The Painful Truth About Art Cover

The Painful Truth About Art

On July 20th, 2017, Chester Bennington died by suicide. He was 41 years old. You may not know who Chester is, but you might recognize this picture:

It’s a bit old, here’s a more recent one with his friend Mike:

He was my friend too. Chester wasn’t the kind of friend you could call on a Thursday and grab a coffee with. No, he wasn’t like that.

But whenever you needed him, Chester would sing for you.

When I was 13, I was angry a lot. I was angry at my parents, angry at my friends, but mostly angry at myself for not knowing who I was.

I think that’s normal. I think all 13-year old boys are angry. When he sang, Chester was angry a lot too. You could hear it in his voice. And somehow, every time he was done singing, I didn’t feel so angry any more.

My friends from school were angry a lot too. Andy and Flo and Nils and Max. Whenever we’d saved some money, we’d go to the store and buy some of Chester’s CDs. I even remember the plastic bag I carried them around in.

If you still have CDs somewhere, maybe you have some of Chester’s CDs too.

A lot of people have the top left one. Chester’s band has sold more records than any other band in this century. They just released a new album and were supposed to go on world tour next week.

Today I realized that a lot of the greatest art we have the privilege to feel, breathe and live comes from a dark place.

Sometimes, the artist doesn’t make it back from that place. For more than half of my life, Chester went there so I and millions of other people wouldn’t have to.

Only this time, he didn’t find his way home.

I wish I could have just told him he didn’t have to go there any more. That it’s okay if he wanted to stay home a little longer. But that’s not how the world works.

Another great artist recently said you die twice:

“Once when they bury you in the grave and the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name.”

I hope that’s true.

I’ll tell my children about Chester. I’ll ask him to sing for them when they’re angry. Maybe they’ll tell their children too and he won’t really die for a long time.

But today my friend Chester stopped singing and that made me sad.