,000 for a procedure here and $60,000 for the same exact procedure 20 miles away.

        • Óðinn

          You’re a priest?!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I’m not a priest. I never want to be a priest as i won’t be able to get married.

  • HessianHunter

    The dude could wail. LP had a huge influence on me as a kid. I genuinely think some of those old jams hold up as excellent songs in 2017. RIP.

  • Jack Bauer

    I must have listened to this song a million times. I was not prepared for how bummed out I would be from his death. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnU4mFonxoo

  • A.P.

    The quote at the end, although familiar, gave me chills in this context. As many of us here do, I, too, have memories of relating to the earlier works of Linkin Park. The impact they made is completely undeniable and this event is an extreme tragedy which deserves, on some level, to remain in our conscious as we proceed. It’s a very oddly important event.

  • Poseur Diposeur

    I was born in 1990, and I also remember hearing the endless procession of Linkin Park singles over the bus radio on my rural ride to school (I was in 6th grade). I never got into them because I was an elitist Pink Floyd fan at the time and then dove head first in heavier stuff when I first heard Lamb of God and other bands that were coming out at that time. They definitely defined that era in a way that holds up way better than bands like P.O.D. and Limp Bizkit that you mentioned. TO me, rap rock is THE most underrated genre, and they certainly did a great job of performing that style with massive appeal.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      POD still holds up. Southtown is the most important rap rock album that isn’t Hybrid Theory.

      • Poseur Diposeur

        Dude, Rage Against the Machine.

        And also has anyone else heard of Molotov? I feel like they are the best rap rock band of all time but they are mostly unknown in the states because most of their vocals are in Spanish. They are amazing though.

        • KJM, Anla’Shok

          Saw RATM in 1999 with Gangstarr opening, brilliant show.

          • Óðinn

            I’m way more into metal than Hip Hop, but I like Gang Starr. They’re great. Seeing them with RATM must have been great.

          • KJM, Anla’Shok

            It was.

        • more beer

          Biohazard, Dog Eat Dog, and Downset all did the rap metal thing better than Rage.

          • Poseur Diposeur

            That’s a matter of opinion, but as far as the “most important” I feel like there’s no question that it’s Rage. They were (and are) hugely popular, their music doesn’t really sound dated or anything even after all these years. They never got pigeonholed with the nu metal crowd like they could have.

            Molotov, Fivefootthick and Biohazard are all bands I prefer to Rage Against the Machine, but int terms of cultural importance Rage wins by far.

            I’ve never heard of Downset, I should check that out.

          • more beer

            Just because a band is hugely popular doesn’t make them the best. If that was the case Nickleback or Stone Sour would be considered best bands. We know they aren’t. Rage was way too repetitive. If you want to call a band the most important one to that be genere you could say it was Ludichrist since the did the rap metal thing before anyone. The only thing Rage wins is the biggest whiner contest. Because that is what they were best at.

          • Poseur Diposeur

            Definitely not saying they are the best. I listed three that I like better actually.

            I don’t really see how Ludichrist qualifies as rap rock.

            We have agreed to disagree

          • more beer

            Because Ludichrist were the first band to ever combine the two using Run DMC’s Rock Box in a song in 1986. Fair enough.

          • Óðinn

            Biohazard is a bit lolbuttzy in my opinion.

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            And Melt Banana does the wtf guitar noise thing better than Rage

          • Óðinn

            I remember that TV show. Everybody who participated in that show should be embarrassed. I watched one episode, and I’m embarrassed about it.

        • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

          Molotov is indeed excellent, but a bit unfair to class them as a rap rock act. They have had a very varied and experimental career

      • BobLoblaw

        Hyuck.

        • Óðinn

          Yeah. P.O.D. sucks donkey dong.

