The Story: “I got into Christian music completely unintentionally. My family was Christian, I was Christian, but I was never really into praise and worship,” Amy shares. “I preferred modern music.”
It would be Pokemon that unexpectedly led Amy to music that would change her life. “Soon, I started watching AMVs, or anime music videos, with Pokemon and any song that sounded catchy. There was one that stood out from the others, genre and lyric wise: ‘Awake and Alive’ by Skillet.”
Two years later, that initial discovery would snowball into something much bigger. “I gradually started listening to some of their most popular songs, such as ‘Hero,’ ‘Monster’ and ‘Rebirthing,'” Amy says. “Another two years later, I was a full fledged panhead. Now (another two years), I’m still proud to call Skillet my all time, number one, absolute favorite band. Disciple, RED, TFK, The Afters and Manic Drive are also some of my favorites.”
“I find it way easier to connect to God through their songs than through most worship songs,” Amy explains. “At first, I thought this was wrong, but really, it’s still worship, just not the specific genre. About three years ago, I started my YouTube channel (AMyV), with the goal of bringing AMV watchers to Christian music, particularly Skillet.”
All afternoon on July 20, 2017, my phone was going off: “did you see the news?”
And I had; all of us in the rock community had, the news spreading through our tight knit family like a blackout, lights suddenly switched out. Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park and easily in the top 5 most influential voices in rock for the past two decades, had died by suicide. Just months after their latest record. Just months after all the interviews saying he’d been in a dark place but was in so much therapy, getting so much better.
It’s early to call it, but this might be the Kurt Cobain of my generation.
It matters because we’d identified with him for so long, processed our own emotions through his own words. I know it well; of a thousand memories, I remember being 17 and watching and re-watching the music video for “Numb,” because it was me. That was simple fact for millions: somehow, these songs were about us. And when we find ourselves echoed in someone else’s journey and then it ends in the dark– what does that say about our journey? What does that say about the possibility of hope?
And what do we do next, after and during the grieving?
First: we take from lives like Chester’s a legacy of the full sum, not the tragic mistake of a moment. His stories of rehab, of healing, of fighting to be more than an illness or addiction: those are still just as true as they were 24 hours ago. They are perhaps the truest things about his life. We will not remember the tragedies of others as their definition. We’ll be braver and paint the whole picture, light and dark.
And this does not have to be an indicator that the inevitable end is in shadow. It can instead be a reminder of how costly it is to continue to leave issues of depression, suicide, addiction, and mental health unaddressed for a single second longer. It can make us kinder to each other. It can make us fiercer in our fight against the killer that’s eating whole generations alive, leaving holes in families, in schools, in churches– on stages.
We can take to heart the reminder that fame and fortune aren’t any kind of antidote, and that sometimes the people who seem to have it best need help the most. And even if sometimes all the right methods of treatment can’t erase the choice of a moment– those methods are still worth pursuing, because if there’s a chance that they can keep one person alive for five more minutes, that’s a chance worth fighting for.
We should be sobered. We should never be without hope.
“They say that I don’t belong
Say that I should retreat
That I’m marching to the rhythm
Of a lonesome defeat
But the sound of your voice
Puts the pain in reverse
No surrender, no illusions
And for better or worse
When they turn down the lights
I hear my battle symphony
All the world in front of me
If my armor breaks
I’ll fuse it back together.
My battle symphony:
please just don’t give up on me.”
– Linkin Park
Let’s fight together, my friends. It’s what we do.
Chester Bennington’s wife Talinda Bennington has risen as an incredible voice of advocacy and life in the year since losing Chester. For more about her mental health initiatives or if you need help, please visit changedirection.org. You can also follow Talinda on Twitter to join the conversation.
You can also read Linkin Park’s reflections on one year without Chester on their Facebook here.
Happy National Tattoo Day! Tattoos can be a powerful way of telling our stories, of marking life events, of honoring the processes of our soul. For anyone who processes the world through the lens of music, the intersection of tattoos and songs just makes sense.
We asked you to share the stories of your lyrical tattoos. Here are your stories, your works of art.
The Song: “The Rose” by Memphis May Fire
Molly designed this piece with artist Spencer Minor, inspired by the Memphis May Fire lyric “we are the rose that grew from the crack in the concrete.”
