On the evening of November 29, 2001, I was standing on the floor of the DeltaPlex taking in the Linkin Park concert. Looking back on it, that concert was a rite of passage.
“Don’t turn your back on me. I won’t be ignored!”
For 28–35 year-old white dudes, Linkin Park’s music was the soundtrack of our adolescence. But, it was much more than just background noise, Linkin Park was formative. Chester Bennington, who managed to scream in tune, belted out our emotions for us.
Linkin Park’s sound was new, angry, and mesmerizing. Linkin Park made grunge rock sound unsophisticated and slow, and it absolutely shredded the ballads of our parents’ generation. See The Who.
We punched the air to Linkin Park’s first two albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, and walked the halls of school with an attitude, sporting a black t-shirt and a LP wrist band. Linkin Park was like MIRACLE-GRO for all of the dark moods of our teenage wasteland. We had a volatile, unbalanced relationship.
We fought terrorists, both real and virtual, with “Papercut” playing in the background. Pushed by the music and our energy drinks, we engaged in risky behavior and euphemistically called it “extreme sports.” We [I] didn’t try in school because nothing mattered.
The music video for “What I’ve Done” is a gripping montage of humanity’s path of destruction. We are all just parasites.
“This is my December.”
Thankfully, most of us matured and took a break from Linkin Park. It’s not that we stopped listening, but it was for shorter periods of time, and we didn’t identify with the anger or despair. Our life experiences had shown that Linkin Park’s message was too flat. Life is full of light and happiness. Who listens to Linkin Park as they fall in love, start careers, find God, and have children? We “broke the habit.”
Art conveys real emotions. Lyrics mean something. Listening is not passive. For these reasons, Linkin Park’s music should be consumed in moderation. Sadly, some people never see the other side of life. How do you escape the pain if you are Linkin Park?
That is the tragedy here. Chester Bennington’s darkness was not just for a season. The anger and sadness went all the way down. Chester’s struggles were consumed by all of us. We identified with him and paid for his pain.
“Who cares if one more light goes out?”
Ironically, Linkin Park’s song, “One More Light,” from the new album of the same name expresses a love of life that is true and beautiful. The song’s message is that life matters and that people care. Even though there are billions of people on this earth, every life is precious and meaningful. “Who cares if one more light goes out? Well, I do.” There is hardly a message more inconsistent with suicide.
As we mourn Chester’s death and all that it represents, I hope that the message of “One More Light” shines through the darkness. Who cares about the Linkin Park generation? Well, I do.