This song gets me every time.
Linkin Park is a band that will always be something significant to me. I think it’s because their growth as a band so perfectly mimics with my own maturation and developmental trajectory, both chronologically-wise and content-wise. They’re not my favorite band, and very few of their songs are actually on my “repeat” playlist, but there is something there that will always resonate with me.
I first jumped on the Linkin Park bandwagon in 2001. I was still in elementary school at the time, when Linkin Park released their first mainstream success – Hybrid Theory. Needless to say, Hybrid Theory was a gigantic, concentrated, repository of adolescent anger and “fuck you, fuck me, fuck the world!” sort of mentality. The subject matter was dark, the lyrics depressing, and the premise rather juvenile. It was the musical equivalent of an angry 11-year-old’s diary, lashing out against the dismal cards that life had dealt him. The album dealt with everything from drug addictions to societal alienation, child abuse to self-injury, interpersonal drama to straight-out violence.
Linkin Park has changed a lot since then. But then again, so have I. I moved from a period of identifying with their music, to a place of simple respect. Because while I don’t consider myself a moshing, die-hard fan, I respect their artistic merit. The tone of their songs has changed significantly since 2001 – matured, really. What they are now is a band looking back at the short-sighted days of Hybrid Theory from a place of increased self-awareness and wisdom. They’ve made the successful transition from being a victim in life to that of architect – no longer content to be merely a victim of adversity.
Linkin Park doesn’t scream much these days, in stark contrast to their first few years of commercial success. Their fanbase has also diversified significantly because of this. The name “Linkin Park” used to conjure up images of truant, suburban 17-year-old boys strung out on coke and tagging derelict buildings on Saturday nights. Their concerts used to be little more than thinly disguised opportunities to pick fights, drink alcohol in public, and inhale second-hand smoke from the hundreds of pot-licking young men moshing furiously in the crowd.
It’s apparent however, when examining Linkin Park today, that while their artistic vision has matured, their fans have matured with them. Because those 17-year-olds are hitting their 30s today, many of them in stable careers and starting families.
Linkin Park today, in 2011, has a specific flavour to their music that draws me. It’s not quite adversity anymore. They don’t sound like angry, desperate youth who are suffering – lost amid a 21st century globalized society that seems to be the personification of dispassion. Not at all. The Linkin Park of today sounds like men who have lived through a decade of hardship in their younger years, and now look back with a more self-aware, forgiving eye. Their newer songs reek of something their old songs did not: Hope. That’s it, I think. The Linkin Park today sounds like hope.
It’s a change that has also occurred in my own maturation process. Growth is not about forgiving or forgetting. Growth is about acquiring a paradigm shift – moving away from a place of anger to a place of silence. A place of grace. A place of resignment, and a place of forward motion.
The Linkin Park today is comprised of six men with far quieter minds than they used to have, and that is why no matter how far apart their artistic vision and my own musical preferences may grow, I will always have a copy Hybrid Theory on my CD shelf.