It starts with one thing, I don’t know why…
I’m sorry for the extremely cheesy and cliched start to this post. But it’s honestly one of the few opening lyrics that’s just so catchy and memorable and kicks off such an awesome song. I didn’t think that the news about Chester Bennington would affect me much. I enjoyed listening to the hit singles Linkin Park released back in the day as I played them off my old trusty MP3 player on the school buses. They were full of angst that many teenagers could relate to as you navigate through puberty feeling misunderstood and alone.
I don’t even have much to say in this post. I wasn’t a diehard fan who followed them from the beginning back when they called themselves Xero. I’ve never been to one of their concerts. Before the news hit, I would not be able to recognise them if they walked past me. I don’t even have the lyrics to Numb downpat; I tend to mumble my way through several lines I’ve never quite learned. So I don’t have a personal experience with how the band shaped who I am or helped me through dark times. I just enjoyed the songs that I listened to when I was younger. The songs that I had fun singing along to and sometimes felt cooler thanI really was whenever I could rattle off the lyrics with the highest levels of oomph I could muster. They were edgy and awesome to teenage-me and they were really just great.
I was eating lunch in the city when I saw the news on my phone. I was a bit sad at first, but I quickly found other things to read while I ate. I messaged my brother with my condolences as LP is one of his favourite bands. I sent some sad face emojis and went about my day. I heard Numb/Encore while I bought bubble tea and thought that was a nice nod of respect. I brought it up when I saw my boyfriend later that day and talked briefly about how sad it was. Then it was basically old news and I didn’t dwell on it.
But every so often over the past week, I would have one of their songs stuck in my head and I’ll be softly singing it to myself in my room or at work. So this morning I typed Chester’s name into Google and basically went down the rabbit-hole of sorrow that awaited me. I watched live concerts and listened to interviews. I read tributes from others and looked at the band members’ Instagrams. I jumped through wiki pages and looked at photos and videos of Chester with Chris Cornell. My eyes welled up throughout and I just couldn’t believe he was gone. I wanted to see more and more of this amazing guy who I knew so little about and who left us far too soon. He deserved a world where he was happy. It hurts that this wasn’t enough and the demons pulled him away from us.
I hate how the band had to deal with the waves of criticism and anger when they released their newer music. You have to have a tough skin to be in entertainment and in the public’s eye, but does anyone really deserve to be called a sell-out or lazy when they share the new direction their art has evolved into?
This news has hurt countless people, especially the ones who have come out into forums and comment sections everywhere to tell their story of how listening to LP helped them feel like they shared the same painful feelings with someone else. They talk about how the lyrics spoke to them when nothing else did. And how they sought solace and hope in Chester’s way of singing with such incredible energy and emotional connections, that it was like they finally found understanding. Some owe their lives to him.
I’m still fairly private about writing up really personal matters on this blog. On a matter as strong as this, I don’t feel open enough to share my deep, dark thoughts on suicide. But I do want to say that his passing away coinciding with Chris’ birthday, if it was a conscious decision, is a tragic thing to note. I feel like I am similar in that way of thinking and I can only hope that I won’t ever choose a path like it.
Thank you Chester. I hope you knew how much you meant to us. The sun will set for you.