Seems like when there’s one passing, two more happen. The rule of three or the triangle effect—however you want to look at it. I’m not a fan of dying and death. I’d rather keep enjoying the music, movies, and books!! But I’m right there with the rest of the fans who buy the music, movies, books, etc. when someone passes away. Unfortunately, death happens. There isn’t a cure for death. Not yet. It just happens.
I was talking with someone older than me the other day. The person said they didn’t understand why Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell were considered icons and legends. To this person, people like Bob Dylan or Barbara Streisand are legends and icons. Are they? Sure they’ve done some awesome stuff. But should Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell be on the same list? I think they should.
This is my opinion and I stand by it. I’m guessing you have your own and I expect you to. Opinions are good.
Dylan and Streisand are legendary people. They’ve made strides in music and film. The songs are memorable. I can’t name a Streisand song, but she’s also not my cuppa. Dylan…yeah, I can name a few of his tunes, but his vocal style isn’t for everyone. That’s okay.
Then why are they counted above Bennington and Cornell?
Metal and rock music had their starts much later than many other popular genres of music. Some cite Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin as innovators in the rock and metal genres. Those weren’t big bands until the late 60s and early 70s. Pop started back in the 50s, so they’re going to have people with more longevity in those genres. But metal and rock are having their day. Sadly, they’re also starting to feel the sting of death.
If you are like me and grew up in the 90s and 00s, then bands like Cornell’s Soundgarden and Bennington’s Linkin Park were mainstays. A lot of my college and high school days were filled with hours listening to their CDs. Numb from the Meteora album holds a special place in my heart. It got me through a lot of heavy stuff. I wasn’t particularly in to Soundgarden, but you can’t miss the grungy, heavy sound of Black Hole Sun.
So why call these people legends? Because they’re dead? One person claimed the way they passed should keep them from the status of legend or icon. If that’s the case, then Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, Brian Jones, plus Keith Moon should be kept off the list. The thing is, drugs, drink, depression…it hits us all in one way or another. Members of Alice in Chains, Drowning Pool and many others are gone too soon because of decisions made that maybe weren’t the best. Just because these people took one pill too many or decided to take their life doesn’t mean they weren’t great.
These guys were depressed. They had fame, fortune, and fans, but when you’re popular, it can be lonely. You can be in the middle of a crowded room and feel like you’re the only one there and it’s not good. It can be sad and yeah, depressing. There is pressure. What if the next record doesn’t score with the fans? What if it doesn’t sell? What if it’s deemed unworthy? What if it’s ‘not good enough’?
To some, the pressures of fame are self-inflicted. If you don’t want the stress, then don’t be famous. It’s not that simple. You generally want some fame and cash so you can keep living. But then, if you’re lucky, it gets bigger and harder to control. There is no such thing as kinda famous. There’s famous in a small town, but not kinda—that’s verging into the one-hit wonder status and that’s its own ball of pressure.
Look at Kurt Cobain. The guy wanted to play music and eat. Okay, he wanted to do drugs to numb the pain from his childhood and a stomach condition, too. Then people saw his skills with songs and lyrics…it blew up out of his control. Some didn’t understand the lyrics to the songs and others misrepresented what he meant. He felt like a sellout. For all we know, Bennington and Cornell felt the same way. I’m not saying I know they did or didn’t. I’m just saying you don’t know how these people were feeling, so it’s hard to condemn them.
It’s tough being an artist. You want to please yourself, plus make the art your soul expects you to create. It’s tiring. It’s hard. You don’t just sit down and create a masterpiece in music, art or literature. It takes time. There are many moments of self-doubt. Moments where you want to destroy what you’ve created in favor of starting over. It’s hard to know if the public will like your work and if they don’t, then that’s torture. You’ve worked so long and hard on the art only to have it rejected. You can get lost in the world of creation, trying to make your art perfect. It’s tough.
For me, the 90s and 00s will forever be the decades of NuMetal, experimentation in music and the resurgence of the massive concert experience – think Lollapalooza, Lilithfest and the Warped Tour. This music wasn’t made or listened to in a vacuum. A whole generation of people grew up on the tunes from these bands in these concerts and genres. Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington’s music represents times in our lives. To discredit these folks or to say one is more important than the other is foolish. What’s an icon to you might not be to me, but that doesn’t mean the contributions to art, whichever it is, wasn’t big.
Streisand is a great singer, but her belting out People didn’t make an impact in my life in the massive way Linkin Park’s Meteora album and Hybrid Theory did. “I know I may end up failing, too, but I know you were just like me with someone disappointed in you.” That’s a heavy lyric.
The music stands up. Soundsgarden and Linkin Park sound as fresh today as they did when the albums dropped.
We all have our legends and icons. #Legends and #rockstars never die because their #music always lives on. That’s what makes these guys #legends and #icons to me.