Linkin Park & the Evolution of Music

Right, this is something that’s been rumbling about in my head for quite a while. And now, it’s the middle of the night and I’ve been listening to music. For the rest of the weekend it seems I’m home alone, and these days listening to music for hours are pretty much what I do when I’m alone.

Back to the topic at hand though. Linkin Park, the void it’s actually left in my life, the outpouring of love from around the globe and the impact they’ve had on my life, once it’s all simmered in the back of my mind.

Above all though, their music.

LP has always been one of my favorite bands. They’re up there, reigning supreme at the top, just a bit below Ben Folds. And just like Ben Folds/Ben Folds Five, I keep returning to their music in waves. Ben Folds Five is sure to come up in heavily in my life at the start of summer and throughout winter. LP was the same. Of course, the past six weeks have been pretty heavy with LP. It had taken a while, but I think it’s finally hit me how big of a blow this was. During an offhand conversation with a good friend we spoke of the upcoming Blizzcon, which the game company Blizzard holds each year for its games, and just the mention of it changed my mind to LP. For they often headlined Blizzcon. They were awesome like that. Then we got sad. Although, buddy brightened spirits with videos from Hard Rock Café in Paris, where he’d just been with his SO, and they were playing LP.

Just like other heroes of my teen years (and still!), Linkin Park, along with people like Eddie Izzard and even fictional ones like Samwise Gamgee, got me through a lot of shit. It doesn’t just feel like I’m finally for the first time in my life in a good place: it IS the first time. Before this, there was a lot of lost years, where I felt I was merely a spectator of my own life and I was running only on the steam from my own will to go on, all while I was hiding away from the world. There were a couple of years back there, where it was just going to work, and then back home, just to dream away my life. Into a book. Into a film. Into music. Into a fantasy.

Then I found out what I wanted to do with my life. To write. It was always there, in the back of my mind, just, unfocused. Blurred, somehow, by a life not in motion. Then came Phoebe, and though I’ve found a lot of courage to follow my dreams from within myself, it’s truly her that made me realize I could, and should, follow my dreams. For she’s doing the same. And, well, life is fucking short. Why shouldn’t you? Heck, I think I was eight or nine years old when I cried myself to sleep one night, all because I would die one day, and I feared no one would remember me. No mark. No nothing.

It might seem like I’m going off track there (and maybe I am?), but in my mind I’m not. For all those years, all those depressed times, the highs, the lows. Linkin Park was there. A new album. A new song. A tour. A story, a presence in someone life. Someone like me, or probably you, who’s had damn hard times in their lives and LP was there and sang shit you recognized. Shit that made you keep on going. People who somehow understood and managed to fuel all that anger and bitterness into poetry in motion.

And without realizing it, Linkin Park evolved with me. It evolved with all of us.

They got to us in our angsty teenage years, where we felt so insecure at the world, angry at it, and at the things and people going on around us. When we were trying to find our place in the world. God knows it took me a long time to figure it out, but I finally think I’m on my way.

No other time has the feeling of finally getting something dawned on my harder than after the passing of Chester Bennington. It was never about shouting and being angry at the world. It was about love. And yes, that sounds cheesy. That’s a cheesy thing to say, but I think it’s true.

On this last record, LP is still angsty, it’s still misplaced in the world, but they’re growing up. Figuring out life. There’s not a song on this album about not fitting in, or feeling so stepped on you don’t even know who you are anymore. But there is a song Mike Shinoda wrote about being a father. Like, man, LP grew up. Yes, of course, people have kids. Chester had six. And yet, it shows where the guys were in their lives. They’d beaten a lot of those insecurities. Just like we all wish we could, right? xD

But yeah, Chester didn’t beat his particularly towering demons. And that is heartbreaking.

I remember I had Phoebe listen to their new lead single ‘Heavy’ when it first came out, and I even told her that even though I’d liked all their previous albums, save for Hunting Party which I don’t find so memorable, I didn’t think they were that good anymore. Because, I didn’t get it. I think a lot of people didn’t Linkin Park had moved on. People wanted the old angry music, but that’s not where they were at. And that was fantastic. But even I didn’t get that.

Then July 20th, 2017 hit, and the entire meaning of an album suddenly changed and mattered so drastically. Suddenly I found such meaning and beauty in their new music, and they’re still on repeat. Rough way to make me realize a point, Chester.

Those people who branded him a coward? Can’t stand them. It’s so misguided. Depression is one of the worst conditions. It really is the silent killer, and it needs to be brought into the public conscious. God, I read this Twitter tirade by some nobody boxer I’d never heard of before the other day, which went along the lines of ‘depression isn’t real’, yada yada yada. Pretty much just one of those displays of stupidity you have to look away from.

A lot of the anger that fueled LP’s music the last decades were Chester Bennington’s personal demons, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how hard he’s probably struggled against this. Yes, he was a superstar, king of the world etc, but again: depression is the silent killer. It’s always there, no matter how fat your wallet is. It’s a weird thought to think, but maybe people should be glad we had him for this long. The world could easily have lost Chester in 2003, or maybe ’06, or any other year. Any moment he was struck out of nowhere by intense emotions and grief.

Ehhh, yeah I don’t know. Like, how to end this or anything. I just wanted to write about this. It’s been on my mind a lot.

The stripped back version of Crawling has become my favorite Linkin Park song.

And sometimes goodbye’s the only way.


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