By Adam Deane
Fifteen years ago today, at a sub-sandwich shop in rural Hickville, ON stood a very confused young man slapping extra slices of cheddar on someone’s meatball sub. Although all may have seemed kosher on the outside – black visor, thick smile, tucked in polo and an attitude that would make customers wonder if this fine young boy sh*t rainbows.
The truth? All was not okay. All was not kosher. In fact, it was the opposite of kosher – whatever that is. I don’t eat pickles, so I’m not sure. You see, this young man had developed an exceptional skill over the infancy of his teenage years. That skill? Building walls. Uncertain exactly where this skill came from, it’s assumed to be a by-product of the pain he’d been swallowing, the anger he’d been eating and the feelings he could never find the words to express. A theme that is all-to-familiar for most, and more common than it should be.
He’d walk to and from school everyday with a portable CD player and the biggest headphones he could find, so as to avoid any possible social contact or conversational situations. Why? Because what do you say to someone when all you’re feeling is angst, anger, sadness, turmoil. Music was his go-to. It was the only form of expression he’d unearthed, which allowed an outlet for feelings to escape without talking about them, without punching anyone, and without hurting himself.
Fifteen years ago today, a band named Linkin Park crept its way into this young man’s ears with what was then their only album, Hybrid Theory. Lead vocalist Chester Bennington was the epitome of what every teenager was feeling. At the time, a 25-year-old heavily tattooed man with a healthy and heavily gelled forest of bleach-blond spikes, screaming into the void “There’s something inside me that pulls beneath the surface, consuming, confusing. This lack of self control I fear is never-ending, controlling, I can’t seem to find myself again, my walls are closing in.”
And boom. Every single hair stood on end, every single teenage-cell stood in solidarity with this man’s words. He won over a generation, and helped thousands of teens find a voice for their emotion.
Linkin Park’s music was passionate, erratic, unpredictable and haunting. They weren’t just carving a new path with the sounds they created, they were bushwhacking the shit out of a dense forest of old noise. With many hits to follow, it seems they’re job wasn’t quite done helping new generations find their voice. They released seven albums in total with Bennington as their frontman, the most recent, One More Light, released just a few months ago. And now today will be remembered as the day an iconic voice of our generation joined a new world and left ours.
I know I speak for many when I say that you will be missed dearly, Chester. From the bottom of my angry, little fifteen-year-old heart, thank you. Give Chris a hug for us.
If you or anyone you know is struggling. There is help. Please visit www.suicideprevention.ca for resources in your area.