My home is resonating with Linkin Park’s sound for most of today. When it isn’t my brother or cousins playing the songs, it’s me. I started playing the Meteora album this morning. Hybrid Theory followed, and then Minutes to Midnight. This ritual isn’t new, but today is different. Today, I was listening to Linkin Park after so long with unimaginable concentration. Today, I shuddered at every song that spoke of pain. Today, more than anything else, my home was resonating with Chester’s voice.
People might wonder why I care so much about a celebrity’s death. Here’s the answer. I care, partly because he was a human being. Partly because he was a genuine and amazing human being. Partly because he is so loved, by his family and millions of people across the world. And also partly, because, when you grow up with Linkin Park, you care about this group of people who literally helped you get through your teenage years.
At the time when cassette tapes were yet to be totally uncommon, around 11 years ago, I discovered Linkin Park, thanks to a cousin and my brothers. The neatly folded paper displaying Meteora cover art had me fascinatingly looking at it and wondering what those songs must be about. It was probably the last cassette I ever listened to. But it was also the beginning of a musically rich era for me, an era which, thankfully, lasted long.
Linkin Park was my first step to Western music. My first favourite band. The first artiste/band I ever had the desire to watch live. At a time when there were just songs talking of sex, sappy romance or breakup doing the rounds, Linkin Park gave me the music I wanted to listen. The emotion, the intensity, the pain that LP was full of, and evoked in the listeners, was unparalleled. I waited with excitement to watch the music videos. They were full of meaning. I was proud of Linkin Park.
I kept a diary full of handwritten Linkin Park lyrics. I didn’t want to share it with friends from school in the beginning, thinking I might be the only LP fanatic in my school. But whenever I got a hint that a person is fond of at least one or two songs, I sure as hell ensured that I gave them sermons talking about LP and the band trivia that I knew. This zeal did help; I ended up solidifying friendship with a classmate of mine, a girl who I am very good friends with till date. We spoke about LP every day. That was a phase when I didn’t want school to get over, not because I was overly fond of classes, but because I couldn’t stop talking and getting excited about Linkin Park. I once spent time talking to a famous senior, for the first time, in high school, solely about, of course LP (thereby him saying to a friend of mine later on, ‘wow I didn’t know she talks!’). I once made a birthday card for another close friend of mine, a huge LP fan, with the birthday wishes having appropriately placed titles of some famous LP songs. Soon I started writing out LP lyrics for those who wanted them. I was proud of Linkin Park.
Even as lot of old LP fans started liking their music less and less, I started getting even more fond of them. I guess, to each his own. To me, LP’s music has always transcended instruments and beats. It always has had soul. It always has had meaning. Chester and his mates didn’t just create music for the masses; they believed in making music for themselves. They spoke of things they wanted to speak about.
Chester’s unparalleled vocals had this anguish and pain that probably only he could have brought out into the songs. As much as I love the band, it still hurts me to know that the very lyrics and the very vocals I love were subtle indicators of the pain he had been going through. He created a space which I am afraid no one will be able to fill.
Years have passed. I may not be as fanatic as before, I may not be keeping updates about their albums and trivia anymore, but am I still proud of Linkin Park? Hell yes, I am.