It was probably somewhere in mid 2004 when I first heard of this rock band called Linkin Park. In the sleepy little town of Nagercoil, where Rangoli and Oliyum Oliyum in Doordarshan took precedence, MTV, VTV and SS music did not exist for us let alone rock bands. Even the few who knew were keeping up with the Western music were stuck on Backstreet boys and Boyzone. I was too.
A friend of mine in Class 11, who was a transfer student from Dubai, was an avid fan of Linkin Park. She spoke a lot about lot of things and Linkin Park was one of them. The name piqued my interest. Back in early 2000s, when internet was yet to reach tier III towns, it was not as easy to just listen to songs like now. You either know a super cool dude who has the song CDs or wait for the songs to play on television. I had to wait for the latter. The first song I heard was ‘In the End’. They were soon followed by his other hits like ‘Somewhere I Belong’ and ‘Numb’. For a long time those were the only lyrics I would utter much to my sister’s annoyance who never understood why would someone want to listen to someone who shouts rather than sing.
For many that is how it sounds. A man full of tattoos with a piercing on his tongue shouting at the top of his voice accompanied by loud music, rapping and videos that did not make sense. But that ‘loud’ music ripped my heart even the first time I heard. There was something about the lead singer’s voice that tugged my heart; made me lose myself in his songs. My high schools days were filled with trying to decipher Linkin Park lyrics and memorising the songs.
I was enthralled with the lead singer, Chester Bennington, voice, whose name I did not know till I reached my college first year when my roommate told me. She said she fell in love with his voice and the ring on his tongue. I had to agree.
As young as I was then I never realised why would I be so fascinated with this band when I actually hate metal. I grew out of Linkin Park eventually though and did not keep tabs on the singer until I learnt that Bennington was dead. It was suspected to be a suicide.
Somehow it makes me sad. It made me want to look back and understand what was about his songs that I was obsessed about. So obsessed that I would repeatedly listen to songs in a bid to memorise it despite repeated failures. May be because his songs gave voice to inner voices and angst one experiences growing up. Shouting, high-pitch notes, complements it. The sad tones his songs assume that resonated with younger audience probably came from his early years when he was harassed sexually and abused drugs and alcohol.
For someone who could literally create magic through his voice is dead. Bennington, whose voice held millions like me captive, is dead. Sure he may not have been a major part of my childhood but it was memorable for the songs resonated with me and soothed me.
RIP Bennington. Linkin Park is never the same without you in it.