How Linkin Park Saved My Life - Cebu X-Geeks

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How Linkin Park Saved My Life



I still remember that fateful day 18 years ago. Holiday season, I was alone in a cinema downtown watching a not so particularly good movie; Dracula 2000. The dialogue was a bit silly and watching Gerard Butler do his take on the vampire was a bit cringe-worthy/cringey. As the movie ended and I started to stand, the first four notes a heavily distorted and drop-tuned guitar started to play over the credits. I sat back down and listened to the song as the malcontent lyrics of the raging vocalist blared out of the speakers like a flurry of lightsaber strikes. There was no post-credits scene, I stayed through the credits just to listen to a song that spoke to me.

That night, I visited a a friends house (where my girlfriend then also lived), my friend also was living with her 3 siblings which one of her sisters was a pretty hardcore alternative rock fan. On their pretty grimy and banged up coffee table which has seen better days, was a cassette tape which had this drab color scheme of grey and maroon with a soldier holding a flag. I thought the artists idea of juxtaposition in giving a military person fairy-like wings was amusing and clever, the graffiti like artwork spoke to me as I am a full-blooded city boy raised downtown. The bands name was pretty funny too, but that was the common the rock bands of that era to choose pretty nonsensical names: Korn, Limp Bizkit, Powerman 5000, Seven Dust, Slipknot, Mushroomhead, etc.

My friends sister asked if I wanted to listen to the tape, I said yes of course and she proceeded to take the tape out of this case and shoved it into an ancient looking cassette player that was obviously seen a lot of use. The first song in Side A called "Papercut" started with a rap verse, having heard of Limp Bizkit earlier that year, I thought this is probably just another band with a similar sound of merging rock and rap (which collectivly became known as Nu-Metal a couple years later) but then the came the chorus. I realized this band had a vocalists on the opposite ends of the style spectrum and my thoughts went back to juxtaposed themes on the album cover of having a military man represent themes of rebellion in an art style mostly associated with street art.

The the second song played. I realized it was the same song I heard from the credits of the movie I heard earlier. I automatically asked my friend's sister if I could borrow the cassette tape so I can listen to the whole album at home.

That was how a 16 year old me was introduced to Linkin Park's One Step Closer.

The music video for "One Step Closer" was a big staple for a local music video channel too.
It was an emotionally tough time for teenage me; my mother just died earlier that year after suffering through 5 years of having half her body comatose from a stroke, I dropped out of school due social insecurities, broke up with my high-school sweetheart, moved out of the house of childhood, my father and I did not have a good relationship and he basically forced me to alienate both relatives on both his side and my mothers side of the family, and was not sure of my place in this world. I rarely slept at home, or slept at all and spent my days hanging out in the seedy parts of downtown Cebu, sleeping at the cement sidewalks not because I did not have a bed to go house to go to, but because my house didn't feel like home.

Listening to Linkin Park helped me through all that. Their songs showed me how it was okay to be angry, to let the range out, to let the world know I was not happy instead of bottling it up inside and slowly eating me from within. That all the pain and suffering I felt was a part of life that I should accept and power through instead taking the easy way out: suicide.

I was a clingy juvenile delinquent looking for love and attention at the wrong places. Falling for the wrong people, hanging out with "friends" who obviously were just tolerating my presence, not that I blame them, and looking for a place to belong. It was hard, real hard due to my anger issues. I had the tendency to piss off people or worse, stab them in the gut or punch out their teeth.

The entire "Hybrid Theory" album helped me the made tough times bearable, each song spoke to me, or more accurately, I feel the lyrics were the words I have been wanting, needing, to say. A gentle friend who is always there nurse my emotional wounds and an escape from the real worlds apathy.

Papercut as an anthem of how I am afraid of what I am becoming, a conversation with myself. 

One Step Closer personified the rage I feel from how how unfair my life was.

Due to my mothers recent passing, With You cut deep and helped me cope.

Points of Authority narrates my emotions from a recent relationship. 

Crawling basically became my very personal theme song for the next couple years.

Runaway embodies my thoughts of just letting go of everything and starting over somewhere else.

My inner monologues accurately expressed through By Myself.

I made my peace with helplessness and inevitability with In The End.

Having been in all sorts of toxic relationships, A Place For My Head was a comforting escape.

The dark wordplay in Forgotten appealed to my raw intrinsic love for all things moody.

Pushing Me Away made me realize how in retrospect, see the flaws I had in my previous 
relationships between me and lovers, friends, and family.

The Holiday Season was always a tough time for me, having nowhere to go and no one to spend with, The somber notes and lyrics of My December was a soothing caress through those cold nights.

I love the technical complexity of tones they have built from relatively simple riffs and melodies. The sophomore album Meteora was both more of the same but better. Through the years, I have always appreciated how Linkin Park did not stick to their original sound and themes and instead evolved and risked to try new things. The band grew up, and so did I. for the last 18 years their music have been an integral part of life, helping me through the emotional obstacles that came my way, being the voice speaking the words I cannot say, the assuaging wall of sound I drown myself in through times loneliness and melancholy.

I can honestly say I wouldn't be alive right now if it was not for that fateful day I got introduced to Linkin Park. I had massive suicidal tendencies back then but found solace as a teenager when I picked up that first album and listed to it over and over alone in the dark. I wouldn't be where I am right now if I did now pick up that cassette and listened to it days on end. For that, I am eternally grateful.

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