This is apparently the only photo I took from the one time I saw Linkin Park live in 2012. I guess I was too engaged in the moment to be taking photos, which is pleasantly surprising.
If you know me, you probably know that Linkin Park is my favourite band. I have always raved to friends that Chester has one of the greatest voices in rock music history. Linkin Park is usually associated with their ‘nu-metal’ or harder sound with songs like 'Faint’ or ’Given Up’, where Chester demonstrates the power behind his voice, but you can hear an incredible control and unique timbre in vocals from softer, minimal songs. Specifically, ’The Messenger’ from ‘A Thousand Suns’, my favourite album of all time, demonstrates Chester’s vocal ability in this way. Their recent album ‘One More Light’ has some of the most beautifully written songs I’ve ever heard, with many resembling this tone. The somber title track, ‘One More Light’, while now sounding a bit like a foreboding suicide note, is an absolute work of art.
Whether shaped by his music for as long as decades to as short as a few month's time, the fans seem to have similar stories. Chester connected with us. His lyrics expressed personal sentiment in a way that rang true with our own, like a friend that understood us. He felt like someone we could talk to and be with in the worst of times. We now share in one of those times together, and come to those same lyrics instead feeling conflicted.
He once said that you don't need to know someone to have an intimate connection with them. While there isn't much comfort to be found in something so confusing, it's nice to know that he understood what he meant to his fans. I wish somehow that we could have returned what he gave us - a mental and emotional escape. A shoulder. A light. It’s troubling to me that he was able to save so many from darkness, but not himself.
It’s amazing isn’t it? That we can feel love and sorrow for someone we’ve never met. All this emotional outpouring based on a person’s creative works alone is testament to the power of art. People around the world like me today have been unable to listen to their favourite music without breaking into tears. To me, that’s the mark of an amazing artist.
In a few ways, this hits me hard. Depression is real. If you feel like somethings up with someone, talk to them. Ask them how they’re doing. I think sometimes that’s all it takes to set someone down the beginnings of a better path. Just a genuine friend or caring voice.
Tragedy can be a humbling reminder of our humanity. No matter how together we can seem to have our lives, the unexpected can happen and rock all of that foundation to the core. We can wallow, grieve, cry, and share in sadness with others, but along with all that emotion comes an avenue for action. Pain can be harnessed and turned into something else. For artists, that something else is creativity. As much as this hurts, it will forge stronger hearts and powerful art. On some sort of strange bright side, I know that beauty will come from this.
I was planning to see Linkin Park this fall with my father, something we've always wanted to do together, and hear that stadium-echoing voice once again. I am simply grateful now that I was able to see them when I did, and share in that one-time experience with my brother. Here is a video of us at that concert while they played my all-time favourite song, ‘Waiting for the End’. If you listen, you can hear me horribly singing along the entire time, enjoying the hell out of this beautiful moment.
If you aren’t familiar with Linkin Park beyond their most popular works, or at all, I’ve created a Spotify playlist of some favourites. Some of these songs have meant a great deal to me over the years, and been an aid in trying times. I hope you can enjoy them in some way, and perhaps glimpse why he has meant so much to so many, along with the pain we now share in together.
I hope you’ve found peace, Chester. Here’s to the many more times myself and many others will be inspired by your incredible voice and artistry. I’ll try to turn this heartbreak into something beautiful.
‘Who cares if One More Light goes out?’ I do. We do. We all do. We all care, man.
Your fan, Andrew.