Thursday, July 20, 2017

My Strangely Sad Topical Dream

Hey friends,

I know it's weird (maybe) to roll with two Linkin Park posts in a row, but I'd say it's appropriate given today's news. It also seems strange to post this at night instead of early this morning when it was fresh, but here we are.

I had a dream last night that the guys in Linkin Park read my previous post about how I've enjoyed hearing their sound evolve over the years. They loved it and wanted to be on my podcast. So we did that interview and it was wonderful. They hooked me up with tickets to their show here in the [Philadelphia] area and invited me to meet them backstage. It was all tremendous. And the weird thing is, I could totally see them doing this in real life.

I've read a lot of great stories about Linkin Park's fan interactions, and they are almost all overwhelmingly positive. In particular, I've seen a lot of praise for how great a dude Chester Bennington was. And that makes it really hard for me to grasp that he died this morning.

I will always remember how excited I was after hearing the band for the first time. As soon as One Step Closer ended on the radio that day, I was hooked. I did the teenage thing of buying the album for one song, but I absolutely did not (and do not) regret it. The way Chester smoothly transitioned from singing to screaming and vice versa was incredible. The fact that he could do both and still crush it? Well, there's a reason Linkin Park is locked in my top 5.

He proved over the next 17+ years that his talent as a singer and songwriter was off the charts - pun intended, as always - with Linkin Park, Dead by Sunrise, and Stone Temple Pilots. As cliché as it sounds, he "brought it" on stage and in the studio. (I got to see LP at Live 8 in 2005 and they were amazing.) There were few current singers I enjoyed more, because I could hear his passion (and now I realize, his pain) in every project. He was just so damn good.

And that's why I waited to write this. Partly because I can't believe it, and partly because I wanted to find a way to express how awful mental illness can be. I don't think I've found it yet, but here I go anyway.

I am always shocked and saddened by suicide. Most of the time, the person "seems normal" even hours before the act. I'm saddened, obviously, to see anyone take that route. I'm also sad because it seems like the only time a dialogue gets started about depression and mental illness is after a tragedy.

Mental illness in general is baffling to me, because I can't wrap my head around how debilitating it really is. I can't fathom how someone who has so many people who love and support him, someone who gets to entertain millions of people living a childhood dream, can bring himself to put an end to it all so...definitively. (I guess my third reaction to suicide would be anger, but it's for sure overshadowed by the shock and sadness.)

I know it seems like I'm angry at Chester there, but I'm not. I can't be. I understand that he had serious issues. What I don't understand is why so many people who suffer from depression can't get the help they need, especially in America. It makes no sense and I wish I had a solution for it. I wish there were words I could say to make his family/friends/fans feel better. But I can't. And I hate it.

What I can say to try to tie this together though, is hug your loved ones. High five your buddies. Crank some Linkin Park or Dead by Sunrise or [recent] Stone Temple Pilots. And crap open a cold one for Chester.

EDIT: I was feeling perturbed at some comments being made about the band/their music, so I went on a Twitter...thing:

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