It may sound like a stretch to call Chester Bennington, the legendary lead singer of Linkin Park, a “hero,” however, as a twenty-something who grew up on Meteora and Minutes to Midnight, one band’s vision and sound had more effect on my teenage years than almost anything else. Linkin Park made the songs in which I would hide as a depressed, angry kid. It isn’t an exaggeration for me to say that without their music, I would not be writing this piece today.
When I found out that Bennington was gone, it took me hours to actually believe it. TMZ broke the news, prompting me to beg CNN or AP to come across my phone confirming some sick hoax. When, slowly, confirming reports came in, I felt a big part of me – a part wrapped up in nostalgia and pain and deeply important memories – disappear. It feels like only yesterday that I was writing about the suicide of another incredibly important musician to me, Chris Cornell. Now, I am slowly wrapping my mind around the fact that one of the most important musical artists in my life has left a shocked world behind.
So, what does this mean for us, the ones who are left with all of the questions and few of the answers? What does this mean, especially for those of us who feel a similar darkness inside and push it back every time by trying to better the world through our talents? A few things have rung through to me as I sit here processing the death of Chester Bennington.
First, craft your art from the deepest (and occasionally darkest) parts of you. Let the beauty you create flow out from the fire that burns inside you so intensely. People can see that genuine emotion coursing through every lyric or frame. It is in this realness that art can go from being entertaining to being transformative. Everyone, especially the hurting, is seeking something that accurately mirrors the war that goes on inside of their own head. Don’t hide who you are in your art.
But, also, create with an eye firmly fixed on the goal of bringing a bit more light to a broken world. That light does not need to come through in some sort of naïve optimism. Hope can be found in the most bitter of words, for, even when voiced in anger, those who hear you can, at least, not feel alone. In my opinion, when given the platform from which to display our talents, as those who understand the struggles of our readers or our listeners, we have a responsibility to try to make lives better.
Most importantly, remember that your words mean as much for you as they do for anyone consuming them. When you send out hope to the world, it is not just those on the receiving end of your creations that need to believe you. Oftentimes, the messages we send the loudest are those we struggle the hardest to believe. Do you want to tell the world how much they matter? Begin to work through the indescribably difficult process of realizing how much you matter.
It’s not easy to be an artist, whether it be as a writer, a musician, a performer, or any of art’s many beautiful forms. It isn’t easy to feel things so deeply. It isn’t easy to have such weight attached to the things you say or do, since you are able to convey truths in ways that hold life-altering potential. However, through our individual, unique gifts, we have the capacity to truly make a difference. Chester Bennington did. Linkin Park did. So can we.
Chester Bennington is gone. A brilliant force in the music industry, and a voice for so many is, I hope, finally at peace. Those who have followed him or his music for a fair amount of time know that depression was a daily fight for the 41-year-old singer and songwriter. Fans and voices within the industry alike will mourn his death for days, months, and years to come. My deepest sympathies are with those who knew and loved one of the most iconic voices in music.
My favorite Linkin Park song is off Minutes to Midnight. “Leave Out All The Rest” chronicles the fear that comes with realizing one’s own mortality and recognizing the lack of control we all have on what comes after we die. I suppose that it is the best way to end this article as we all, fans and simple lovers of humanity alike, bid a final farewell to a great man.
“When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done and help me leave behind some reasons to be missed. And don’t resent me when you’re feeling empty; keep me in your memory and leave out all the rest.”
Remember Linkin Park’s music. Remember the truth they told. Remember the people they impacted. Leave out all the rest.
You are beautiful. You are loved. You deserve a better tomorrow.