A Tribute to Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington was an extraordinary and talented musician, most prominently known for his role as lead vocalist for Linkin Park. He was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and he developed an interest in music at a very young age. His childhood was troubling: his parents got a divorce when he was eleven, he began abusing drugs, and he was picked on at school. He drew solace in writing songs and poetry and was able, with difficulty and after denouncing drugs, to pull through and achieve his true dream of becoming a professional musician.

As stated earlier, Chester Bennington was a member of the band Linkin Park, a popular rock band. He worked in tandem with Mike Shinoda to write the lyrics for the band’s debut album: Hybrid Theory, which was an enormous success. The band continued producing albums, some of the most popular of which are Minutes to Midnight, and Meteora, and have sold over 70 million albums worldwide. Chester also co-founded the band Dead by Sunrise and was recruited to Stone Temple Pilots when the former singer of the band, Scott Weiland, left.

My favorite song by Linkin Park and Chester Bennington is called “Castle of Glass”, from the album Living Things. It sounds very different from a lot of their other music, which is often composed generously of rap and other electronic elements. Although the song was given mixed reviews by critics, I absolutely love it. I admire the use of imagery and metaphors, especially with the title. Glass is fragile, but castles are supposed to be strong and fortifying. The line: “‘Cause I’m only a crack in this castle of glass” is repeated throughout the song, which I think is a very strong metaphor. To me, the castle (of glass) represents a person, and the crack represents hurt or an injury that the person has sustained. Though the injury or hurt may seem insignificant, a crack on a castle made of glass would greatly affect and even threaten the whole structure. If pushed upon even just a little, the crack would grow exponentially. The fact that he says “…I’m just a crack…” makes me feel as if he (or the person) feels insignificant, when in fact, he could be the cause of the entire structure’s demise.

Though I only discussed one song in detail, I do appreciate the band and Chester Bennington very much. The lyrics that Chester has written are unique, introspective, and compelling, and I think that he was definitely one of my favorite singers/songwriters. I love the music that he produced; the sound and feel to it was always very distinctive. He was a very strong, gifted, and inspirational person. Chester Bennington will be sorely missed by many. May he rest in peace.

-Elina T.

I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

imgladididit_cynthiaweilThe Big Apple.  Summer.  1963.  JJ Green. The Music Business.  Room for adventure.

JJ Green, a 16 year old girl, is one to speak her mind.  It has always been her dream to write songs, but there is a slight problem. There are three unbreakable rules in the Green family:

1. The Greens always eat breakfast together.
2. The Greens always negotiate instead of arguing.
3. The Greens always become lawyers.

As I read these first few pages, a song automatically popped into my head: “We are Family” by Sister Sledge.  The Greens were happy family, and especially in the 1960s, families stuck together. This song portrayed the scene of family life perfectly. But JJ shies away from these rules, for her wish is to become a songwriter.  Behind her parents’ back she applies for a job at the music business where her ‘disowned’ uncle works.  He calls it the place where songs are born.  Her parents call it the place where dreams are lost. On the contrary, Bobby, the producer, loves JJ’s talent and hires her as an intern for the summer.  When JJ finally shares her exciting news to her unenthusiastic parents, they are furious. Reluctantly, after tireless debates, they sign the paperwork, but they still are not approving of JJ’s decision. Her parents, then, make a deal: If JJ doesn’t get a song recorded by the time school starts in the fall, she will work as a lawyer. JJ doesn’t feel threatened by this arrangement at all.  At this point I thought of the song, “One Way or Another” by Blondie.  Somehow, somewhere, sometime she will get a record.

However, when the time comes to actually write the song, JJ’s fingers stop.  Her creative juices halt.  Her mind goes blank.  This may be a lot tougher than she set out for it to be.  Until she meets Dulcie Brown, her life flashes before her eyes, of thoughts of the deal with her parents. She cannot live the rest of her life as a lawyer; it just won’t do.  Dulcie, a negro jazz singer with an amazing voice, now a custodian at for the producer, can help her through this rough spot in her career. But things take a wild turn. Although a beautiful song is written, JJ’s heart is broken.

I would rate this book 5/5 stars for its originality and incredible authencity because it was written by an actual songwriter, Cynthia Weil.  I loved the historical fiction aspect as well as her unique style of creative writing.

-Maya S., 7th Grade

I’m Glad I Did is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.