Hybrid Theory, 2000
I’m old. I’m not sure if I’m older than most of you or younger, but I digress. That’s not important. The little things give you away.
Everyone has albums they listen to when they’re growing up – everyone has favorite bands and songs that get them through a tough time. While I don’t believe that music saves lives, I do think that certain people, ideas, and especially media can help you out of dark places. But ultimately, you’re the one who dragged yourself out of the dark. You were cold and lost in desperation, but not anymore.
There were a few bands and albums that have truly stood the test of time for me. Sure, bands like P.O.D. and Deftones (who will always be my favorite band) still stick with me, but it was Linkin Park that was (and still is) always there. It doesn’t matter that I’m older, wiser, and content in life. Teen angst is something everyone has to deal with, and it’s albums like Hybrid Theory and Meteora that truly define my life. I’ve gone through physical copies of Hybrid Theory, Meteora, and Minutes To Midnight at least a dozen times in total. That tends to happen when you’re switching between each CD multiple times a day. Not having an iPod caused this, so I’m extra thankful for one now.
Flash back to 2000. Post-grunge, rap, and pop dominated the airwaves. Sure, there were bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn making platinum albums – but they were few and far between.
Enter Hybrid Theory. It’s known as the highest selling debut album of the 21st century. The reason why it sold so much is because both myself and just about everyone was the album’s target demographic. Everyone knows the emotions of anger, fear, despair, paranoia, and lost love. Everyone feels these things – the mother down the street raising two kids by herself before the age of 21 – the middle school kid who’s picked on for being smarter than everyone ever – the football player on the night before the state championship – the girl cutting herself in the bathtub because she can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. You get the picture. This was the album for almost everyone, inside an easily digestible and quotable rap-rock hybrid.
It was certainly the album for me, as well. I was that insecure middle school kid who battled weight problems, bullying, and insecurity. The insecurity was the worst. I’d dive into music and video games as my only solace – and Linkin Park was that escape for me. I never really connected with a band until I shoved Hybrid Theory into my CD player for the first time.
“I am a little insecure, a little unconfident.”
Fast forward to 2003. Linkin Park had sold an absurd amount of copies of Hybrid Theory. It was a multi-platinum smash that sold thousands of copies weekly, years after its release. And why not? Albums that have a wide demographic always do well. How do you follow up a smash hit album? By releasing a similar one.
That’s Meteora. It had just as many standout songs (“Faint”, the risky “Breaking The Habit”, the relatable “Somewhere I Belong”) and was right on par with Hybrid Theory as far as quality and replayability. The best albums are the ones that stick with you through years of change and turmoil.
I’ll thank Meteora for breaking me out of my shell in 8th grade. I’d like to think this album helped give me the energy to expand my horizons daily – whether it was trying (and failing miserably) during art class, or taking a class that changed my life – broadcast journalism.
Doing the news every day was pretty awesome. I finally got to talk about what moved me – music, sports, and ideas. Without this class I’d not be doing any of the things I do now – or even posting on this website I run.
And of course, every day in between classes I’d listen to Meteora until I knew every word of it. I still do. It was, quite literally, a part of my life.
Minutes To Midnight, 2007
I’ll never profess to being the biggest fan of the alternative rock direction LP pursued on Minutes to Midnight. But I’ll not waste time telling you what I don’t like about it – not when it’s had a major impact on my formative years.
“Given Up” is a song I heard when I got the album the day of its release in 2007. The song (which is likely LP’s most aggressive) collected all my frustration with the opposite sex, fake friends, authority figures, and parental units, into a volatile cocktail of aggression. But other parts of this album hit home for me, too – “Shadow Of The Day” (which has a serious Joshua Tree-era U2 feel to me) signals the end of a season in our lives, and the beginning of a new one. Melancholy, but hopeful.
I personally won’t be forgetting the impressive and ambitious closer “The Little Things Give You Away”, either. A chilling observation of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, it’s Linkin Park’s longest song to date – and also features a guitar solo from Brad Delson, who notoriously despises playing them.
Seasons change, for sure. 2007 saw myself finishing my junior year of high school, gaining (however awkwardly) a girl’s attention for the first time, and the fact that I was somewhat content in life – enjoying it more than hating it. I guess this was growing up.
A Thousand Suns, 2010
College totally wasn’t for me. It’s a good thing I figured that out quickly, but I digress.
A lot can happen in 3 years. You might be finished with school, you might have found the love of your life (or lost it, or found it and lost it again) but one thing’s for sure. 1,095 days can completely turn your life around.
I don’t know what kind of ideas or concepts I was looking to gain in a small community college in the middle of nowhere. I hated the teachers, I despised the students who were more immature than my then 6-year old sister, and I loathed the way my peers acted like sheep just to follow a fucking trend because it was popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.
A concept album. It’s something that a band like LP would be loathe to try and pull off. Yet, A Thousand Suns is one of my most-listened to albums ever. Sure, there might be too many interludes and not enough actual songs, but when you have MINT songs like the dub-inspired “Wretches and Kings”, or the powerful lead single “The Catalyst”, you don’t need songs that could be filler.
I totally get why you might not like the album – but it’s still the soundtrack for my growing up today. It’s an album awash in synths and MLK speeches – and it’s certainly worth listening to front to back.
I am not alone. Lift me up, let me go.
Living Things, 2012
“Welcome to Hell”, the sign read. Or rather, it’s what my mind told me after another failed date, another failed job interview.
Even so, life wasn’t that bad. I finally had found my calling.
I’m no rockstar or famous person, despite what people often perceive me to be. I just have unique experiences. I can’t help it – music is my entire life. And it’ll always be this way. I’m alive, I’m a living thing making his way across time and space, trying to spread the word of something powerful to anyone that’ll listen to me.
We’re all living things. Maybe you’ll find your calling in a different way than me – maybe you’ll have an epiphany on top of the proverbial mountain, or maybe you’ll find yours at rock bottom when you think everything isn’t fine and never will be.
Don’t be lost in the echo. Love, discover, don’t forget to see the sights and don’t let life pass you by. Don’t be afraid to let go of a toxic relationship that holds you back.
“I don’t back up, I don’t back down.
I don’t fold up, and I don’t bow.
I don’t roll over, don’t know how.
I don’t care where the enemies are.”
I was conflicted at first about how much I liked “Living Things”. LP’s 5th album keeps the synthy backdrops up, but brings back Mike Shinoda being used more prominently than ever. “Lost In The Echo” surely ranks as the best track on the album. Overcoming adversity in the form of a poisonous relationship is a theme that everyone can relate to.
If you’re victimized, fight back. “Victimized” is a just under 2 minute song that shows LP going back to their aggressive habits, circa-Hybrid Theory. Hardcore punk Linkin Park? Count me in.
“They’re acting like they want a riot, it’s a riot I’ll give them.”
“And if you need a friend
There’s a seat here alongside me.”
They say you can either run from the past or learn from it. And I’d rather learn from it. It’s 2013 and life is good. I’m not fearful of the way I’ve lived, and I don’t apologize for it. I’ve done wrong, I’ve done right, and I’ve traveled the line in between. I survive – no, I thrive.
I’m sure this story will continue, one way or another. Linkin Park will release more music that will always stick with me and impact me in some way. They have the unique ability to reach me where I’m at.
“Weep not for roads untraveled
Weep not for sights unseen
May your love never end”
To be continued…