Chester Bennington. Linkin Park. It is so unreal thinking that Chester Bennington is not with us anymore. It feels so, so weird that I will never be able to hear Chester’s voice in a new way again. Like a pit has formed in my stomach which I cannot fathom. That no song ever now released will have a new style of Chester’s voice.
Chester’s death came as a shock, an insanely massive one. My friend, Simran Bodh called me up a little after midnight. At first, I thought it was a call because she was pissed off because I didn’t tell her I had finished “Kafka on the Shore”. I picked it up nonchalantly and asked, “Sup”. Her only words were, “Did you hear about Chester?” And I went like, “What Chester?” And she went like, “Chester from Linkin Park.” And I was like, “Of course I know Chester from Linkin Park (Come on, I grew up with Linkin Park)”. And then she went, “He died.” And I was incredulous. I was like, “Are you mad?” And then she told me to check google and I did. And all the incredulity in me about what she said was torn away. I thought it would be some fucker spreading misinformation or something, like how we had talks of Linkin Park breaking up and stuff. I checked google, and I wrote Chester Bennington, and the second search result read “Chester Bennington death”.
I went silent. I was like, “What the Actual Fuck are you talking about.” I couldn’t believe what I had just read. I checked Wikipedia, twenty different articles and I just couldn’t believe it. I was on call for two hours, wherein I just spent the first hour repeating, “Na he’s just gonna wake up and be like ‘It’s all fine. I’m alive’. You see.” Some part of me just couldn’t believe he was gone. I kept on reading more and more articles, as though it might actually reverse what had happened or that all of them shared a source which was wrong.
The second hour I spent on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, looking at all the messages people left for Chester. So many people had put up so many beautiful things. One person told how he had loved them and he even introduced them to his children. One person put up a video, showing the first song they ever played on the piano: In The End. So many people saying that Linkin Park song’s got them out of a tough time. One person said My December pulled him out of many a tough times and he was sorry it couldn’t pull Chester out of it too. My brother has Iridescent as his pick me up song. If only Chester could see the impact he and Linkin Park have had on all of us, the impact their voice had on us. Maybe.
It was only after he died that I got to know Chester had depression. I knew he was molested as a child and had drug and alcohol addiction issues, but I never knew about his depression. I saw an interview that day itself in which he said (I’m paraphrasing), “There are days when I feel nothing. I want to feel happy, but I wake up and I can’t.”
There are a lot of people who are going around saying Chester is a coward for committing suicide, and it wasn’t the way. But suicide is never the first option, or the best. It is always the last option. When you think nothing else can pull you through. And frankly, even though I’ve never been through it, I feel it is not easy. Think about Chester’s thought process. When he was thinking of committing suicide, how much strength he would have needed. He was leaving behind six perfect children, a beautiful wife, and an amazing team with whom he had been working for the past 17 years (20 if we also count their Xero years). And he still did it, because he saw no other way.
Linkin Park has been a friend all these years. They are the first band I ever heard, and alongside Fireflies by Owl City and some songs by Maroon 5 and Death Cab for Cutie, have greatly influenced a lot of my works, especially my earlier ones. Every piece I write, I make it a point to reference Linkin Park, because it is because of them that I am able to write about things much more mature than my age. The Parks in my blog name stand for Linkin Park.
All these years, for some reason, no matter how different Linkin Park became from their initial sound, they always pulled me back. I had this cycle for every album they released after Minutes to Midnight. I used to listen to it, I was like, “This music is so different,” then I wouldn’t listen to all the songs as much as other Linkin Park songs and then one day I would listen and realise that it is still Linkin Park, even though their music has changed. And I would be hooked. I eventually realised it. It was their lyrics. Deep, and powerful. Every new album, I would see that their music was vastly changed from their previous album and they still rocked it. Every single time. Their lyrics allowed me a view into worlds and emotions beyond what I knew at that age. They still allow me to view into different worlds, and shake me apart with the strength of their lyrics. All the time leading up to One More Light, everyone went crazy. “What is Linkin Park doing,” “They’ve sold out,” and what not. I heard Heavy and I thought it was good. It wasn’t their best song, but I still liked it and it struck a nerve with me. Despite their change in music, they hadn’t really changed. They still kept their songs emotional and from the heart. Then came Battle Symphony, and I was blown away!!!! I was like, “WOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHHHHHHHH!” I can’t even put into words how awesome that song is. Like, Damn! Amazing! And then, they followed it up with Invisible and I went like, “DUUUUUUUUUUDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!” Linkin Park has always got it. Both of these songs have somehow crept up to positions 5 and 6 respectively in my “All Time Top Linkin Park Songs”. And every song I hear of Linkin Park’s, I go like, Damn! Even after all these years, their songs are still intact with immense power and meaning. Their songs never lose their charm.
So, when I heard Chester died, I just felt sad. It was upsetting. It was like, losing a friend, and knowing that nothing you could do to help him. If only my writing about my love for him and Linkin Park could keep him alive, or bring him back, I would never stop, never finish this article. And there is no need to worry, because even after I’m tired, or gone or unable to continue, someone else will take my spot. And we would have only stopped when Chester would’ve been ready to go.
There are still so many things I haven’t articulated, simply because I don’t know what they are, and the things I do know, how to write them. Linkin Park for Life! I grew up on the Park. We all did. Some of us grew up and went away from the park, some of us are still there, roaming around. But all of us, we Grew up on the Park.
Rest in Peace Chester, keep rocking wherever you are, until we see you again, and hear your voice in new styles. Godspeed my friend, I will always remember you. You will always be in my memory