The year was 2001 and I was in a serious funk. Psychologists would call it a depression... and they would be right. My fiancé (now wife) had broken up with me and the only thing that I wanted to do was marry her. In her defense, she only broke it off, temporarily, to be certain that she was doing the right thing. To be honest, she was right to have her doubts about me...
This wasn't the only issue that was contributing to my funk, however. I was seventeen and ready to take the world by horns. Needless to say, this resulted in me butting heads with my parents quite a bit.
On top of all of these issues, this was the year of 9/11, which impacted all of us more than we can truly understand. I was physically and emotionally shaken for weeks following that infamous day...
I was also experiencing general teen angst and trying to figure out what to do with my life, like I could have any real clue at 17 years old... As a result of all these things piling up, I moved away from home for awhile. It was a strange and difficult year.
For me, it was also the year of nu-metal.
That means different things to different people... No more guitar solos. Rock bands with "rappers" as frontmen. Baggy jeans. For most, the sub-genre probably brings to mind a certain backwards-baseball-cap-wearing frontman who made it his personal mission to see how many times one can drop one particular curse word in a single song. Forty-eight was the number for these guys, although another band apparently broke the 400 mark... (Their songwriting sessions must be a breeze...)
This wasn't that...
For nearly every season in my life, there is a musical genre that is inextricably attached to it. This was the season of de-tuned guitars, dreadlocks, and turntables... and, love it or hate it, it literally saved my life.
October 2000 had brought the release of the Linkin Park album, "Hybrid Theory" and the single, "One Step Closer". They would follow up that first single with "Crawling", "Papercut", and "In the End", the following year.
These songs came from lead singer Chester Bennington's emotional struggle to deal with the drug abuse and fighting between his parents that resulted in their divorce. The issues that I was dealing with were very different, but the emotions felt the same. Chester and I were both very angry.. This album became very cathartic for me.
I also had a lot of respect for Linkin Park at the time for their commitment to not cursing on their albums. This wasn't for any religious or moral reasons, but because they believed the use of harsh language was an easy way out for songwriters and they were committed to creating more well-articulated art.
That's where it started. Then, while watching MTV at work in July 2001, everything changed.
I was sitting with an elderly man who had dementia and loved watching MTV all day (I'm pretty sure it had something to do with watching the girls dance). I was about to go crazy listening to N*SYNC and Britney Spears, when my boredom was interrupted by a city bus t-boning a Mercedes, followed by the opening riff of P.O.D.'s "Alive", then Sonny Sandoval singing, "Everyday is a new day! I'm thankful for every breath I take. I won't take it for granted, so I learn from my mistakes."
The album, "Satellite" (and the single by the same name) dropped on 9/11 and despite the craziness of that day, I went and picked it up as soon as I left work. It was the best twelve bucks I've ever spent. I remember listening to that entire album on a constant loop for weeks, if not months.
That's not the first time I had heard Payable on Death. In fact, I remember liking their previous album, "The Fundamental Elements of Southtown" pretty well, but after "Satellite", I was sold. I've bought everything the band has released since.
I'm not sure I would have survived that year were it not for P.O.D. (and, to a lesser degree, Linkin Park). I wasn't particularly spiritual, I was depressed, and I was leaning toward some pretty self-destructive tendencies.
Luckily, everything worked out. It's fifteen years later and I am happily married. I have a healthy relationship with my parents again. I'm no longer angry or depressed.
Music was the one thing that saved me from myself. From drug abuse and, quite possibly, suicide. I've had friends look into the abyss and not make it back from the edge. That's why I'm grateful that God put music in my life. All types of music. From bluegrass to hardcore. Music about God. Music about life. Music about pain. Music about the death grip of addiction. Music about love.
What I'm listening to at any given moment may not be your cup of tea, but it IS good or real or beautiful or sad or whatever I need it to be at the moment.
Linkin Park made me feel normal. They gave me something I could relate to. P.O.D. gave me hope and kept my finger off the trigger as I stared down the barrel of a really bad year.
You may hold wildly different opinions on the subject, but I know that I wouldn't be writing this today were it not for this much-maligned sub-genre of hard rock and the band that spoke to my soul through rock n roll: Payable on Death.
Stay tuned next time for: "How I Found the Meaning of Life in Post-Hardcore".
I'm joking... Kinda...
Who am I?
I'm a random guy.