          …Sorry, JJD. I know you like them, but they are awful.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    RIP. I was never a big Linkin Park fan but my friends were and I was shocked when I heard this. The story you told about how you first it was very moving though.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Very well written tribute.
    Linkin Park wasn’t an important part of my life growing up, but of course I remember the old singles from their first album being played on the radio. To be fair, I always kind of dissed them as being a “boyband in heavy rock clothing”. I don’t know if that was deserved, but that was always just the impression they gave me. Now I don’t hate ALL nu metal though I dislike the vast majority of the genre; but I can still appreciate (mostly the debut) albums by Mudvayne, System of a Down, Korn, Slipknot and I’m still a huge Deftones fan. Bands like Linkin Park, more than the early work of aforementioned bands, produced what felt like heavy pop music to me. So it was tempting to give them (again, maybe undeserved) shit for this.
    Now looking back on their really early work, I have to admit that I understand now how they got popular. They mixed all of the elements that were popular to people who just start getting into music: catchy downtuned riffs, earworm choruses, angsty lyrics no doubt a lot of young people can identify themselves with, some hip hop thrown in for good measure…
    And to be fair…they mixed it all together rather smoothly. Adding to this they had a lead singer with an immediately identifiable set of pipes.
    So looking back, was the shit I gave them 100% deserved? Probably not, because despite the “gimmicky” (even though you can say this for a lot of bands really) feeling they gave me, what they did – judging by what I’ve heard by them – they did so rather well.

    • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

      I either remember reading in a magazine, (or having someone in the biz back in the day tell me) that Chester was introduced to the band through their record label, to give them a more “boy band” marketable factor.

      Also, their name was given to them strategically by their record label to capitalize on the financial success of Limp Bizkit. Back when CD’s were listed alphabetically in the shops, they wanted a band to be directly behind Limp Bizkit on the shelves…and what comes directly after L – I – M? L-I-N (kin Park).

      That always seemed manufactured and shady to me, and always turned me off of the band, even while I enjoyed quite a few other nu-metal bands at the time.

      • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

        He was also physically attractive, which helped a lot since none of the other guys had much going on in the looks department

        • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

          I’ll bet that was not coincidental either. It’s still beyond tragic, and I legitimately feel bad for everyone affected, (probably unnecessary to even give the disclaimer, but their are some awful people out there) but because of all that, I probably had more animosity to them than any other band that I just didn’t get into.

          It also probably really irked me back then that people would ask if I’d heard the new extreme metal album by Linkin Park. It would be like today if someone thought the heaviest bands out there were Black Veil Brides or Stone Sour, than those bands might bug the average metal-head more than your average band.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      I too enjoyed ripping on them and talking about how much they sucked, but eventually realized how pointless that was. Nobody in this life is successful by being shit at something, and LP is one of the most successful musical groups of all time, so they got to have done something right. So what if they music was exceedingly simple? Maybe they weren’t trying to win over the tech death crowd. So what if they didn’t curse? Back in 2000 every group dime-a-dozen nu metal hopefuls was going out of their way to earn that “Parental Advisory” sticker, so keeping it PG-13 was actually going against the grain. So what if they were men in their late 20s/early 30s singing about adolescent issues they outgrew years ago to pander to a teenage audience? Do Cannibal Corpse actually do any of the things they sing about in their real lives? So, yeah, I’m with you in that giving a band so much shit because they are not your thing is asinine.

      That being said, there is one thing about Linkin Park that I just find unforgivable: the “Numb” video is absolutely ridiculous. So, is it supposed to be about a girl that’s unpopular and rejected, yet they went and picked the prettiest girl they could find for the part. Seriously, she is the most attractive person in the entire video. An ugly or fat girl would have made more sense, but of course unattractive girls don’t sell records. No, they wanted all their teenage fanbase to fantasize about saving that poor girl from her shit life (after buying the album, of course). That is the only time their pandering to an audience got out of hand. Now I fuck off forever

      • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

        Wow – what if they somehow WERE trying to win over the tech death crowd?

        TECH DEATH THURSDAY – Linkin Park’s New Album Reviewed!

        • Spear

          Well now I have to

  • Guppusmaximus

    It’s very telling that a Pastor wouldn’t support the venting or assisting with the journey through the wastelands of Depression. Of course, it’s not his fault. It wasn’t long ago that society viewed it as merely a weakness and an excuse to not pull your weight never mind some of the more paralyzing mental health issues (Schizophrenia,etc) where Hospitals started & funded by religious groups were the worst offenders of mentally ill patients even to this day.

  • CT-12

    You basically already said it, but man, did part of my childhood die when I heard of Chester’s death. Well written article that I’m happy to see on here. R.I.P.

  • The Tetrachord of Archytas

    I was never a huge fan but I definitely had a brief phase in between meteora and the one after that. Chester used to come into the restaurant i worked at when I was in my earlier 20’s. He was fairly nice but didn’t seem like he liked being approached, so to speak, in terms of his career.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      Understandable. No one likes being bothered while they are trying to eat

  • James

    Fantastic article.