Linkin Park – Chester Bennington

I’ve always listened to music. It was and still is a huge part of my life. The first album I ever bought was a Spice Girls single, and I remember being so proud of it and playing it non stop in my C.D player. My taste in music then was mainly pop with the likes of Britney, Christina and of course Spice Girls.

Then one day, I remember going to a party at a friends house, it was her brothers birthday. It was the first party I have been to that was at night and I was 10 years old. I remember being so amazed at the amount of people that were at the party and the sound system they had that could be heard throughout the house and even outside, it was such a free feeling.

It wasn’t until later that night, that they played a song that for all tense and purposes has shaped my music taste to this day. They played Crawling, it honestly felt like an outer body experience when the song came on. We were sitting outside in the dark under a tree, when it played, and almost immediately I got up and walked to the dance floor. I didn’t wait for my friend (who apart from my brother who was there) was the only person I knew at the party, I just connected with it and didn’t need anyone one but the song.

After it played I was obsessed to find out who the singer was and the name of the song, I had to have more. I even requested that they played it again, which they did and I was in total bliss. It was the first a song had made me feel that way.

I think the reason for that was that it was the first song that I have heard that spoke about things that weren’t spoken about. It wasn’t a uplifting song, it wasn’t about boy meets girl, it was about feeling hopeless and confused. It didn’t feel fake or cliched, it was real, raw and full of emotion.

When I finally got the album, there was no stopping me. Back then, we didn’t have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or anything like that, but that didn’t matter because I still felt a connection with the band solely based on the lyrics. It felt like a save haven, that no matter what was going on around me, I could

always count on the music to be there.

Meteora came out and you best believe I got the album as soon as I could. It was like Christmas! It was such an empowering album that just made you want to sing the songs from the rooftop and imagine that you are the artist singing it to those around you.

The album also brought me closer to my friends and acquaintances who later also became my friends. It was like a gateway to share our favorite songs of the albums and by doing so, we got a better understanding of what we were going through during that time of our lives. In short, our shared interested in the music created a bond that was and still is as everlasting as the music still prevails in our lives.

After Meteora, I discovered more bands in the rock / punk rock genre such as Limp Bizket, Staind, Sum41, My Chemical Romance etc. and that just opened a whole new community of “rockers” who came from all walks of life but had that one thing in common, and it was all that mattered.

I remembered one day, I was binge watching their music videos and dreaming of the day that I could watch them live…and that day finally came in 2014! They were coming to South Africa!! It was during my finals in college, but I didn’t care, I simply HAD to go. It was the best time, my friends, partner and I went together and it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to. It’s such a comforting feeling, seeing the band live on stage that you’ve listened to for years on your stereo. It’s like finally meeting a life long friend. And then seeing the crowed, thousands and thousands of fans singing along to the words that you’ve been singing alone, that connection and presences is such a natural high that it lasts for weeks after the concert.

But what I remember most of that concert specifically, was Chester smiling and blowing kisses at the crowed as the band walked of stage.

When YouTube became more than music videos, I searched for all things Linkin Park. I love live music more than studio versions, so I was in my happy place listening to YouTube until my data run out. On the recommended, it showed “funny Linkin Park moments”, and then I binged watched those. The whole band’s vibe was infections. It was great to see that the band got along well and joked around a lot. They were so funny in the videos and felt like even though I’ve never met them, I knew them.

Minutes to Midnight came out, and I remember seeing the album at the airport and was itching to buy it then and there, but couldn’t at the time, it was very frustrating. When I finally purchased the album, I immediately took it out of the wrapping in the car, gave the C.D to my dad to play it, and was drawn to “Leave out all the rest”. It was a different sound for them, very slow, softer tune, but also gave emphasis on Chester’s voice that was soothing along with the meaning of the lyrics of the song.

While Minutes to Midnight was released, Chester started working on songs for the band called Dead by Sunrise. According to him, the reason for this was that the songs he wrote for the album were much darker and moodier than would be the style of Linkin Park, but we didn’t want to let them go to waste. The lyrics (I came to find out as I am writing this post) was about back when he was in a phase in his life were he felt like he could be dead before sunrise hence the name of the band. It was a time where he was partying a lot but not the fun kind. The name of the album is “Out of Ashes” because he was not living that lifestyle anymore.

From Minutes to Midnight to A Thousand Suns, Living Things, The Hunting Party and One More Light. All albums performed by the same band but the similarities stopped there, the style was much different this time round, and everyone had a lot to say about that. People generally don’t like change, and when they expect things a certain way, and it is not like that, it blows them away.

Personally, I still loved most of the songs, and those that I didn’t, I just skipped the track. It didn’t matter to me, because to me, they were more than one track I disliked.

I guess why I am writing this, is because i’m trying to find closure… It’s still heartbreaking to face the reality that…he will never write another song ever again. I’m trying to face the facts, but i’ts just to unreal… I’m trying to listen to their songs, but find myself skipping halfway through, the lyrics have a whole new meaning and I’m reading into it so much that it’s not the same anymore.

You know, I always wondered why people got so upset and cried why their favorite celebrities died, but now I know… even though I never met him… he and his band Linkin Park… has shaped me to be the person I am today.

The fact that I didn’t’ know about the drug abuse, childhood abuse, depression, makes me feel like I wasn’t a true fan, like if I had been, his death would not have been a shock, but then again, where in the mainstream news do they tell us this? I knew Beyonce had twins and Jzay cheated on her, and don’t even know how I know this, but with Chester, I didn’t know, and then i think how could I not with the lyrics, but then what about My Chemical Romance, The Used, 30 Seconds to Mars, Staind, I am so confused..

I am lost, I feel alone…

I miss Chester.