It seems like just yesterday I was a young 14-15 year old kid riding in my Dad's Silverado on a normal afternoon. It was at this time in my life where I started to leave behind my childhood years and gradually headed down the trajectory of a moody teenager who hadn't the slightest clue which way was up or down. Growing up around my Dad I was always privy to the latest music in rap and rock, so it was only natural that my first encounter with Linkin Park came while I was riding in that truck with him on that particular afternoon. I'll never forget hearing him say, "you've gotta check this out". From the moment Hybrid Theory started, it turned into a repeated cycle that followed me throughout high school and into my 20's. Hearing Chester Bennington's voice stuck with me unlike any other artist. Sure, I loved Kurt Cobain, Metallica, 2Pac, and many others, but this was different. For the first time I felt an attachment to the words echoing through my speakers from Chester and Mike. I felt like everything I was hearing was something I could somehow relate to and in many ways they kind of did, because in a world where artists made music about things the average person couldn't relate to, Linkin Park made music that millions of people were able to identify with. I'm not sure if it was the anger in some of their songs that connected with me as this young teen or if it was just the shear power in the songs themselves as Chester and Mike traded raps with screaming. Whatever it was, I was singing "One Step Closer", "Crawling", and "In The End" 24/7.
I know that as people we tend to grow and mature with time, but the great thing about Linkin Park is that I never outgrew them. I was able to identify with the band as they progressed even as their sound slowly changed. As they changed, it was as if I was changing with them in an odd way. I never once felt like the songs they created weren't somehow part of who I was as an individual and I believe this because they never seemed like celebrities to me. They always appeared to come across and genuine people who were grateful to be doing what they were doing. They influenced me and made me believe that one day I too could make music that was as impactful.
Fast Forward to May 2017. Here I am sitting in a parking lot outside of an apartment complex in Hartsville, SC listening the the first single "Heavy" from the new album "One More Light". I'm immediately struck by the significantly different approach taken with this song; however, I still find a connection with the music because I too have had my own struggles over the years that have haunted me and it's normal to ask ourselves, "why is everything so heavy?". I remember sitting there excited to hear the rest of the album even if it was going to be gloomy because maybe gloomy was what I needed a little bit more of at that time to help relate to certain aspects of my own life. It helped to remind myself that nobody is without their own challenges. Regardless, as a veteran fan I knew the new songs would always end with a hopeful message, because thats who they were and thats exactly who I am when I create my own music.
As a fan of Linkin Park, I will never stop playing their music and I hope that they continue to play to some capacity, but if Mike, Brad, Rob, Mr. Hahn, and Phoenix decide that they can't without their best friend, then who can blame them? Either way, they helped shape my life and for that I am eternally grateful. I will continue to cycle through their discography starting with "Papercut" from the first album, to "Sharp Edges" from the most recent and last. Thank you for everything! #ripchester
Check out my new song and music video dedicated to the late, Chester Bennington here: