RIP Chester Bennington: Remembering His Impact on a Generation

Linkin Park was a starting point for angsty kids lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling and wishing somebody, anybody, understood how they felt

If you were a teen or pre-teen in the early aughts, chances are you have sang along to a Linkin Park song. Maybe you owned a couple of albums; maybe your iTunes currently houses their entire discography, right up to One More Light, the album they released earlier this year. 

Whether you went on to be a pop-punk person, stuck with alt-rock bands, or fell hard into screamo, Linkin Park was a starting point for angsty kids lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling and wishing somebody, anybody, understood how they felt.

Because LP understood; Chester Bennington, the lead vocalist of the band, understood. Chester never kept his depression, addictions or suicidal thoughts a secret. He struggled openly, talking about the darkest times of his life in interviews and actively working to write his way out of those dark places.

As Adam Wylde eloquently explained during KiSS 92.5’s tribute yesterday evening, Chester had the incredible ability to take the pain he felt, and write it so that it seemed as if he was talking about the pain that we all felt.

TMZ was the first to report that Chester died by apparent suicide on July 20. Knowing that Chester struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for many years, perhaps we aren’t surprised by his passing, but we are still shocked, in the way the death of someone close to us will always catch us off guard. It’s the pain of losing a friend that you turned to when you needed someone the most, when you felt most alone. Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and also to every Linkin Park fan who, upon hearing the news, turned on the LP album that mattered the most to them.

For me, that album is Minutes to Midnight, which came out in 2007 as I entered the seventh grade and (of course) fell in love with my first-ever boyfriend. He was a pianist who could play “Leave Out All the Rest” on his keyboard. I have one vivid memory of sitting next to him on the piano bench and singing along as he played on the last day of school.

And yet, when we inevitably broke up—someone kissed someone else while I was at sleepover camp, and it was all very dramatic—the album didn’t feel tainted the way music sometimes does at the end of a relationship. Instead of us against the world, it was me against the world now: an angsty 12-year-old who could never love someone the same way again, listening to “Leave Out All the Rest” on her MP3 player in her room alone.

So when I heard that Chester had passed, that was the song I played, again and again. I listened to him sing: 

“When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some
Reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest”

In a Kerrang! interview, Chester once explained that the song is “supposed to feel like an apology letter, as though I’m moving on but I want people to remember the good things and not the bad things.”

In the last 24 hours, Twitter and Facebook have filled to the brim with eulogies and memories. I read message after message, that together paint a complete picture of the resounding impact Chester had on us as a generation. Every angsty millennial I know has some variation of an “LP got me through this break up / this struggle / this time in my life” story, and took to social media to share it.

RIP Chester Bennington: we’ll keep you in our memories, and leave out all the rest.

If you or someone you love needs help, contact the Canadian Association For Suicide Prevention.

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