Ten years ago I was in a pretty dark place. My agency was in the process of going bankrupt in the midst of the “economic crisis” (although other sketchy factors were also at play), I was going through a messy divorce (involving my son and our chocolate labrador) and I had a big crash on the M6 when I rolled my mini a couple of times after being hit by a minicab going the wrong way. All of that happened within a month or so, escalating a whole bunch of issues that would take several years to play out. I was not a happy bunny and I coped as best I could hiding away from the world for some time, burying my head in books and music.
The one constant factor during that period which often helped to keep me sane was the music of Linkin Park. So it is with terrible sadness that I write this, after hearing that lead singer Chester Bennington committed suicide last night. The heart wrenching tragedy of his suicide felt even sadder when I heard that Chester chose to take his life on the birthday of his friend Chris Cornell, lead vocalist of Soundgarden who took his own life in May. Chris would have been 53 yesterday. Bennington wrote this emotional letter to his friend after he died. In it, he touches on his grief, how he inspired him, and how he felt Cornell was “saying goodbye in your own way“.
“I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look my wife’s face. She told me my friend had just passed away. Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept. I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivalled. your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that. I just watched a video of you singing “A Day In The Life” by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I’d like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can’t imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. I send my love to your wife and children, friends and family”.
I remember hearing Chester talk a few years ago how feelings are stronger than ideas or words in a song. It’s a quote I’ve also heard from Bono and explains why music often takes you a place that words on their own couldn’t have taken you. The music is Linkin Park (or U2) is not for everyone, but it is for me. At several crucial times in my life their words and music have connected with me on a spiritual level that helped me to cope with whatever was going on around me.
Chester once wrote,
“When I’m writing I’m constantly thinking about myself, because it’s the only experience I have to draw on. And I don’t see an exact reflection of myself in every face in the audience, but I know that my songs have validity to them, and that’s why the fans are there”.
It’s a very sad day, and another reminder, as if we needed one, that life is fragile. As Jack Nicholson once said, “Life is short. Act accordingly“.
Rest in Peace Chester.