The Song: “Times” by Tenth Avenue North
“A few months after my dad was killed in a traffic accident, I heard the song Times by Tenth Avenue North. My dad was a farmer that loved sunsets, and in the midst of the time of grief, and now in the time without my dad, God was and is still over under inside and in between.” – Dan
The Song: “Stars” by Skillet
“This is Inspired by the Skillet song Stars. I’m a huge long time fan, but I love the lyrics to this song and the story behind it…that God is there for you no matter what!” – Sharayah
The Song: “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot
“‘Dare You To Move’ by Switchfoot has played a huge role in the last several years of my life. Wanted to get this as a reminder of where I’ve been (and all I’ve still yet to do.)” – Sarah
The Song: “Unbroken” by Disciple
“[This is] Disciple’s Attack album cover with the artist’s flare put on it.” – Courtney
The Band: Random Hero
“It wasn’t so much song lyrics, but it was inspired by Aaron from Random Hero message that he gives to the crowd at shows. He always stresses how we can not avoid pain, but can chose to be miserable or do something to change it.” – Jennifer
The Song: “Feed the Machine” by RED
“My ‘Feed the Machine’ tattoo inspired by the Red song of the same name.” – John
The Song: “Invisible” by Disciple
“This song came into my life during a broken time. I had been dumped by a not so serious boyfriend at the time in a very lousy way. I felt like I was undeserving, a vapor. I was crying every night feeling completely worthless, like I could never be loved and was all alone… When that Disciple album came out, I had set it aside and didn’t listen until one night I was driving home from picking up some of my belongings from my ex’s house. That song came on, and I had never felt God’s presence so harshly until that moment… I felt like he had just wrapped me in his arms, telling me that I am deserving and I’m not alone or invisible. To this day I still cannot listen to that song without crying because it reminds me of a time where God physically comforted me when I needed it. The Bible verse is what the song was inspired by straight from the CD booklet.” – Breanne
The Song: “I Am A Stone” by Demon Hunter
“DH has been a huge and important part of my life since they began and these lyrics are a daily reminder to me that God in his unshakeable love and faithfulness to me and his unending pursuit of me is and always will be by my side…even in the darkest moments when we tend to forget that He is there and we are not alone.” – Amy
The Band: Day of Fire
“This is Day of Fire’s logo. Got this done a few years ago by the former lead singer, Josh Brown. It’s supposed to represent the Holy Spirit.” – Jeremy
Do you have a special story about how a song has impacted you? You can share the story by clicking here!
The Story: “I said for years I needed to stop drinking because it wasn’t good for me. Yet I never was able to,” Courtney shares. “Early 2015 God said it was time to put the bottle down. I told God I thought that was impossible. I told the creator of the universe something was impossible. Over and and over God told me I could do it and that it was time to put the bottle down. Over and over I ignored him.”
That’s where The Protest’s song came in. “I got The Protest’s Great Lengths album in mail. It felt like it came out of nowhere through friends. I stuck it in my car. I decided to drink before church because I thought I could endure it better. So I had a buzz at church on a Wednesday. I got in the car to leave and ‘Control’ came on.”
That experience became a turning point for Courtney in her process of defeating addiction, although it was still a process. “That song became God’s anthem to continue telling me to put the bottle down. I still didn’t listen. I put the album down for a while even because I couldn’t stand hearing God talking to me. July 2015, I finally decided to have faith that if God said I could quit drinking that it must mean I could. I dumped out what I had left of a bottle of Jack Daniels and gave it up.”
The Story: For Courtney, “Watch it Burn” became an anthem in the middle of extreme anxiety. “When I first started experiencing an allergic reaction to disposable gloves, it triggered immense anxiety and compulsions. I was terrified of dying. I worried about contamination and infection all day every day. I never felt clean. Yet I was working with urine samples in a lab that probably would glow like the sun in a black light. I was out of my mind with anxiety.”
“For some reason, Disciple’s song ‘Watch it Burn’ is the one that kept my sanity together,” Courtney shared. “It was just something about singing that line, ‘to all the hell inside that’s been controlling me, set it off, watch it all burn down,’ that got me through many bouts of panic.”