Linkin Park "Meteora": 20 Years Later
There are certain moments in your life when you start to realize that you are getting old.
Today, I learned that it has been twenty years since the release of “Meteora” by Linkin Park.
I officially realized, after learning of the milestone, that I am old.
Early on in my life, I never really had the guts to explore different types of music. I leaned on what my Mom and Dad liked, which meant a lot of classic rock and oldies music.
My tastes started to change once I hit high school. I started listening less to WCBS FM 101.1 and the oldies and began to explore different types of music. I listened to Z-100 and learned about pop tunes. I found Hot 97 and listened to hip-hop from Busta Rhymes, Puff Daddy, Nas, and countless others. I even got into 106.7 Lite FM and jammed out to love songs.
But by the beginning of my sophomore semester, I learned about Linkin Park, thanks to my friend in school, Olu.
I went over to Olu’s house one Fall day after school to hang out. Before going to his room to play Sega Dreamcast, we were chilling in his dining room, surfing the internet. He pulled up his Limewire torrent and checked on his songs he was downloading. Suddenly, he turned his head and asked me a simple question.
“Do you want to hear this song?”
After nodding and saying “sure”, he started playing this track, where it had a sound effect of water going down a drain. A few seconds later, tones began chiming in in sweet melody. And then, I heard a screaming vocal that had me hooked:
“CRAAAAAWLING IN MY SKINNNNNN, THESE WORDS THEY WILL NOT HEAL. FEARRRR IS HOW I FALLLLL, CONFUSING WHAT IS REALLLLL!!!”
Olu had introduced me to the Linkin Park song “Crawling”. I fell in love with the band on the spot.
For Christmas that year, I asked Papa Bruce for the “Hybrid Theory” LP , which I received post haste. Every single day, I blasted that CD over and over on my stereo system.
My parents couldn’t stand it when I blasted my songs at top volume. A lot of “Turn that crap down” was a frequently phrased line from the Bruce household. Thankfully, for my birthday a few months later, I received a CD Walkman.
I listened to Linkin Park everywhere. Walking home from school, running at the track, lying down before bed, in the library - anywhere I could, I did. Chester Bennington’s vocals, Mike Shinoda’s lyrics, Brad Delson and Rob Bourdon on guitar and drums, and Joe F’N Hahn on turntables just hooked my teenage angst in ways not other music really ever could.
Later in 2002, the band released “Reanimation”, which were remixed tracks from Hybrid Theory from various artists and produced by Shinoda. Rinse and repeat. I listened to that as much as humanly possible. I didn’t think this band would get any better after these two LPs. I mean, what could top “Papercut” and “In The End” as songs?
On March 25, 2003, I would find out.
By senior year, I was well on my way to graduating high school. I started to ponder what I would do with my life right before graduation. I was absolutely miserable. I felt so disenchanted with the world.
February 24, 2003 - I finally felt heard.
I was listening to 100.3 FM with my girlfriend at the time, when I heard the “New Music on Z100” jingle. Suddenly, there was a grainy techno style beat lead in, followed up with a hard guitar riff and then the words “When this began…”.
I was mystified. A new Linkin Park song was released.
“Somewhere I Belong” was, to me, a revolutionary track in music. It was a song that showed me that I wasn’t alone in wanting to fit in. It made me believe that I wasn’t alone with these thoughts. That song SPOKE to me.
I went home and instantly grabbed a cassette tape and sat next to my stereo, waiting on bated breath to record it off the radio. It took a few hours of nonstop listening, but once it played again, I got it. I then, at 11:30 at night, went to my dad’s 1998 GMC Safari and just vibed out to the song while driving around my hometown. I lost car privileges for a week, but it was worth it.
A month later, on March 25, 2003, “Meteora”, the official second album of Linkin Park, was released on CD. I was late to school, because I ran to the local Target to buy the CD. The wait for “Meteora” was that imperative. All day, I had my headphones on, jamming out to the entire LP over and over. Just like “Hybrid Theory”, it was a 24/7 listen.
Every song was a banger. EVERY SONG.
“Easier to Run” forced me to remember situations where I avoided the issue instead of facing it head on. “Breaking the Habit” was a topic touching upon addiction, which could be used metaphorically about a toxic situation that is tough to break away from. Even “Session” was a phenomenal instrumental mixed by the legendary Mr. Hahn.
“Meteora” was so popular that I remember when Azrieal initially used “Faint” as his theme song for Ring Of Honor in the summer of 2005, Being there live in Morristown for Death Before Dishonor III and hearing that track as an entrance was bad-ass. Plus, he was a bad-ass striker, which made me more of a fan of “the Good Guy”.
Over the next few years, I binged on “Meteora” almost every day and, unlike the song, I couldn’t break the habit. It was that powerful an album to me. Even as the years went on, when I needed a pick-me-up, that was my go-to. That CD was the gateway from being a high schooler to adulthood.
Then, in February of this year, I received an email that blew me away.
“New Song ‘Lost’ out now” was the headline.
I clicked on it, and it was from Linkin Park.
Were they releasing new music for the first time since the passing of Chester Bennington?
Technically, yes. But it was an unreleased track from 2003 - one that was left off of the final cut of “Meteora”.
According to Mike Shinoda during an interview with Chris Booker, the reason why “Lost” didn’t make the album was because “it was too similar to Numb in, like, energy. We already have one of them on a record, we don’t need two of them.” After listening to both back-to-back, I can see why. Lyrically and instrumentally, it is very similar.
BUT, on its own, “Lost” seemed destined to come out now. 20 years after the release of “Meteora”, this lost track (no pun intended) came out of the woodwork. Just hearing the voice of Chester in this track made me nostalgic and missing a lost voice of an unheralded era.
Please listen to it. You won’t regret it.
20 years ago, “Meteora” came onto the scene and spoke a generation. To this day, friends of mine still listen to this religiously. Jon Harder told me that his Operation Hockey Fight for Project: Diverge was written and developed while listening to that album on repeat for months on end.
When something speaks to you, listen. Linkin Park sang and rapped and I listened to their message. It helped me through the toughest of times and helped me out of multiple funks I was in. “Meteora” is my personal favorite Linkin Park LP. Nothing will ever touch it.
In fact, it’s time to break out my CD player. It’s time for another listen.