I was quiet for a little while there, you may have noticed. Other aspects of life crept up on me: responsibilities, demanding my full attention over the last few months, needy little things that they are.
One sad event did occur, a while back now, the world lost Chester Bennington.
I’ve never been one for celebrity worship. I’ve been guilty of wondering why so many people offer Facebook tributes to artists they rarely listened to. It seems everytime a celebrity dies, a bandwagon passes by my window full of surprisingly young fans of bygone music.
Then Chester died.
Linkin Park has always been my favourite band. I was never a superfan: I’d never seen them live; my bedroom wasn’t full of merchandise; I didn’t read about their lives in NME or Kerrang, but I listened to Hybrid Theory, the first album I ever bought.
Amidst the most awkward time of my life, battling angst and uncertainty, balancing who I wanted to be, and how others saw me, Hybrid Theory made a connection. I’d listen to it over and over. I’d listen to the lyrics and hear my own thoughts, as though each and every song was tailor-made for me.
The years passed, Meteora led me to college (I didn’t really pick up Reanimation until Uni, where it grew on me). It was the soundtrack that accompanied my walk to the pass stop right through to stepping into class.
After formal education ended, and more challenges arose, I fell into a depression. Minutes to Midnight was there that time, singing my thoughts, making sense of things and feelings. When I’d drink four cans of lager on the way to the train station, ready to throw myself into a new social circle, Bleed It Out gave me the push. When I’d found my way home in the early hours of the morning, after walking several miles with only alcohol as fuel, Leave Out All The Rest gave me permission to feel miserable. Without this album, I doubt I would have worked through all the necessary emotions to heal, not in a healthy way at least.
When I was told about Chester by a close friend, I cried. I surprised myself by sobbing over a stranger, yet there was a grave feeling of loss. When Chester took his life, I felt like I’d lost an old friend, an old friend who’d helped me out through some pretty dark times. The kind of friend you lose touch with over the years, pledging to reunite soon, until eventually, news of their suicide spreads. For some reason, that’s how it felt when Chester died, though we’d never met.
I make a habit of separating art from the artist, for not all great artists are good people, yet I couldn’t help feel a sting of childhood loss when I heard the news. The lyrics were my thoughts at one point, and now the man who etched them forever in my memory is gone. Never will he etch again. I suppose, for me, it represented the mortality of my own childhood.
Other artists will come and go, creating further nostalgia and emotional connections undoubtedly, but only one was with me during key events that made me who I am today. For that, I grieved.
Goodbye Chester, the friend I never met.