Since day one, rock and roll has always been about having fun to some extent. Even when the hardest bands of the genre like metal hit the scene, the point was to have something to bang your head on and forget about all the problems that are going on in your life. It’s about joy and release…and once in a while it can hit you right in the center of your chest.
Rock may have gained a reputation for having disposable lyrics back in the day, but these are the kind of songs that have some pretty complex stories to tell. Compared to the usual topics of sex and drugs, these are the tracks where the artists left a piece of their soul on the page and made their audience cry uncontrollably after hearing it for the first time. Then again, not every song has to make you cry just because of the lyrics. You have to keep the whole picture in mind, and the instrumentation and vocals go a long way with these songs as well.
The real kick here is the context in which we hear these songs. Any band can just throw a nice melody together and make people sing along. When you actually see the person behind the instruments, that’s when they start hitting a little closer to the bone.
Linkin Park has always had a tortured side to its lyrics from day one. Aside from some of the teenage stuff that popped up on Hybrid Theory that we can cringe at today, you can tell Chester Bennington really put his heart and soul into every word he sang on these discs. It’s a whole different matter when that kind of pain becomes real.
Although One More Light was released a few months before Chester’s tragic suicide, the whole song feels recontextualized knowing what was to come in the next few months. While the song was originally intended as a sort of tribute to one of the band’s close friends on their label who had passed away, hearing Chester sing lines about backing up when someone’s down is absolutely haunting to think about these days.
Certainly, there have always been these kinds of words scattered throughout the other records, like the solemn farewell on Leave Out All the Rest or the surrender to emptiness on something like Waiting For the End. However, it was meant to be a message of hope, and after Chester’s passing, it feels like he’s speaking to us from beyond the grave. Chester has always been a sensitive soul in the world of hard rock, but if he had only listened to the advice he sang in this song, we could talk about the new music he would be releasing today.