Remembering Chester Bennington

Isn’t it weird how you can remember lyrics to a song that you haven’t listened to in over a decade? How you can recollect the melody, the rhythm, and the intricacies of a song with precision and confidence despite your time away from the artist.

Linkin Park bears a lot of memory for me. First and foremost, they were a band I identified as my favourite for the very formative years of my musical upbringing. Fab in grade 3 and 4 would have told you my favourite bands were Simple Plan, Blink-182, and Linkin Park. I could name every song off of Hybrid Theory and Meteora, and sing them back to you.

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I was playing Linkin Park when I was 10 and all of my friends were listening to 50 Cent. I vividly remember my grade 4 teacher getting mad at me for playing my burnt cd in class. She said “What is this noise?” while “Lying From You” was playing. Maybe she’s the reason I’m so defensive about my musical taste. Maybe it was Mrs. Poland, who can be credited for this very music blog.

Hearing about the loss of Chester Bennington, was sad and sudden for me. I didn’t get a chance to really process it, as it had happened while I was at work.  But as I’ve sat and let it brew… I realize how sad it is to lose a musician who really helped form my idea of music, and what it means to be a fan. I have such memories of nostalgia when I think about Linkin Park, as it represents so much about my youth. I remember the Muchmusic show, Fandemonium, where die hard fans would compete to show their worth as the band’s biggest fan. One episode was centred around a fan doing obstacle courses to prove his worth as a fan(how else would you quantify true fandom…right?), and the culmination of the episode(so I remember) was the contestant trying to hit Chester Bennington’s decibels. I assure you, he was not able to do so.

I remember the Muchmusic interviews with the band, and the Jay-Z collaboration during Christmas season. I loved thinking I was the only one who knew about the collaboration amongst my friends, and maybe that’s where my want to listen to indie music began. It came from a place of “fuck you, Linkin Park is awesome, I know them, you don’t, but you should”. And of course now I realize how big a band they were for me to know them at ten years old, but none of my friends knew them and that was enough.

I don’t want to analyze the inner workings of Chester’s brain, as I can’t imagine being in a dark enough to place to even consider taking my own life, but rather appreciate what he’s done for me as a music fan and how much he will be missed. Despite not listening to Linkin Park since the release of Meteora, I can say that this is a band that will forever be part of my musical upbringing.

Whether it be my older brother playing “A Place in My Head” constantly in the summers of the early 2000’s, or when “Don’t Stay” followed “I am the Highway” on the mixtape he would play day in and day out, Linkin Park represents many of my earliest memories of music.

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Being about 10 years old at the time,  I didn’t understand I was at a point in rock music where nu-metal and rap rock was at its peak. I didn’t know of Limp Bizkit, and Korn, and so the mix of rap, rock, and electronic production was just so cool to me. It seemed like something that was revolutionary and rare. After all, my friends who liked hip hop and rap didn’t like rock, so this band that fused the two, just seemed like such a game breaker. They made it clear to me, that rap and rock didn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

As I write this, Hybrid Theory is currently blasting in the background. I can’t express how hard it is to focus and write while it plays, but I feel like it’s what Chester would want. It’s easy for me to see why I loved this band so much, as I give Hybrid Theory its first complete listen in over ten years. It wasn’t from a place of understanding his trouble, or understanding their place in music history, but rather just thinking “this band is fucking cool”. They were accessible, and fun, and Chester’s voice was the masterpiece.

Chester’s ability to sing melodically, and then absolutely explode like no one else was awe-inspiring. His voice is one of a generation, but it’s also, once in a generation. It’s one that will forever be entwined in the upbringing of many millennials, and so along with shaping my musical taste, his voice will forever represent youthful nostalgia to the kids of the 2000’s.

Chester Bennington will forever be the voice of my youth. He will be missed dearly.  

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